What Can You Control?

The Spheres of Control
  • challenged with self-control? remember that self-compassion actually creates more self-control and more readiness for change. Interestingly, social judgment – or negative self-talk – often hurts worse than random physical discomfort. Derail your “self-criticism train” with compassion

I can be really, really good at creating an action plan.

I’ll compile all the necessary papers I need. I’ll arrange everything perfectly in order before I begin. I’ll even color-coordinate pens and paper with the type of activity I’m planning.

Lots of organization and preparation – which do have value in certain situations. But notice something else…nothing was actually done.

I was great at creating an action plan for myself, to do the next day, probably.

[side note: Action plans are important – when followed through on. For me, I found the most help here once I started using a coach or finding someone to hold me accountable to my plans]

Great insight from the coaches at Precision Nutrition during my Level 2 course:

“Action plans can make us feel bad when we “lose control” and most importantly, can take the place of real action. Control just feels like action, a lot of the time…If we’re using control for evil, it’ll feel lousy. We’ll feel anxious and overwhelmed by “to-dos”, rules, and instructions. If we’re using control for good, it’ll feel great. We’ll wake up everyday feeling like our shit is so together, it’s compressing into a diamond.”

2 Exercises

Here are two exercises that you can do to help understand what you can control, and then take action (I’m available as your coach to help with this)

  1. Draw three concentric circles (like the picture above)
    • label the smallest circle “total control”.
    • label the middle circle “some control”.
    • label the outer circle “no control”.

Now start filling it in.

  • What in your life do you have total control over?
  • What do you have some control over?
  • What do you have no control over?

2. Review the diagram. Test your evidence for each one

  • Are you absolutely sure you have zero control over your work schedule? None? How do you know for sure? (hint, see if just asking at work helps)
  • Are you absolutely sure you have total control over your feelings? You’re just white-knuckling that ol’ lizard brain, no problemo? How do you know for sure?

What You Can Do Today

1. Highlight the items under “total control”.

Start there. You are the boss of those things. For realz. For the next few weeks, focus on making deliberate choices that reflect this reality. Control what you can actually control.

2. Think about the items under “some control”.

What could bring them into the “total control” sphere? What pushes them out into the “no control” sphere? When and how could you control these items? Do you need to control these? For now, just think about them.

3.  Let go of the items under “no control”.

All you can do is manage and dynamically respond to these, using whatever behaviors and other factors that you can control. Release your grasp on things you can’t control.

“There’s no bad weather. Only the wrong clothing.”

—Old farmer saying


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