Over the past 5 weeks I have been coaching 55 people specifically around building their emotional resilience and mindset - and the most common theme is around control, many people have found themselves focusing on the things that they can’t control - things such as, will I lose my job (most of the people I am coaching are fortunate to have a job still), when will I see my family again, or, will I be able to go on the holiday I have booked?.
Focusing on what we can’t control is one way of pouring our energy and focus into something that will give us nothing back. And yet most of us do it, we often do it without realising - I know I’m guilty of it!
Below is an image to describe the zones of control, influence and concern, you may have seen a similar diagram before (it is used in many different training programs).
This diagram gives some examples of those things that are within our control such as how you are social distancing, with example of the things that you may have some influence over, such as how your family are social distancing and lastly the things you have no control over, the zone of concern, such as how well Joe Bloggs in the street is social distancing.
You’ve probably seen a meme of some kind that shows what many of our responses probably are when someone passes us in the street without social distancing! (usually muttering profanities under our breath!). How many of us let our energy be zapped into this? Of course if we do, then we are likely to be annoyed or frustrated at said person after they have gone past, then allow it to ruin the rest of our evening even, by being in a bad mood.
Or you could, have a mutter if you need to (I usually do!), and then focus your attention back on what you can control - what you’re going to eat for dinner when you get home for example, or how you are going to enjoy your evening. The second option of course is much more likely to have a positive effect on your evening.
How about your working day? If you spend your working day focusing your attention on those things you can’t control or influence, for example listening to the news, getting annoyed about the fact that you are having to hold department meetings or training over zoom or skype rather than in person, or even the fact that you’re missing your friends and family, then you are likely to feel pretty bad most of the day. Whereas if you focus the things you can control such as listening to your favourite music, or things you may be able to influence, for example thinking of new ways you could suggest or do to make the training go well. Another thing you may be able to control is how you can connect with your family or friends. Again if you focus on these things you are likely to experience higher levels of good emotions.
Of course, I’m not suggesting we don’t think about the things that are making us sad, like missing our friends or family, but I am suggesting that when you start to think about it, try to focus on the things about it, that you can control or influence, for example when you will next call them, or how you can make the most of the next video call with them.
Some of this may sound obvious, and once you can see it, maybe it is, but it’s also a trap many of us fall into. The best thing we can do for ourselves isn’t to give ourselves a hard time for doing it, but to catch ourselves and then to refocus. To refocus on the things that are within our control.
If you think you could do with refocusing your time and energy, take a piece of paper and a pen and draw out your own version of the 3 circles and ask yourself, what can I do about this situation that I can either control or influence? Then set about doing these things, the things that will have an impact and could lead to you feeling so much better!