Well-Being

The Extraordinary Benefits of Accepting What You Can’t Control

Accepting What You Can't Control

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Short and Sweet Summary: Accepting what you can’t control creates happiness where it counts – in your reaction to a circumstance. When you accept that you can’t manipulate the Universe, what was once an obstacle to control is no longer a stopping point on your journey. It’s a crossroads leading to happiness and change for the better.

It’s easy to get frustrated by the circumstances in your life that are beyond your control.

I mean, your spouse died and you couldn’t do anything about it. You can’t change the stupid, unsympathetic things people say to you now that you’re a widow. Maybe your kids or extended family members are channeling their grief in unsafe or inappropriate ways.

The ripple effects of death are far reaching.

Even though people tell you everything is going to be okay, you don’t believe them. Sometimes you feel like you’re battling everyone and everything for just a sliver of control over one little thing.

And then the fear kicks in and your white-knuckle grip gets tighter. Instead of accepting things outside of your control, you try to control even more in an attempt to keep the fear monster at bay.

Acceptance of death or the after-effects of death are especially hard for widows. We suffer from some pretty significant secondary losses that we may not even be aware of until one or two years after the death.

All of these losses add up to a control tug-of-war between you and external circumstances.

So what is a widow to do?

Accept the things outside of your control anyway. Even though you think you can’t do it, or you shouldn’t have to do it, or you don’t know how to do it, just try anyway.

Accepting things the way they are is not only crucial for your mental health, it helps you grieve. It’s exhausting to constantly fight for control of everything, not to mention wildly impractical. You can’t grieve in any supportive way when you’re trying to control uncontrollable things.

Ready to reap the benefits of accepting what’s outside of your control?

Yay! Let’s do this!

YOU’LL FEEL BETTER ABOUT YOURSELF

There is peace in letting go.

It’s a peaceful, and powerful, feeling when you finally release that white-knuckle grip over control.

It’s impossible not to feel better about yourself when you gain the clarity you’ve been missing from beating your head against a wall. Your energy returns because it’s not drained from trying to control circumstances that are outside of you. And you can focus on the things in your life that you do control.

Like your mindset.

A fascinating thing happens when you accept that you can’t control the things you thought you could. You realize how you’ve been causing some of your own suffering by hanging on to the idea that you are somehow omnipotent enough to manipulate the Universe.

Whew. Don’t you feel better about yourself now that you know you aren’t in charge of everything?!

This newfound perspective of accepting what you can’t control leaves more room for self-acceptance instead of self-judgement. You’ll definitely feel better about yourself when you start practicing more self-acceptance.

YOU’LL LEARN TO LIVE IN THE MOMENT

What happened, happened.

Whether it’s your spouse’s death, your in-laws’ rants, or your friend’s inconsiderate remarks, it’s already done and you can’t change it. When you stop trying to control the past, you drop the heavy emotional load you’ve been carrying.

And when you drop the heavy emotional load you’ve been carrying, you start to worry less about what happened in the past to bring you to this moment. You understand the important thing is to start from wherever you are right now.

Learning to live in the moment is a natural reaction to accepting what you can’t control. When you drop the load of resistance and accept what you can’t control, you begin to expect less from others and focus more on your own wants and needs today. Right now. In this moment.

Because you’re not focused on past events.

And then your brain gets cleared of the worry about those past occurrences that used to cloud your judgement and influence your behavior. So you can get on with living for today.

If letting go of expectations and accepting what you can’t control sounds amazing, it is!

Go ahead. Try it!

YOU REDISCOVER WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY

It’s pretty stressful when you feel like things are out of your control. No good coping mechanisms work when you’re battling a bully like control.

However, when you’re not constantly fighting against what you can’t control, you automatically find better ways to cope. And when you find better ways to cope, you focus less on negative emotions and more on what makes you happy.

It’s a win-win.

Happiness comes from focusing on what brings you joy. The only way you can find this focus is to stop battling for control.

YOU’LL BE MORE MOTIVATED TO CHANGE

I remember the days of trying to manipulate the Universe. I spent far too much time scurrying around, trying to prevent perceived roadblocks. My confidence plunged every time I worried about how to impede my imagined opponent’s next step. I just kept repeating the same old tired plays from the same old tired playbook.

Too often, things are out of your control because you expect too much, like me. I stuck my heels in and didn’t want to change.

Until not wanting to change caused too much of my own suffering.

Letting go and learning to accept what you can’t control leads to a positive shift in attitude. What does a positive shift in attitude lead to? More motivation to change what isn’t serving you.

Once the motivation to change what isn’t serving you starts, it’s hard to stop the flow. Your self-confidence wakes up from its deep sleep. People around you notice a positive shift in your attitude. Your brain provides evidence of things that are going right instead of everything that can go wrong when you’re trying to control the uncontrollable.

The best part? You’ll be better equipped to handle any new out-of-your-control situations that come along.

I had a hard time believing before that change is good.

Now I know.

YOU’LL BECOME A MENTOR

Having a “been there and done that” experience means you’re able to share your experiences with others in the same situation.

Once you cross the threshold from widow sufferer to widow warrior, you can’t help but shout it from the rooftop! I suffered greatly before I learned to accept what I can’t control. I now know that I caused a lot of that suffering myself. And I don’t want you to experience the same.

So I share my messages here on these posts and by working with widows who need help getting their hope mojo back. Maybe you’ll be able to mentor another widow in your community, in an online grief support group, or by starting your own blog.

It’s so important for widows to learn from those who’ve come before them. We all had to find new ways to slog through grief’s pain pit and come out on the other side.

By learning to accept what you can’t control, you might be that bright light for a recent widow who sees nothing but darkness right now.

WIDOW WRAP UP

Accepting what you can’t control creates happiness where it counts – in your reaction to a circumstance. With this in mind, what was once an obstacle to control is no longer a stopping point on your journey. It’s a crossroads leading to happiness and change for the better.

It’s important to remember one crucial point, though.

Accepting what you can’t control doesn’t mean lying down in defeat. You’re not just suddenly letting people walk all over you or treat you with disrespect. Or throwing your hands up in the air in an “oh well, nothing I can do about it anyway” mentality.

The difference is you’re not tying circumstances beyond your control or someone else’s behavior to how you manage your life. You decide what’s worth your time and energy and understand that you’re in charge of yourself and your reaction to any situation.

You stop playing control tug-of-war with external circumstances.

And find peace and power in the process.

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4 Comments

  1. Thanks Kim. This was very timely for me. It’s been a little over two years since my husband died. I still constantly ask why but then I realize, I don’t need to know why because that wouldn’t change the outcome. I think accepting what life throws at you is the first step to realizing you can’t control everything. But you can control how you react. Thanks again for this message.

    1. Cindy, this is everything! I’m happy to know you “don’t need to know why because that wouldn’t change the outcome.” A thousand times yes! You’ve come a long way and should be SO VERY PROUD ❤.

  2. Thank you for how simply you express these points. So logically, I wonder why I didn’t figure it out sooner, myself. Oh yeah, I was too busy trying to pick myself up off the ground, getting back on track. Surprisingly simple baby steps, get up, get dressed, make the bed, open the blinds, turn on cheerful/happy music. Small successes, go for a little walk in the fresh air, speak to people I meet, even if it’s only hello. Arrive back home, without crying that’s a good day. I’m enjoying your posts. Thanks for being there.

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