“If everything seems to be under control, you are not going fast enough.” Mario Andretti
A short extract about control from the International Bestseller by Jaime Jackson, “The Shi*t I Wished I Learned in College.”
There are very few things we can control. We can control how we choose to see things, we can control how we choose to react to things. However, we cannot always control what happens to us or around us, but we can control how we react to it. Our anxiety comes from wanting things that are outside our control. We can control our point of view. And, we can control how we feel and how we see the world. We can also control how we react to circumstances around us.
Ride the wave and focus
We can get on the surfboard and be riding the wave, then we may find ourselves underwater. Relax, accept it, rely on your physical and mental training and the waves will pass over us. We cannot always control the stimulus, but we can control our response. We can control our own behavior, our own actions, and reactions.
We must focus on what is within our control and let go of what we cannot control. What other people do and think is their choice, not ours. Do what we can do and do it well in line with our virtues and values. Control is defined in the dictionary as: “to exercise restraining or directing influence over; to have power over.” How do we choose to exercise our control? Do we choose to respond with anger, spite, vitriol, revenge? The better course of action is to pause, reflect, contemplate, plan, then respond with courage, confidence, calmness, and clarity.
Consider you may not always be right. Have the courage and mindset to look at what you can control and let go of what you cannot control. At first thought, this is tough to reconcile with the Stoic benchmark principles Epictetus taught of concentrating on what you can control (your thoughts, mind, and choices) and what you cannot control (externals).
However, the concepts are perfectly aligned. Like the race car driver, a skier, or biker, we are behind the wheel—we are in control. That is until you hit a pothole, or someone hits you, but those are externals. If we focus on what we can control, we can indeed put the pedal to the metal and act. We may have the sensation we are “out of control,” however, with well- planned preparation and training, we are not. We maintain control of ourselves and proceed according to our well thought out plan. External problems may happen on our journey that temporarily sends us spinning out of control, but we remain behind the wheel with our feet on the gas or brake, shifting gears as we go, but still in control.
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