When the World Feels Out of Control, Focus on What You Can Control

Focus on what you can control amid life's chaos

Focus on what you can control amid life’s chaos

For those suffering from post-election PTSD or other feelings of worry, despair or emotional upheaval, your pain is shared throughout the country and the world. However, for the sake of your emotional health and your ability to pilot the controllable factors in your life, it’s important to shift to another focus periodically.

Fear and worry generate more fear and worry, and a cycle of despair becomes inescapable. While this is happening, finding perspective becomes harder and we find ourselves trapped in our own minds. For example, while we focus on the daily news, we might overlook other important areas of life—family, health, work, education, community, finances— all which need our energy and thoughtful attention.

We have limited time and energy. Instead of draining it on the news, consider focusing it on alternative actions (not alternative facts) that will lead to overall happiness. Get started here:

  1. Your financial stability—what action can you take to move closer to accomplishing your goals and living your values? Are you saving enough for retirement? Are you spending on areas that provide you little to no real value? Focus on reducing debt or increasing your savings through a carefully devised financial plan that addresses all aspects of your financial life. The goal is to create options for your future and not feel trapped and constrained by financial worry.
  2. Your physical health—what steps can you take now to improve your health and vitality? Yes, sleep is difficult when you are feeling worry and dread. If your health suffers, everything else will, too. Sitting on the couch for watching the screen for too long will negatively impact your physical health and make you miserable to boot.
  3. Your emotional well-being—here’s where family and community play such a vital role. Focusing on the needs of others can help take us out of our own headspace and re-center to needs beyond our thoughts. If you find this difficult to do, get some help from a qualified therapist who can help you with tools and guidance.
  4. Your work/career goals—what tools, knowledge, or awareness do you need to remain current, relevant and on an upward trajectory? Are changes happening in your industry that require different skills? How can you add value and remain valuable? These are worthy places to spend time and energy.

Our world has seen so many brain-rattling changes and challenges. History is replete with stories of famine, destruction, war and tragedies, but it’s also filled with wonderful accomplishments, art, music, beauty, invention and resilience. It is that resilience we all need to hold onto and learn from. It is imbued in our human spirit to overcome adversity and challenge.

There is much to celebrate in the spirit of those who work to effect change and make the world a better place. The difference between those who fret and worry versus those who are actively involved is the word “active.” Think about the big picture. Have visions, have big goals, get inspired. Whether you are trying to better the world, your health, your family, your community or your finances, the word “active” is the key. Don’t sit on the sidelines and allow worry to be the landing zone; instead, make it your jumping-off point. It’s what your heart really wants.