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4 Things That Are Within Your Control. 3 Things That Aren't.
Life & Travel

4 Things That Are Within Your Control. 3 Things That Aren't.

Recently, some friends of mine and I were discussing what our biggest pet peeves are. When it came time for me to share, I didn’t even hesitate. Due to certain family members, past friendships, and some of my clientele, Lord knows, I can’t stand it when people refuse to take accountability for their life or the problems/issues/drama that they cause — they blame what they say or do on other people, they constantly complain without making any changes, they make excuses or try and justify triflingness…I really could go on and on.


Yet the form of unaccountability that gets overlooked, far more than it should, in my opinion, are the people who attempt to control everything about someone else’s life when they need to be far more focused on their own. Like, how in the world are you over here worrying about me and what I’ve got going on when I can point out at least five things about your own world that should keep you good and busy? Whew, chile.

When I brought this up to my friends, one of them said, “You should write something about that because I think a lot of signals get crossed because a lot of people aren’t really clear about what they can control and what they can’t.” And since there are a ton of control freaks out here (for a myriad of different reasons), I decided to take her up on her suggestion — because maybe, just maybe, some people have control out of control because they need to put the word in its proper perspective.

So, let’s see what happens. Over the course of eh, 10 minutes (depending on how fast you read and how many times you have to switch tabs to keep your boss from seeing what you’re doing), let’s talk about some of the things that you actually do have control over along with some other things that you absolutely do not. By getting clarity on both, it could bring more peace into your life and more harmony when it comes to dealing with everything and everyone that’s around you (here’s hoping, y’all).

You CAN CONTROL Your Words

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“Don’t mix bad words with your bad mood. You’ll have many opportunities to change a mood, but you will never get the opportunity to replace the words you spoke.” (Unknown)

Someone who can’t control their words is someone who can’t control themselves. There’s no wiggle room on this, either. And that’s why it half tickles/half annoys me whenever I see someone on a social media video say something that is reckless as hell, only to follow it up with something along the lines of, “That’s just the way that I am” with their variation of an Elmo shrug.

Please stop. You are that way because YOU CHOOSE to be that way — and chances are, you keep not controlling your mouth/tongue/words because there haven’t been enough consequences (yet) to get you to reel all of that thatness back in.

Listen, as someone who is known for being very direct and extremely candid, I get that there are some of us out here who are more comfortable being, let’s say, “verbally bold” than others. Yet there is also something to be said for timing, motive, delivery, and tone — and no matter what is going on around you, you have control over all of those.

So, how do you get control of your words if that’s not something that you’re used to doing? Listen and then ponder what is being said before speaking. Check the reason behind why you’re about to say…whatever you’re about to say. Ask yourself if whatever you’re about to share is going to do more harm than good. And above all else, free yourself from needing to get the last word all of the time. A person who is confident that their words are solid enough that they don’t need a ton of explaining or defending? That is someone who has mastered their tongue far more than most.

There’s a reason why Scripture says that death and life are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21), and an untamed tongue is “unruly evil, full of deadly poison” (James 3:8). It’s because words are powerful. You know who is even more powerful than words, though? The vessel who is able to control which ones come out of them.

You CAN CONTROL Your Attitude

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“You can control your attitude. Set it each morning.” (Earl Nightingale)

Not too long ago, I was asked in an interview about what I can see in adults that their parents totally dropped the ball on. The first thing that came out of my mouth was “Attitude. Too many people are all over the place emotionally because they don’t seem to know how to keep their attitude in check. It’s like they look like adults while acting like toddlers.” A big part of this is because they never fully or properly learned that although you can’t always control what happens to you, you can absolutely control how you respond or react to those things — and doing so is a sign of peak emotional maturity.

That’s why it’s always a huge red flag to me when someone flies off of the handle and then goes on to say that they did so because of what so-and-so said or did. That’s not taking accountability for your words/actions because no one made you do anything. If you feel otherwise, there is some growing up, in the lane of your attitude, that needs to be done.

So, what if you’re someone who is not used to keeping your attitude in check? That’s a good question. Something that you may want to start doing is journaling about if you tend to have more of a negative or a positive kind of attitude. If it’s the former, be intentional about surrounding yourself with more positive people and things. Another thing to do is get real about yourself if you operate from a mindset of lack or from a mindset of gratitude. The reason why I say this is because, if you always think that something is happening to you instead of for your greater good, that can keep you in a bitter and ultimately counterproductive state.

Another tip? Get a grip on the reality that the only person you can control is yourself. In fact, I’d venture to say that what pisses a lot of people off about others and their words/actions is they — wait for it — can’t control them. A lot of us spend a lot of time on what we think people should do, based on how we see things; then, when things don’t go according to our plans and perceptions…here comes the attitude (more on that in a bit).

Now am I saying that you should suppress your feelings? No. What I am saying is taking the time to get quiet and still enough to ponder and process before responding (and especially reacting) is a really wise and mature idea. And yes, no matter what is going on, doing this is something that you absolutely can…control.

You CAN CONTROL Your Boundaries

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"Our boundaries define our personal space — and we need to be sovereign there in order to be able to step into our full power and potential." (Jessica Moore)

I grew up in a household that, quite frankly, didn't give a damn about my boundaries. What's even wilder is the fact that, even as I became an adult, that didn't change very much. Some of it was due to abuse, flat-out. And then some of it was due to the fact that…I really think that more parents should go to therapy once their children are somewhere around college age. It can take a lot of self-work to reprogram your mind to see the people who you once raised as adults who have every right in the world to tell you "no" once they are responsible for their own life.

Helicopter parenting and controlling parents are kind of another topic for another time. At the same time, I do think they are a good lead-in for this next thing that you can control — and that is your boundaries. Now for the record, boundaries aren't walls. Boundaries aren't barbed-wire fences, either. Some folks need to hear that because what they think is a healthy boundary is actually a loud reaction to pain.

No, what I'm speaking of is a limit — and yes, as an adult, you have the right to set limits with whomever you want to, and no, you don't owe people a justification or an explanation for doing so. As I oftentimes say, going beyond a "no" is privileged information; no one — and I do mean no one — has an automatic right to it.

And here's what's wild about setting limits — once you do so, you're able to see who is good at respecting boundaries and who isn't because the moment someone tries to get you to break down your boundaries to them, those are typically the ones who are looking for loopholes, just so that they can break them.

You know what else is wild about boundaries? They can manifest in all sorts of unexpected ways. For instance, anyone who knows me (according to my definition of the word; check out "5 Signs You Really Know A Person") knows that I'm a pretty generous person. Oh, and don't have someone be a fellow Gemini (A LOT of my world is) because I'm really gonna show out! Even as I'm typing this, it's a friend's birthday, and when I asked him what he wanted, he said "nothing"; that he was blessed, had the need for nothing, and really just wanted to chill.

We've been friends for many years at this point, so in times past, I used to "railroad him with generosity" and do things for him anyway. While he was always gracious, it would end up putting tension on the friendship because he was never as excited as I would've been (on the receiving end), and that would make me feel like he didn't appreciate my efforts. Maturity has taught me that, actually, I was disrespecting him by not listening to what he said he wanted/needed on HIS day. It wasn't about what I thought about it — it was about honoring him and his limits…whether I agreed with them, understood them, or…not.

Yeah, boundaries are a mutha, yet never get out of your psyche that you are in complete and total control when it comes to the limits that you set for your own life. Do it without fear. Do it without reservation or apology. Do it exactly where you need to. Hmph. Let me tell it, the more folks who settle into the empowerment of this particular point, the less they will need to control things that they can't control.

We'll get into those "can'ts" after one more point.

You CAN CONTROL Your Timing

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"Until you value yourself, you will not value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it." (M. Scott Peck)

This an interesting one because, off the top, you might be tempted to give it a bit of pushback. After all, you can't control the universe… universe-ing and even Scripture tells us that there is a time and season for everything (Ecclesiastes 3). While things do change, we can't always determine how, when, or why they will.

That said, what I mean by timing is you can control how YOU move — and you can. You can determine what's a waste of your time (by definition, if it's not giving you an adequate return on your investment, for the most part, it is a waste). You can determine if/when it is a good idea, for your sake, to say or do something at any given time. There are certain things that you can do that will actually help you to reclaim some of your time (check out "Here Are 10 Ways To Absolutely Reclaim Your Time, Sis"). You can also teach yourself how to become a more patient individual so that you don't move emotionally or impulsively. And how can you master that?

  • Slow down
  • Be mindful (learn how to make the most of each moment you are in)
  • Stay grateful
  • Strengthen your self-control skills
  • Remind yourself that receiving something when it's best for you is best

Also, listen to your body and your conscience. If you're about to do something and your body immediately becomes anxious or tense, take a moment to ask yourself, "Why?" Patient people tend to be more peaceful than others because they aren't trying to rush matters — they just stay in a state of readiness for them. And yes, on many levels, that is absolutely something that we all can control (the readiness, that is). A state of readiness has a very profound influence on timing.

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You CAN’T CONTROL Other People

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“Control leaves no room for trust.” (Glennon Doyle)

I’ve got a girlfriend who used to say all of the time that “should” is a really big word. Initially, I didn’t really understand where she was coming from — until she said it so much that it low-key got on my nerves enough that I decided to hone in on when and how I applied “should” in my own life. And boy, was it a revelation. I couldn’t believe how many times I unnecessarily found myself feeling triggered, upset, or disappointed, and it was all because I was should-ing all over the place — they should say this, they should’ve done that, it should’ve gone this way. How arrogant of me.

Why do I use the word “arrogant”? Because my shoulds were nothing more than projections that were based on my own perspectives. Someone should make a big deal about birthdays because I do? Someone should text by the EOD because I tend to do it immediately. Someone should take a particular approach to a political or moral issue simply because I do. Yes, y’all — that is ego oozing all over the place. Besides, how would you feel if someone was should-ing all over you?

The quote that comes along with this particular point is actually a pretty profound one because the author is right — a lot of control comes from a lack of trust. When it comes to intimate relationships, sometimes it’s not trusting that they will stick around, rise to the occasion or meet your needs. When it comes to humans, in general, it’s more about trusting in the fact that just like you are an individual who deserves the safety and respect to be your own self, they deserve the same thing; that where you and someone else complement one another, awesome….where you don’t, trust the universe to handle it instead of (poorly) attempting to exert your power over them to make them more like you.

Yeah, life flows a lot smoother and sweeter when you’re not should-ing all over everyone. I can personally attest to that, chile. Stop trying to control other people. It’s arrogant and ultimately…futile.

You CAN’T CONTROL What Happens Outside of Your Home/Personal Space

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“Anything you can’t control is teaching you how to let go.” (Unknown)

This is why, even when people try to gaslight me about how strict my home-sanctuary boundaries are, it doesn’t phase my ambivert ass one bit. Because the more I accept that I can’t control things beyond my home and personal space, the more I am perfectly fine with controlling those two areas and the energy that comes into them.

Not only that but…peep the quote for this particular point. Even though everything around us can teach us something (if we’re open to learning), who wants to be a student 24/7 with no time off? Controlling where you dwell and your personal space actually gets you time “off of the clock” so that you can better handle/manage the chaos that oftentimes comes with people, places, things, and ideas that are outside of yourself.

I promise you that the more you focus on making your house a home and the more that you are intentional about how your energy is affected, the easier it is to accept that if someone talks crazy to you in the grocery store, there’s no need to totally fly off of the handle. Handle things in a responsible way, knowing that in just a few moments, you can head back to your space of peace…your home.

You CAN’T (TOTALLY) CONTROL the Future

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If you try to control everything, and then you worry about things you can’t control, you are setting yourself up for a lifetime of frustration and misery.” (Unknown)

Final one. The reason why I say that you can’t totally control the future is that using discernment, common sense, and applying the things that we just talked about all definitely play a role in influencing how your future will go. Yet when you factor in that, you can’t control people and the space beyond your home, this means that there will be a ton of times when life simply does not go as desired or planned. You can’t control someone loving you the way you may want them to. You can’t control if a crisis happens or not. You can’t control if one day you lose your job (for reasons that have nothing to do with you).

Listen, when my place burned down three days before Christmas back in 2021, it was amazing how calm I was. As firemen were hosing it all down, I went to my already scheduled pedicure appointment. Why? Because I can only control what I can control, and I had to trust that even though my present was looking totally off the chain (and not in a good way), seasons change, and, at some point, the future would reveal some things to me.

One came from an instructor that I had a few months ago. Long story short, she revealed that the exact date of the fire was the date on a particular calendar of a rebirth that marked a certain era that only a few people would be a part of because it was marked by trauma. My middle name means rebirth, and the era is something that I am very passionate about — so it all tracked. I couldn’t control the future, yet not trying to is how I moved into the revelations that I received. Hmph. Funny how life works that way. Surrender over what you can’t control and watch how much it matures what you can control.

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A writer by the name of Katie St. Claire once said, “No one has the patent on you.” Rest in that as far as what you can control, and also remember that this point applies to others too.

Goodness. If we all just focused on controlling what we actually can control, this world would be a lot less chaotic, that’s for sure. Yet hey — you can only control you, so focus on that and let the chips fall where they may with everyone else…elsewhere.

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Featured image by PeopleImages/Getty Images

 

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