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  • Writer's pictureLeanne Goff

Stay focused on what you can control


Self-control is strength. Calmness is mastery. You have to get to a point where your mood doesn’t shift based on the insignificant actions of someone else. Don’t allow others to control the direction of your life. Don’t allow your emotions to overpower your intelligence” – Morgan Freeman.


Something has become really obvious to me lately – that far too often people let the opinions and comments of others affect them, way too much, to the point of making themselves annoyed, angry, frustrated or even unhappy. Which makes me question – how much is too much and why can’t we just focus on ourselves and worry only about the things that are in our control because all too often it is the things that are out of our control that bring us the greatest unease. It has become clear to me that to be truly happy in oneself you must practice the art of “controlling the controllable and letting go of the rest”. A lot of us get stuck because we focus on things that are outside of our control i.e. what other people say and do, how others perceive me, what happens in the future, what happened in the past, inevitable painful losses in life or the inevitability of ageing, illness and injury. The more we do this, the more disempowered we are and the more frustrated or disappointed or angry or anxious we feel. In contrast, the more we focus on what’s in our control, the more empowered we become. Things that we can control include; how I respond to my emotions & feelings, thoughts, sensations and memories, how much action I take towards my goals, how much I focus on & engage in what I do, what I say and do to influence other people, the values I live by, whether or not life gives me what I want and how I take care of and look after myself.


If you take a step back and look at all the things we worry about and are told to worry about, you'll realize how much extra weight and stress we are unnecessarily carrying around. It's not the actual events that happen to us that cause our suffering but rather, our resistance and deep desire to change events that we have zero control over that does. The main aim must be to shift your attention from thoughts that are causing you worry and stress to the things you actually do have control over. Learning to control what is in our control and letting the rest go is the key to a healthier and happier life. We cause ourselves so much pain and resistance by trying to control other people's actions, thoughts or behaviours when in fact, we must be rid of this myth.


Whenever you find yourself moving from a positive outlook to a negative one, try tuning in to;

  1. What is worrying me?

  2. What is within my control?

  3. What matters most to me and what can I do about it?

When we focus on what we can control, our thoughts empower us and then trigger positive emotions.


Roman and Stoic philosopher Epictetus acknowledged this when he wrote:


“Happiness and freedom begin with a clear understanding of one principle: Some things are within our control, and some things are not. The chief task in life is simply this: to identify and separate matters so that I can say clearly to myself which are externals not under my control, and which have to do with the choices I actually control.


So, we must Stay Focused on What You Can Control!


Within our control are our own opinions, attitudes, aspirations, dreams, desires, and goals. We control how we spend our time, what books we consume, how productive we are, what we eat, the number of hours we choose to sleep, and who we choose to spend time with.

Outside our control sits everything else: the family and body you were born into, how life’s events unfolded, the weather, the economy and other people.


Trying to control or change what isn’t within your control will only drain your energy and leave you in torment. What you can control is how you perceive a situation, how you react to it and how you respond.


“When you can’t control what’s happening, challenge yourself to control the way you are responding to what’s happening. That’s where the power is”.


The point is; trying to control others actions only causes you frustration, your job is to inspire and let them make their own decisions. Then, once they have made the decision you must let it be.


“You can't control, you can only inspire”


Be the person you want to have in your life,

Be the partner you want to have next to you,

Be the mum you always needed,

Be the daughter you want to raise,

Be the friend you need when times are tough.

-Sinead Hegarty

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