/  Mental Health   /   Accepting What You Can’t Control

Hanging on to things that are not in your control can be detrimental to your mental and physical health. It is important to learn when to let things go and focus on what you do have control over. It can be challenging to notice the things that you do have control over, which is why it is essential to step back and take stock of what is and what is not within your control.

We Admitted We Were Powerless

The first step of the 12-Step philosophy focuses on admitting that you are not in control of yourself or your life under the influence of substances. You acknowledged that your life had become unmanageable. This realization can be a difficult one to admit. You might have started using substances as a way to feel more in control of the chaos around you, but all it did was make things worse. In treatment, you probably came to terms with the fact that you were not in control of your substance use. You also probably came to realize many things exist outside of your control.

This truth can be scary to accept, especially if your life has been unstable. Believing that you can control everything might give you a sense of security. Being in complete control of a situation might make you feel safe enough to proceed, but trying to be in control of absolutely everything is not only unrealistic but also harmful.

The Dangers of Holding on for Too Long

Life is not always fair, nor is it always stable. Things happen that you will not have control over. Whether you are dealing with rejection from a job, a breakup, or a lost loved one, life throws many curveballs. While you might wish you could prevent these things from happening or change their course, some things are not within your control. You might have a habit of dwelling on these things, thinking of ways you could have prevented it or how you could prevent it in the future. The truth is, though, some things just are not in your power to change, and all you can do is accept it and let it go.

Holding on to things you cannot control only adds to the negative feelings you may be experiencing. These toxic emotions can eat away at your self-esteem and outlook on life. In order to deal with and heal from chaos and instability, you must first learn to accept the role you can play in moments that are out of your control.

It is impossible to process these events if you are still holding onto how you can change these outcomes in your favor. At the moment, you might be holding on to the illusion that you are in control, but in reality, that is all it is; an illusion. Once you have understood that you are not in control, you can begin healing and letting go.

Accepting What You Can’t Control

Learning what you do or do not have control over can take time, but it is vital to regulate stress and know how to react to problems in your life appropriately. There is more that you will not be able to control than you may expect. Start with the obvious, like not being able to control the weather. Then think about other parts of your life that are not in your control. For example, interpersonal relationships will not be entirely in your control because relationships are a two-way street. You cannot dictate how another person acts or feels without disrespecting boundaries and being manipulative.

Realizing What You Can Control

One thing that you absolutely have control over is your actions and choices. While there might be some factors that limit this control to an extent—such as mental health—you are, for the most part, in more control of yourself than you are of things outside of yourself. You are in control of your breathing. You are in control of how you treat others. You are in control of how you treat yourself. You are in control of the part you play in a relationship, and you are in control of the things you say or do not say.

Take a moment to assess what is and is not in your control. Create a list of things that are in your control and things that are not. Try to release each item one by one in the list of things that are not in your control. It can be hard to release these things, especially if things have felt out of control in the past. Eventually, you will have to deal with the chaos. Fortunately, you will have the tools to do so responsibly.

Control can help you feel stable. Feeling like your life is out of your control can make things feel overwhelming and unbearable, but the truth is there are many things that simply just aren’t in your control. Letting go of that need to control can be terrifying, but it’s something that you must come to terms with if you are going to heal and deal with current issues. Dwelling on what you can’t control only takes away your energy to deal with what you can. There are things in your life that you do have control over. You have control over your actions and how you choose to respond.

At Jaywalker Lodge, we focus on the first step of the 12-Step philosophy, which reminds us that we weren’t in control of our substance use. If you’re interested in learning how to distinguish between what is and isn’t in your control, call us today at (866) 529-9255.