CIRCLE OF INFLUENCE VS. CIRCLE OF CONTROL
(aka DEALING WITH ANXIETY ABOUT THE FUTURE)
Here’s an interesting scenario, I’m supposed to meet my mom for dinner in a couple of hours and I’m stressing because I have some things I need to get done first, I’m not sure if I have time for it all and I don’t want to cancel, however, I also don’t want to go to dinner and be fidgety and on edge the whole time because I know I just have to come home to more work.
Well that’s a shitty mindset about a not so shitty situation but I think it’s something a lot of us deal with.
Anxiety around future events is a real thing for me, and the worst is anxiety around future events that haven’t even happened yet (and might never happen).
What if this business really takes off and I don’t have the right people to help me?
What if my something screws up and I let my clients down?
What if I never hit my goal of becoming a divemaster?
What if I never achieve my version of success?
What the fuck? Why do we allow ourselves to go through this!?
There’s a fantastic book called ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving A Fuck’ by Mark Manson that talks about this so eloquently and addresses it as the negative feedback loop from hell. It just keeps going and going. Get the book by the way, it’s fantastic.
As much as future anxiety is a real thing (and oh my god, it can be), I’ve found there’s a few little tricks that can help massively improve your quality of life and limit future anxiety enough to make it…not so intense.
I get it, you’re freaking out and YOU DON’T HAVE TIME! Well, think of it as a shortcut to accessing a higher level of thinking. I’m sure I don’t need to preach to you about the benefits of exercise, you get it, it releases endorphins, increases lean muscle mass, boots metabolism, all the good stuff. The thing I’ve found that has been insanely beneficial with exercise in my life is incorporating learning into it. I’ll find some great podcasts & put those on while I work out and get great insights from people way smarter than me.
The thing I love about exercise too is I feel like I have new brain afterwards. It allows me to chill out and switch from ‘I need to this and this and this’ mode to a calm, centered and more focused version of myself. Despite the byproduct that it makes you look great naked, there is also a massive benefit to your ability to focus & boots productivity.
Write Shit Down
This is huge. When things are in your head it can be so overwhelming and create anxiety.
When you write them down, do it with the intention that you are taking things from your head, putting them on paper to get them out of your head and you can come back to them at any time because they’re now on paper.
Journaling in general can be an extremely powerful exercise, but you want to journal in a way that is authentic. A lot of the time when journaling, it can quickly turn into a ‘make small talk with the page’ session. Your emotions don’t make sense and THAT’S OK!
They’re allowed to be erratic and irrational. Journal from the place of your anger, frustration, hurt or anxiety. Let that emotion speak authentically on the page and allow it pass through you. You’ll be amazed at the release you gain from this exercise and it will be a useful tool anytime you’re feeling overwhelmed.
Eat Something That Will Balance You Out
Anyone who follows my Instagram knows that I’m in LOVE with Kelly Leveque and her science backed approach to nutrition that also takes into account our emotional relationship with food & living a balanced life.
I highly recommend her stuff for any type of nutrition advice as she really knows her shit, but in terms of an easy fix to balance you out when you’re feeling overwhelmed, have something with protein, fat, fibre & greens.
This could be:
A smoothie with protein powder, half an avocado and 2 tbsp chia seeds. Hell, add in half a banana or some blueberries in there if you want a boost of feel good carbs/glucose.
Sometimes irritability and overwhelm can be caused by your blood sugar being out of balance, another reason why getting your health on point is absolutely critical to maintaining productivity and allowing for an overall more effective day-to-day.
Talk To Someone
This is my GO TO when my head is really going in circles.
I’m so lucky to have some amazing friends (you know who you are) that despite having their own lives & careers will pick up the phone and tell me everything is going to be okay. Talking out the situation to someone who’s not involved is not only therapeutic, it’s also going to give valuable insight. When you’re stressed out and in something too deep, it can be hard to see the forest through the trees. Sometimes some outside perspective is what we need, and it can also help to hear that yuou’re not the only one.
That fear of division (nobody understands me or my problem so why bother) is shitty because it’s just not true. People have been there, and most people love being able to help someone in need.
I don’t know if you can relate, but generally when I’m upset or freaking out about something I tend to naturally internalize it as opposed to reaching out for help.
Here’s the funny part – every time someone reaches out to ME for help, I love it. I love being able to hear the problem and help them come to a solution that feels better for them at the time. This made me realise that by internalizing things myself and not reaching out, I’m taking away that opportunity for someone else to have that experience of being there for me.
It’s scary admitting that you’re scared, sad or overwhelmed and there’s usually some emotions that follow that can also be scary, but it’s part of being human.
Now - The Secret Weapon – Circle of Control vs. Circle of Influence
This is the ultimate overwhelm killer.
Circle of Control vs. Circle of Influence usually looks like so:
When you’re making your list of everything that’s stressing you out, how much of it is inside your actual control?
For example, you can’t control what the market is going to do, your boss’ mood swings or your significant other’s schedule.
What you CAN control is how you react to those situations. Make it your sole focus to align with the things you can control and capitalize on them, while accepting the things you can’t and letting them be. This one exercise is crazy powerful to help you see where you can move forward and that although things seem like they’re chaotic, you do have a guiding light you can move towards.
What I suggest you do is grab a piece of paper or your journal and draw one big circle, and then draw a smaller circle inside of that one. Label the outside circle ‘Circle of Influence’ and write down everything that’s influencing your mood inside of that circle.
This could be things like ‘my wife’s mood, my husband’s schedule, my mom’s comment, the weather, the changes with Instagram, my CFO making a mistake, the market changes today, etc.’
Now label the smaller circle ‘Circle of Control’. What can you ACTUALLY control amongst all these things that are influencing you?
Well, you definitely can’t control the weather but you can control your attitude. You choose if you’re going to be bummed out because it rained or make the best of it.
You can’t control the market but you can control how you handle it next time, maybe listening to a Podcast on how to spot market trends on your way to work could help you feel more confident moving forward.
You DEFINITELY can’t control your Mom but you can control how you choose to show up in that relationship. You’re the one who decides to shift into a bad mood when she brings in negative energy, and it’s like we forget that our attitude is OUR RESPONSIBILITY! Make a decision to try and see the best in her even when she’s being difficult (lord knows she’s done the same for you once or twice!).
When you start to see the things you can control and shift into focusing on those, it brings you 2 key things;
Personal Power and Momentum.
Personal power because you now have a few things you can achieve very, very easily. All it requires is a swift mindset shift or a few easy actions. Momentum starts because you now know what you can do to deal with the current situation and even taking one small step can create a ton of results. Momentum is kind of like getting a train started. It’s hard to get going, but once that train is going it’ll plow through a brick wall. Even though it’s hard to start keep going! The momentum will carry you through much larger obstacles with a clear head.
If you have any other tips or tricks don’t be shy! Head over to my Instagram and spill.