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How to be Centered When Everything is Out of Control

“You only have control over three things in your life—the thoughts you think, the images you visualize, and the actions you take.”

~Jack Canfield

On many days, we have the feeling of being out of control. No matter how much we would like to be in control of every aspect of our life, the bottom line is that we have no control. And this is the hurdle we must surmount. What do we do about that feeling of not having any control? It’s not pleasant, and in fact, it’s a major source of anxiety and stress. It leads to professionally diagnosed disorders, restricts us with inaction, and makes life unlivable.

So, we come back to the question, how can we be centered when everything is out of control? How do we keep the chaos and mess around us, from usurping our peace? The solution is unique to the person and there are a variety of practical ways to remain centered when lacking control. Where the situation appears complex, the solution may be simple.

The immediate answer is to ensure your mental health. When your mental health is in jeopardy, so is everything else. It is imperative to protect your mental well-being, to maintain a sound mind, and fortify your mind against negativity, stagnation, and unproductivity.

Photo by Anh Q. Tran

Acknowledge your feelings. Recognizing the lack of control, like a lot of problems, is the first step. You can’t do anything until you identify the problem—And the problem is the feeling and being out of control. It’s the awareness that you have no power over the situation and it’s okay. I repeat—it is okay. It’s perfectly normal to get mad, get frustrated, or even depressed by not having control. The key is not letting that feeling consume you. If it does, you become immobilized and effectively unable to change your situation.

Photo by Nada Gamal

Accept the feeling of being out of control. One of the main reasons the lack of control is overwhelming and in some instances to the point of obsession is that we do not accept the fact that we are out of control. No matter your position, what authority you may have, what security you are given and hold on to, the only thing you can control is yourself.

Photo by Trent Szmolnik

Empty your mind. The mind becomes a dangerous place when negative and oppressive thoughts overwhelm the psyche. Gather them all together and release them. These thoughts will paralyze you and it’s best to be rid of them. There are many ways to dispose of these thoughts, such as therapy or group meetings. I lean towards journaling as a daily therapeutic practice. I leave my thoughts on the page.

Photo by Clarke Sanders

Realize you control you. Your mind, your actions, your emotions are all in your control. If it is not one of these three, it is indeed out of your hands. This is why it is said you are only responsible for you. Of course, the meaning entirely changes depending on your position of authority. For instance, the president is responsible for the people of his nation. However, responsibility and control are clearly different in meaning. Responsibility indicates a duty and accountability while control indicates singular power. You have no power over what someone else thinks, does or feels. You have no command over the economy, natural occurrences, or social customs. You do have power over your response towards someone’s ignorance, giving aid in the event of natural disasters, and how you navigate social settings.

Photo by Frank McKenna

Meditate daily. There are many reasons and benefits for meditating. Meditating is another activity that helps you not only empty your mind but transform and renew it. Sometimes, it is initially hard to quiet the noise thundering in your mind. However, the pleasure of quietness does come with practice, and it comes with peace and understanding. Additionally, it does not have to be overly complicated. Some think your mind should be completely silent, but this would defeat the purpose, allowing the negative and unproductive thoughts to flood back in. Of course, this is not to negate the cultural or religious functions of meditation.

One should meditate with purpose. Meditation is an introspective activity performed on a two-way street and can be done in two manners: meditating on the divine, God, or meditating with your spirit (your mind, will and emotions). While meditating, you listen to understand, achieve inner peace, and confirm action. The outcome will be different for every individual. The effect should be better focus, connectivity, reduced stress and anxiety, and contentment.

Photo by Yannis Papanastasopoulos

Focus on a passion. When feeling stuck, overwhelmed or out of control, it always helps to go back to things you love. It has a way of transforming your thought. Take time to focus on the things you enjoy doing. Going back to the things that we love doing and spark joy help flood the mind with new perspectives and renewed purpose. The goal is to overshadow the negative energy of not having control with the positive energy of something you can control. You are acting, creating, and learning. This is essentially working on something you have control over. Furthermore, this also works as an escape to alleviate the mind and body.

Photo by Clint McKoy

Reconnect with nature. Getting grounded is another therapeutic practice with the addition of being fun. It helps you to disconnect and reconnect, get back to basics and renew with positive energy. There’s a reason why so many retreats, team buildings, and creative classes involve outdoor activities. In the act of being literally grounded (e.g. rock climbing, swimming, and horseback riding) you are becoming mentally grounded. There are levels to this depending on the activity you are doing due to the exchanges of energy. You will certainly have a different feeling when sky diving than hiking.

Photo by Brad Neathery

Choose one thing to be productive on. Just one thing? Yes! The mind is already overwhelmed, and it does not need to be overloaded with tasks. What it does need though, is a positive and productive activity with structure as idleness will lead to undesired outcomes. Working on one thing will help you keep focus, conserve your energy for achieving one goal, and in the end offer a feeling of accomplishment after meeting that goal. When feeling like everything is out of control, it is important to feel some semblance of control and that is simple by working on one thing—one task. One activity. One project. One goal.

At the start of this post, I did state that “where the situation appears complex, the solution may be simple.” This conditional phrase is true since sometimes we are able to solve our problems with a simple solution. However, there are times where we cannot face our problems alone and need outside help. If you find yourself in this situation, I urge you to seek out assistance. There’s no shame in asking for help. I do hope you are able to implement some of the suggestions discussed in this post and they are helpful, even if just some.

How will you be centered today when everything seems to be out of control? Do you have other helpful suggestions? Feel free to share with us in the comments below.

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