If you are facing life challenges, such as a break up, illness, tragic choices made by family members, or financial distress, your life can feel out of control. As a result, you can feel helpless and powerless, and become anxious, overwhelmed, and depressed.
There are many things we don’t have control over in our lives and many more that we have very little control over. While we may not be able to change our external circumstances, what we can change is our internal perspective, and this can make all the difference in the world.
It may be difficult to change negative thought patterns, let go of grudges, and stop complaining about our circumstances, all of which bring us a certain comfort. Yet with practice, we can control our thoughts and change our perspective. We can admit to our negative thinking, understand it, and then move on.
Viktor Frankl, who survived the most dire circumstances in the Auschwitz Concentration Camp, said, “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”
Therefore, we should focus on what we usually do have control over. We often can determine the following:
1. how we spend our time,
2. whom we spend our time with,
3. what we read,
4. what we think about,
5. how to view the events in our lives,
6. what we learn from our relationships,
7. how to respond to other people—their love, their anger, their expectations,
8. the words and tone we use,
9. where we spend our time.
Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.
~Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning
by Alison Poulsen, PhD