Do you overeat when you feel like your life is out of control, when you feel overwhelmed, or when you feel stressed out? Examining the way you approach the issue of control in your life can have a tremendous impact on how you feel—and on your eating.
One of my biggest rules for stress management is that when things feel out of control, it’s crucial to identify the parts of your life that you can control and take charge of these with purpose. During stressful times, a critical mistake we make too often is letting go of the small things we can control because we are so focused on worrying about things that we can’t.
Having control, or taking control or taking charge is one of the most powerful things we can do. It’s one of the primary ways that we can be effective in our lives. Feeling out of control can be a very scary feeling place; AND countless years of energy have been wasted by people—me included—spending time and effort trying to control things we really have no power to control at all.
I believe that one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves is that of taking the time and effort to identify the places in our life where we have control and also the areas of our life where we don’t. Knowing what we can control and what we can’t empowers us to be effective. It allows us to target our behavior in ways that will be rewarding. Spending our time and energy trying to be in control of things that aren’t possible to control isn’t just inefficient. When we try to control things that are not within our control, we not only waste valuable energy, we create stress.
Here are some examples:
I can’t control someone else’s reaction or someone else’s behavior. I waste my time worrying about the weather. I cannot control what I will weigh if I step on the scale today and I have no control over how long I am going to wait for my doctor’s appointment this afternoon.
These are all things that can’t be changed and focusing my energy on worrying about them or trying to make them different is only going to leave me worried and possibly feeling out of control.
In all of those situations there ARE things that I can control:
I can’t control your reaction, but I can control mine. I can control my behavior in the face of the behavior of others. I can’t control whether it rains or sleets but I can control what I have with me in anticipation of the weather or whether I have a backup plan in case the weather affects my plans.
The scale will say whatever it will say today. But I AM in control of what I do today in order to impact my weight and my health in the coming months. I’m in charge of what I do with my time if I am required to wait at the doctor’s office.
This week, I challenge you to make a list of the things, activities, behaviors in your life that you are in control of and that contribute to your thriving, to your stress management and to your well being.
Here are some examples that often come up for clients. Notice that they are small things and can probably be completed even in the midst of a very overwhelming situation:
- Taking your vitamins
- Drinking your water
- Washing your face
- Making time for a daily ten minute walk
- Making sure you connect with a friend.
What can you control that you could do a better job of? Choose one thing.
Now, make a list of anything you really can’t control that you are trying to control. Be honest with yourself.
I challenge you to choose one thing on that list to let go of. Choose one thing. You can even let go of it by leaving it here in a comment.
Take good care,