Control the Things You Can Control



Next time you find yourself ‘stuck’ and wondering what to do, here’s a piece of advice to remember:



Stop for a moment and repeat this mantra to yourself.  Then follow it!

Think about how often you assume you know what other people are thinking (She thinks I’m showing off; He thinks I eat too fast) so you respond based on that. Alert: you cannot read other people’s minds.

Sure, it sounds logical and so simple.  Yet often we are caught up in the details of a situation and decide that if only other people would do_ _ _ _ _ _ , it would solve everything. Another alert: Try as you might, you cannot make people change.

Save Yourself Frustration

It will save you a lot of frustration and headaches to simply remember to “Control the things you can control.”

Here is a situations I often hear:

I’ve gone on several interviews for a new job, and the interviewers don’t seem to really care about what they are doing. When I answer their questions, they seem to barely listen. I’m a good worker and well qualified. How can I make them pay more attention?

Here I try to make clients realize that to improve the situation, they have to work with what they really can do. I’ll ask them to really consider how they project themselves. Perhaps they should rethink their questions so they really interest the interviewer.  And, of course, remember to smile and act confident. These are within a person’s control.

Another situation:

My eight year-old daughter has a friend whose parents are really laid back. When my child goes to their house, the kids sometimes end up eating junk food and watching scary movies. When my daughter comes home, she can’t fall asleep and doesn’t feel that good. How can I tell those parents that they have to be aware of what the kids are doing?

Change the parents? That idea not only won’t work but also will probably cause a break between the kids. So I ask, “What can you really do?” That’s when ideas like:

      • “Make most play dates at our house;”
      • “Limit playtime with that child to a short right-after- school visit,” and even
      • “I could take the kids to a park or somewhere myself.”

Remote Control

Just thinking about controlling what you can control makes you choose solutions you know you can implement. It’s amazing what control you do have when you think about it. 


Photo credits: © Can Stock Photo Inc. / ra2studio, / bds, Celebelle

3 thoughts on “Control the Things You Can Control

  1. Lauren Karp says:

    Thank you for sharing this mantra…Control the things you can control. The concept and the examples are so useful. I will definitely use this to try to change my way of thinking about situations!


  2. Anonymous says:

    Thank you Loretta for this great mantra…Control the things you can control…the examples of how to turn thoughts around to things you can control is so helpful!


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