It is no big secret that this year many of us have lost a lot of control over things that were once in our control. Life is not always perfect. Really – it's never perfect. We try our best, yet sometimes life throws things at us that might not be our fault, but we are responsible for it.
And when this happens, you might feel like you're on a rollercoaster of emotions that doesn't look like you're going to be getting off anytime soon. When areas of our life feel like they are starting to slip out of our control, most of us begin to try and hold on tighter. This lack of control often leads to feelings of panic, worry, and fear, ultimately circling back to the panic: how CAN I be more in control?
Let's be real, a lot of times life doesn't go our way – but at the end of the day, it is ultimately OUR responsibility to decide how we are going to interpret the events that happen to us. It is our responsibility to make ourselves feel better. With these three skills, I challenge you to look inward. I challenge you to look at the areas of your life that you can apply these skills too, to reduce suffering and increase happiness ultimately. I mean, who doesn't want that, right? And with that, let's learn about these three skills!
3 Ways to Feel More In Control When Life Gets Hard
The following three skills are Dialectical Behavioral Therapy skills created by Marsha Linehan to reduce suffering and increase happiness ultimately. These skills get you through whatever situation you are in without making it worse, stop feeling stuck and become free of your need to control. If one thing is for sure, that is that change is inevitable, and whatever you are going through will pass. Things will turn around, and life will get better again. But until then, here's how you feel better about what is going on now.
01. Turning the mind (choosing to let go)
When your life is cray, it is common to feel frazzled, stressed, and emotional AF. Turning the mind is the first step into feeling a sense of peace. This concept is actively choosing to accept what is going on in your life right now. To do this, you must observe where you are rejecting what is going on in your life right now. You must look within and decide that you are going to accept what is going on in your life. Rinse, and Repeat every time something comes up in your life. And develop a plan for when you feel yourself drifting into rejection in the future. Turning the mind is not necessarily going to bring you to full acceptance, but it is going to put you on the right path and allow you to get into the appropriate mindset to accept.
If you are struggling to accept something in your life right now, turning your mind is a high starting point. Remind yourself that turning your mind does not necessarily mean you fully agree, but it means you are not rejecting, and that will bring you peace in itself.
You know when something in your life is not going your way – maybe you just lost your job, you are going through a divorce, you recently gained 20 pounds, etc.? Write it out! Write down what would happen if you continued to reject this and what would happen if you decided to accept this. It is incredible how this little activity will allow you to be open to turning your mind towards acceptance. And, well, once you have decided to accept, you can start looking at where you are willing to make necessary changes in your life to better the situation.
02. Willingness (be willing to let go)
Hear me well: you must be honest with yourself about where you are refusing to tolerate what is happening in your life, refusing to make the changes that are needed, giving up on what you need to do, trying to fix situations that are not yours to fix, insisting that you be in control, and where you are attached to what you want right now. You need to be real with yourself. LIKE REALLY REAL. I promise this is where the magic happens, friend. Pause, reflect, observe, notice, wonder.
- Observe where you are willful
- Notice how willfulness is affecting your life
- Reflect on how things would be different if you were willing to tolerate the moment
- Wonder where this willfulness is coming from
- Decide whether you are going to continue to suffer, or if you are going to move forward
Even though this is tough at first, once you start to notice where you tend to be willful and what it feels like when you are stubborn, you will have an easier time embracing willingness instead. Willingness will allow you to stop pushing back at life and fully participate in it. And isn't that what we all want, to feel like we're fully living life?
03. Radical Acceptance (accept you must let go)
The mecca of all skills, the most straightforward yet most difficult, is radical acceptance. Once you have turned your mind towards acceptance and have become willing to accept – the question I often get is, now what? Now, you accept. This acceptance does not mean you approve, and it does not mean you like it. You are letting go of all resentment and bitterness, and all the way completely accept the moment.
- Notice you are questioning reality (ie, noticing thoughts like “It shouldn't have happened like this”)
- Remind yourself that this is what happened, even if you don't like it
- Acknowledge there is always a history that leads to this reality without focusing on the why
- Make of list of what you would do if you accepted this situation, then start engaging in those behaviors.
- Start to think about how your life could change for the better if you let go and accepted the situation.
- Allow yourself to feel any emotions this situation has brought up to process them.
- Reach out to others if you are struggling to accept, hearing another perspective always helps
- If you try everything and the resistance is still there – make a pro and con list to accepting, rip up the cons side, and tape the pro side to your bathroom mirror.
Remind yourself radical acceptance is not approval, compassion, love, passivity, or saying you are against change. It is I wouldn't say I like this, I might not agree, but I accept it. And BELIEVE THAT.
With some introspection and beginning to let go, you'll start feeling less stuck, less miserable, and ultimately freer. This change is not something that will automatically happen overnight, but the more you practice, and the more you allow yourself to let go, you will allow yourself to flourish into the calmest version of you. You got this, girl!