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Letting Go of the things I Cannot Change ~ Peace is the result of training your mind to process life as it is, rather

than as you think it should be ~ Wayne Dyer

When we stop wasting our energy on things that are beyond our control, we can start focusing our energy on things that we can change. Letting go of things that are beyond your control will result in a feeling of peace. Focusing on the things within your control will feel empowering. What does it mean to let go of the things I cannot change? ~ It means recognizing what is and is not your responsibility. You cannot take responsibility for other peoples response to you, the outcome of situations, or other peoples behaviour or decisions. It is not your responsibility to fix all problems or situations. It is your responsibility to do the best you can with what is within your realm of control. ~It means letting go of the idea that everything needs to be perfect. Not everything goes smoothly; there are events that occur that we have no power over. Everything does not have to be perfect in order for us to be okay. ~ Letting go of the idea that you always need to be in control. Allow yourself to recognize when you need the assistance of others; this may include mentally, emotionally, or physically. ~ Letting go of the idea that it is scary to not be in control. This involves trusting that things will be okay if you learn to relax. ~ It means trusting in God, a Higher Power, or a greater order or purpose in life. ~It means being honest with yourself about what you can and cannot do. For instance, what is your responsibility to correct, change, or control? What is beyond your responsibility, power, or authority? ~It means admitting when there are aspects of your life that you are having difficulty changing. This also involves accepting that it is okay to ask for help. Trying to change things that are beyond your control results in Frustration Feelings of helplessness A belief that there is a right and wrong way to approach things (i.e., believing that you know what is best) Appearing as bossy and controlling Pushing friends and family away

A martyr mentality wherein you feel it is up to you to fix other people and situations. This results in resentment. Not seeking the help you need Not taking care of yourself Carrying around feelings of anger Low self-esteem Anxiety Depression Physical and emotional exhaustion. A feeling that you are never at rest because issues that are beyond your control are using up your energy. Losing people and things that are important to you because your focus is in the wrong direction.

Q1: Do you find it difficult to determine what you can and cannot change or control? Can you relate to any of the above feelings, thoughts, and events that can occur through trying to change things outside of your responsibility or control? I have the Power to Change my Actions My response to other people and events How I choose to act in the present moment, and how I will behave in the future How I spend my time Who I choose to spend my time with How I use my gifts and apply my strengths The goals I choose to set My focus, commitment, and motivation My morals and how I apply them in work and relationships The way I choose to look after myself. Do I eat healthy? Am I physically fit? Do I have a good balance between socializing and alone time? Between work and play? Do I meditate? The decisions that I make The career that I choose Whether I take responsibility for my actions or blame other people How I respond to other people. Do I rebel? Do I please them? Am I passive? Aggressive? Assertive? How I use my power. Do I abuse it? Do I recognize the power that I hold? Whether I do my very best in every situation, or not To choose to forgive or not forgive

I have the Power to Change the way I Communicate What I choose to say, and how I choose to say it How genuine I am in what I say to others My facial expressions and body language How I choose to greet others How I choose to express myself through clothing and hair styles The type of attitude I have. Am I sarcastic? Positive? Negative? Skeptical? Encouraging? What I choose to share with others and what I choose to keep private Whether I choose to write in a journal, and what I choose to write about The topics I choose to discuss, and the ones I choose to avoid Whether I tell the truth, or lie and manipulate people Whether I show respect through my words or choose to disrespect other people Whether I choose to verbalize my concerns or say nothing Whether I use words that are empowering or disempowering Whether I interrupt someone or listen to them

I have the Power to Change what I Know What I choose to learn from studying, doing my own personal research, talking to others, or taking courses Whether I choose to be open-minded or close-minded I can turn my weaknesses into strengths through goal setting, focus, and determination I can question other people, and ask questions if I dont understand something I can choose the source of my information (i.e., who I listen too, what I listen too) I can learn more about myself

I have the Power to Change how I Think I can examine my values I can examine my beliefs I can examine my goals I can challenge my stereotypes I can examine my religious beliefs I can challenge my assumptions I can alter my perspective (i.e., try to see things from different points of view) I can change my list of priorities I can do things that affect my mood I can work on understanding other people better I can expand my imagination and level of creativity I can change how I view my friends and who I view as friends I can change my level of emotional awareness

Q2: Does it feel empowering to recognize all of the things that you are able to change? Or is it overwhelming? Is it surprising? What are the things that are listed above that you have difficulty changing? Or have been led to believe you cannot control? What are the things I cannot change? There are so many things that are within our realm of control, and that we have the power to change. There are also things that are beyond our responsibility to change and outside of our ability to control. Learning to recognize what these things are, and working on letting them go, or handing them over to a Higher Power, will provide a feeling of peace. How other people respond to my actions The outcome of events (focus on the process not the outcome) The behaviour of others The past (I cannot change past events BUT I can change how I now view the past situation) The weather The health or wellbeing of those around me The beliefs, thoughts, and opinions of other people Who I am related too If an accident will happen What I do not acknowledge If other people will listen to my advice

Types of Thinking that make it Difficult to Let Go of things you Cannot Change ~ I must have control over everything in my life. Everyone runs into difficult situations. Trying to solve every problem on your own can be overwhelming and unnecessary. ~ It is up to me to fix the problems of the world. You place a lot of pressure on yourself by believing you need to fix the problems of everyone around you. Since this is impossible you end up feeling exhausted, confused, and angry. ~ People must behave a certain way in order for me to feel okay. Making other people responsible for the way you feel is very disempowering. You must decide that you are the only one who controls your attitude, and know that you can feel good regardless of the behavior of the people around you. ~ Situations must go a certain way in order for me to be okay. You cannot change how events play out, but you can change your response to them. By controlling your attitude you will come to realize you dont need to control the environment.

~ It is a sign of weakness to not always be in control. No one expects you to be perfect. You put a lot of pressure on yourself when you always need to appear to be in control. It is okay to have a bad day, or to go through a challenging time. When you admit this to yourself you can access the help and support you need. ~ Letting go is dangerous. Trust that things can run smoothly without you constantly needing to intervene. The earth continues to spin around the sun without your intervention; your heart keeps beating, and your lungs keep breathing. Trust that there is a Higher Power in play, or a greater order at work. ~ Admitting that you are having difficulties is a sign of weakness. Everyone needs help in life; we cant do it all on our own. ~ There is something wrong with me if I cannot control my addictions, obsessions, and compulsions on my own. We may find ourselves in a situation where our addictions, obsessions, and compulsions are controlling us. It takes a lot of insight to recognize when this is happening, and courage to ask for help. ~ Ignore your problems and they will go away. Problems only go away when you acknowledge that they exist, and then work to change them. It is true that you dont want to become overly focused on the problem, but denying that it exists doesnt make it go away, it just makes you unaware of how it is holding you back. Recognize when there is a part of your life you wish to change, and then focus your energy on finding the solution. ~ You should be able to handle lifes challenges on your own. Many people grow up hearing, you have to look out for yourself, no one else will or look out for number one. This can make us feel alone in the world. It can also make us feel like we have to have all of the answers to lifes problems. Or result in the belief that people are not nice and cant be trusted. It is much more helpful to believe that you are not alone in the world, but that there is lots of help and support available if you reach out and ask. No one should be expected to go through life doing everything on their own. Q3: Can you relate to any of the above types of thinking? Do you agree that these types of thinking patterns can make it difficult to let go of the things we cannot change?

How Co-dependency relates to difficulties in Letting Go of things beyond your Control Co-dependency occurs when you rely on other people to make you happy. Those who exhibit codependent behaviour may try to manipulate people and situations in order for them to feel safe, happy, and secure. When this doesnt work you end up feeling frustrated, resentful, anxious and even depressed. These emotions then cause you to turn toward others to fill the feeling of emptiness, and youre stuck in a pattern of maladaptive behaviour.

If you recognize co-dependent tendencies within yourself, practice moving the focus away from other people and placing it on yourself. In order to break co-dependent behaviour it is important to be very clear about what you can and cannot change, what is within your realm of control and what is outside of your control; what is your responsibility, and what is not your responsibility. People who exhibit co-dependent behaviour have unhealthy boundaries. Boundaries Boundaries are an invisible line that separates you from other people. Unhealthy boundaries lead you to think you are responsible for the problems of others, and that others are responsible for your problems. You may become very reactive to what other people say and do, and take things very personally. You may find yourself taking the opinions of others to heart, and becoming defensive if you disagree with what someone says. Having healthy boundaries allows you to determine what is within your control and what is outside of your control. Healthy boundaries allow you to support other people without becoming overly involved in their problems to the point where you take them on as your own. Remember, you cannot control (nor is it your responsibility to try to control) what other people say and do, the decisions that they make, and how they respond to you. You cannot control every situation, or what the outcome of different events will be. You can control yourself; and that is enough. Q4: Do you think that you exhibit any co-dependent tendencies? Do you think that learning to clearly define what you can and cannot control or change will help alter co-dependent behaviour? Detachment ~ How it can Help you Let Go of the Unchangeable Detachment is a healthy mental attitude wherein you realize you can only control and change yourself. It enables you to allow others to feel the way they feel, think the way they think, and behave the way they behave, without feeling like you need to do something to fix, rescue, change, or control them. You allow people, places, and things, the freedom to be what they are. Detachment allows you to show empathy and support in a healthy way. In order to detach from other people and situations practice developing healthy internal and external boundaries. Take your power back by recognizing that you control how you respond to other people and events. Recognize that it is unhealthy to believe you can control or change another person who does not want to be helped. Hand over to God or a Higher Power the things that you cannot change.


Acceptance stops the feeling of resistance. When we are in a constant state of resisting what is, we disallow good things to come our way. When we accept things as they are, we begin to see clearly, and attain a feeling of peace. This does not mean we do not work to change the things within our control, it just means we alter our approach. We no longer push against, but work with, what is going on around us. When we come to fully appreciate and recognize the power of our thoughts, we will no longer have the need to change other people or situations that are beyond our control. If we can control our reactions, thoughts, and emotions, we have everything we need to feel empowered and at peace. ~ Do not let today be stolen by the unchangeable past or the indefinite future. Today is a new day! ~ Steve Maraboli

Kara Melendy, MA, Counselling psychology