I have a sign in my office that says “The only person you can control is yourself.” Why do I have that sign? Because I found myself saying that phrase several times a week, sometimes even multiple times in a single session. In one such session I joked about making it into a sign so I could just start pointing to it. Then I did just that. My client at least got a kick out of it and now I use it for a bunch of other clients as well.
What about this phrase made it so prevalent in my sessions to the point where I made a sign so I could point to it? Control is something that we all struggle with. How many times have you wanted to shake a person and that would be enough for them to listen to you and actually do the thing you just know would be better for them? My guess is a lot. I haven’t met a single person who doesn’t think they know what is best for a loved one.
How do you know you are running into a problem that you have no control over? Ask yourself these questions.
Whose problem is this? It is easy to feel like other people’s problems are our own. We generally do not like seeing loved ones struggle with anything. A lot of people have the habit of taking on other people’s problems. It comes from a good place. We want to help our loved ones. But taking on other people's problems is exhausting mostly because there is little that we can do to change the outcome when the problem is actually someone else's.
What can I do? This can go a couple of ways depending on how you answered that first question. If you answered that the problem was someone else's then there’s a few things you can do: listen to them vent (sometimes people just need a good vent) let the person know clearly how you feel or let them know how you would handle the situation. After that you have to let go. Once you have done what you have control of that is it.
That last part is the part most people have difficulty with. Letting go of the situation. My best advice for this is often the simplest. Take a deep breathe, take a step back, and then walk away. Go do something you truly enjoy and make an effort to put the situation that is bothering you. It is a frustrating process, but it gets easier with practice.