On a daily basis, you work within many complex situations involving both individuals and families. Sometimes you would like to see something in your relationship with others change. In order to be happy, often times, you will want someone else to make that change. Unfortunately, this behavior can lead to feelings of being stuck, helpless or even some kind of emotional imprisonment.

What Can I Change?

Redirecting that attention back on yourself, and looking for things that you can change, can give you direction and motivation. When you focus on what you can control —You— Feelings of being stuck can change to feelings of freedom, helplessness can turn into hopefulness and emotional imprisonment can become empowerment.

Here is a simple task that can help: Take a piece of paper and make a column down the middle. On the left side of the column write, “What is in My Control?” and on the right side write, “What is Out of My Control?”

Take an Inventory

Now take an inventory of the events, situations, and experiences in your life that are frustrating or create other emotional disturbances. Write each item in the appropriate column. Some items you might need to break down into parts and place in separate columns. For instance, my spouse had a terrible childhood and it impacts our marriage. (I can’t control my spouse’s childhood, but I can control how I respond to my spouse’s behaviors and focus on how I can be supportive and caring.)

Refuel Gas Tank

When you spend time on items under the heading  “What is out of My Control,” it takes away emotional energy that could be spent on changing the items that are listed under “What is In My Control?” Simply put, focusing on “What is In My Control” refuels our gas tanks, focusing on “What is Out of My Control” empties our gas tanks.

A quote attributed to Gandhi is, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

© 2013 Rod W. Jeppsen