Dealing With What You Can Control

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Someone asked me to explain how to know the difference between the things we can control and the things we cannot control. Good question. People who try to take on what is not in their power to handle will continually be frustrated by their failed efforts. To clarify, having control means having the power- the ability—to change an undesirable condition to better suit our needs—without the use of manipulation, force or cruelty.

A good starting point is to ask yourself:“Do I have the power to do something about this situation without doing what is morally wrong?”If the answer is yes, then go through your available options. If you can’t do anything about it, let God do it. Stop trying to come up with ways to do what can’t be done. If you can do something, then formulate a strategy and do whatever it takes (legally and morally right) to make things change for the better.

For example-What can you do if you’ve lost your job and can’t pay the bills? First, you can eliminate unnecessary items (like cable and eating out). You can also make payment arrangements with creditors while job hunting. If‘the’job can’t be found then‘a’job will have to do. Survival is on top of the priority list. Pride at the bottom. Sometimes we just gotta do what we gotta do.

Humans are three part creations—Spirit, Soul, and Body. God intended our spirit to regulate the activities of our soul (mind, will, emotions) and our body. Because our souls and our bodies were never meant to run our lives, these can be controlled:

  • Our emotions. Sound judgment is required to solve problems and emotions are erratic. Negative emotions will never breed positive results. It takes practice to reel them back in when they go wild…but we do have the power to put those babies to bed. Our behavior. One definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Many times the problems we are facing are the consequences of our past choices. However, faulty behavior can be corrected if it is recognized as wrong, and if we care enough about ourselves and others to fix the issues that are causing problems.
  • Our attitudes. Pity-parties and blame games are pointless. People with sorry attitudes have a lower chance of getting ahead because people don’t like being around someone who drags them down. Happiness is a choice that we must make every day.
  • Our finances and overall success are directly related to our choices. Those who plan for their future are likely to get where they want to go. The economy and available opportunities may deter our progress, and adjustments may be necessary to get what we want, but we have the power to get ahead financially if we are willing to work hard, spend wisely and save the rest.
  • Our health. Barring accidents and/or disease, people born in good health are likely to remain healthy; if they take care of themselves by eating nutritious foods, getting enough rest and exercise, and are wise in their choice of friends and activities. However, people who are born healthy can damage their health and shorten their lives by choosing to abuse their bodies in some way.

Never under our control:

  • The behavior of others. People will mistreat us, misjudge us, misunderstand us, cheat on us and lie to us as long as they choose not to change their behavior. No amount of yelling, crying, hitting or cussing will change a person who doesn’t want to change.
  • The emotions of others. Some people will never like us. Some will never love us. Some will never love us as much as we love them. This includes our own family—because they are human too.
  • Nature/Weather—Nothing we do will make the seasons change before their time. The drought will end when God is ready to pour down the rain.
  • Laws. Once laws are set we’ve got to follow them or reap the consequences.
  • Aging—Our bodies degenerate and our appearance changes the longer we live. I figured out why. By the time we get to the age where our eyes and ears don’t work, our skin doesn’t snap back, our bones ache and our muscles sag—we are ready for the renewed body God promised us.
  • Death. It will take us quietly or kicking and screaming—but it will take us. There you have it. With practice we can take total control over our emotions, our attitudes and our behavior. By carrying out a plan of action, much can be done about our health, finances and success. Life is short. Let’s enjoy each season of life—nature’s and our own.

Work hard, play hard and pray hard and don’t lose yourself to the pressures of life. God’s got your back.

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