Luring a hungry bird in for a good picture
There are few things in life that are more challenging and defining than how a person deals with things that are beyond their control. Whether it is the loss of a job, the behavior or decisions of other people, or serious illness, there are countless things that are out of our control and possibly beyond our understanding. It is impossible to live a full life if you cannot accept and live with those things beyond your control. You must commit yourself to living life to the fullest regardless of those things, and in some cases because of the inevitability of those things. Trying to control things that are out of your control will result in stress, tension, unhappiness, and will ultimately impact your ability to live the fullest and happiest life that you can. If something is truly beyond your control, efforts to control it will fail, may make it worse, and will probably lead to frustration and unhappiness for you and others in the process.

A couple on the edge of Half Dome 2011As long as you are doing everything you can to control the negative things in your life that you can control, the things you can’t control are not as important; however you must have a positive way of dealing with them. There is no “magic formula” that works for everyone. Some people deal with things beyond their control by turning their lives over to a higher power. When a person’s faith in the higher power is strong, this can be a very effective, positive, and calming way to deal with these situations. A related way is to accept that what is happening is fate or not; meant to be or not. In both cases there is no need to try to understand why it is happening, the person just accepts that it is out of their control, accepts it as an unavoidable situation, and lives.

I accept that there are things beyond my control but I don’t have a tried and true way to deal with these situations. The best way I’ve found to deal with things beyond my control is to accept that life and other people are complex things and that I can’t control or even predict what will happen. Life is not scripted. I’m very good at predicting what will happen next in movies, but real life is complex, messy, and we don’t control everything, regardless of how important it is to us.  To be honest, life would be pretty boring if everything was “in our control”.  I don’t believe happiness would exist without unhappiness! The most exciting things in life are those that surprise us, challenge us, and that are completely unscripted. A love potion would take all the fun out of love.

A guy on the edge of Half Dome 2011Use care in assigning the things that happen to you in life as fate, or the decisions of a higher power. This can be a good way to deal with things beyond your control. However, I’ve seen too many times when people apply these same techniques to things they can control. You can decide whether or not to have that ice cream cone, or buy that luxury car. You do control whether to get out and do something or to sit around the house. Don’t let the complexity of life and the difficulty of making good decisions lead to a feeling that everything is out of your control.

Regardless of how you deal with things beyond your control, you have to live your life your way.  Be true to yourself never short change yourself.  Be honest with other people about who you are, what you want in life, and what’s important to you.  If family and friends are the most important things in your life, then live that way.  If independence and complete control of your own life is the most important thing in your life, then live that way.  The truth is that by midlife most people can’t change their core beliefs, and most shouldn’t try. When faced with things beyond your control, deal with the emotions, learn any lessons that are there to be learned, and move on with living your life to the fullest!

Another post about dealing with things beyond your control: Serenity

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