If you are having a bad day, you can either respond or react. Counsellor Sarah Barr has this helpful guide on focusing on what we can control:
When things don’t go to plan, it is so easy to focus on the negative thought. We can start ruminating on all the things that aren’t going to plan and begin worrying about all the bad things that could happen next.
A thought fires before an emotion and then your brain connects. If you repeat that link enough times, it becomes a habit. That’s why when we think negatively, we feel the negative emotions.
If you are having a day, clouded by negative thoughts/emotions, try asking yourself these three questions:
1. What is worrying me?
2. What is within my control?
3. What matters most to me and what can I do about it?
When we focus on what we can control, our thoughts empower us and then trigger positive emotions. Within our control are our own opinions, attitudes, aspirations, dreams, desires, and goals. We control how we spend our time, how productive we are, and who we choose to spend time with.
Outside our control sits everything else: how life’s events unfolded, the weather, the economy and other people.
Trying to control or change what isn’t within your control will only drain your energy.
What you can control is how you perceive a situation, how you react to it, and how you respond.
Sometimes we can use up a lot of time and energy reacting to others and events happening around us. The problem is that these reactions might make others unhappy, make things worse for us or make the situation worse.
We can react without thinking. It’s a gut reaction, often based on fear and insecurities, and it’s not the most rational.
Responding, is a little harder to do, sometimes it’s about pausing and taking the situation in, thinking about it and then deciding the best course of action based on values such as reason, compassion, cooperation, etc and parking the often automatic emotional reaction, until you have decided how best to respond.