Life in a pandemic has taught us how very little control we have. For me, and perhaps many of you, feeling out of control can be very frustrating and induce a lot of stress. I have long heard that control is an illusion and truthfully the only thing we have control over is our reactions. I feel sometimes I don’t even have much control over my reactions. Being self aware and noticing how you are reacting and exploring where those reactions are coming from can be very helpful; but also very difficult to do in the heat of the moment.

The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem.”

Captain Jack Sparrow

I catch myself getting all wrapped up into what seems like the problem. I get stuck spiraling into unhelpful thoughts about what I think the problem is. But when I breathe, and take a minute to look at why I am feeling the way I am feeling, often there is a different cause. I am not saying that there are not problems. There are, everywhere. So unless we understand what triggers us to respond to these issues in the way that we do, we will be forever whipped around, a prisoner to our emotional response. Emotions can be very helpful in motivating us, but they also can be detrimental when we find ourself in a situation where the outcome we desire is not achievable.

There are things that I know trigger an emotional response in me. I like to be in control, so when I feel out of control, this can cause a lot of stress for me. When COVID first started I had a job where I experienced change on a weekly basis, sometime more often. Those changes were predictable changes. Once the Pandemic started, I was experiencing unpredictable changes. It cause me a lot more stress. I am flexible person. I enjoy change. Being fluid and in the moment, is how I do my best work. So I was surprised in how the unpredictability of life really got to me.

Awareness is the first step. When we examine the thoughts we have around the “problem” we can better understand why we are shaken when presented with the problem. Having this understanding gets us closer to being at peace; despite the situation we find ourselves within. Once we can see what is bring up our emotions and that it is really more about us than the perceived problem; we can start to work on this aspect of us.

It is important to have some strategies to get past these emotions or as Captain Jack Sparrow says, “…[our] attitude about the problem”.

  • Breathe – take a deep breath, center yourself, and just feel the emotion.
  • Acknowledge – emotions are not good or bad, they just are. Acknowledge what you are feeling. Give yourself permission to feel it.
  • Be Present – be present in the moment. Notice what is around you. What do you hear, see, smell, feel, taste? Notice that in this moment you are safe and everything is okay.
  • Understand – attempt to understand what is causing you to feel so …whatever you are feeling. If you can name what is behind the emotion it can be helpful in gaining understanding. For example: I feel frustrated at a lack of control because I have a fear of failure.
  • Calming ritual – create yourself with a calming ritual. What this is may differ on where you are and this will be very individualized to each person. Some ideas are:
    • cup of herb tea
    • lighting a candle
    • carry a “worry stone” that you can hold or rub your thumb against
    • take a series of slow, deep breaths
    • recite a poem, prayer, or mantra (out loud or internally)
    • have a mint or piece of gum
    • take a walk outside
    • rub some lotion on your hands
  • Carry on mindfully – once you have gained awareness you can carry on with your day. You will have a better understanding of why you were so upset and have taken some action to become present and understand you cannot change the problem – only your reaction.
  • Take action if it still seems necessary – once you have done all of this, depending on what the perceived problem was, there still may need to be action taken on your part. Now that your mind is clearer and you are not as caught up in the emotional response, you can attempt to make a plan.
  • Repeat as necessary – depending on what is going on you may find yourself needing to use these strategies over and over again. It will get easier as you practice.

I love the Serenity Prayer.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, 

courage to change the things I can, 

and wisdom to know the difference.

I think there is a lot of wisdom in this prayer. There are things we cannot change. Things we have no control over whatsoever. Then there are things we can change. Often that is us and how we deal with what we cannot change. Working on ourselves is some of the hardest work, but also the most beneficial work we can ever do. Knowing what things we can affect and what things we cannot affect will give us much more peace, rather than banging our heads against the wall trying to change the unchangeable.

I also believe in the benefit of planting seeds, but that is for another blog. Thank you for reading my blog today. May you find peace within the storm. May you find the calm pool of serenity within yourself.


Letting Go and Trusting

Do you feel stressed when things don’t go according to plan? I think this feeling is common for many of us. In the movie “The Dark Night”, The Joker says, “Nobody panics when things go ‘according to plan’. Even if the plan is horrifying!”  I often find myself wanting to force things to work out the way I think they should. Recently, many wise friends have been posting things about letting go, trusting, and allowing things to unravel in the way they are meant to. This Divine intervention, fate, manifestation, or whatever you want to call it; is something we need to learn to allow. I have, for a long time, loved the Serenity prayer.

God grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change,

courage to change the things we can,

and wisdom to know the difference.

This prayer has been used in Alcoholic Anonymous since 1942. Prior to that, it was common to find it in obituaries. It is a beautiful sentiment and wise advise for us all.

One of my favorite manifestation teachers is Mike Dooley. Mike says, “don’t micromanage the Universe”. He teaches that it is our job to decided what we want, but not how we will get it. We have to trust the Universe to find the best way to bring our dreams to life. There have been so many times in my life when I felt like I ‘knew’ how things had to workout. Then everything swirled around and still worked out (usually better than I could have imagined), but not in the way I had originally envisioned.

By letting go of ‘trying to’ control everything and dropping ourselves fully into that loving, supportive energy that holds us, guides us, and urges us forward; we step into the flow of our life. As Lao Tzu says, “When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be”.  Another popular way to say this is; “Let go and let God”. No matter what your spirituality is, trusting that you are safe and everything will work out exactly the way it is supposed to, is a freeing way to live. To truly allow the heartbeat of life to carry you, is the best way to experience the magic that is here for us. It is also a great way to let go of stress and anxiety. When we are not trying to force things to turn out in a certain way, we are free to live our life.

I encourage you to start to notice what you are trying to control. Release it and know that you are safe to do so. The only thing you can really control is yourself and how you react to everything else. Face the future knowing you are moving in the direction of your dreams and your life is meant to be glorious. I dare you!

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you. May you find it easy to trust in the flow of life, as if by magic.

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