Taking Control

image taking controlEventually, bad things happen. You’ll lose your job, get passed over for the promotion that you were counting on or botch that humongous deal that was going to change your life.


You will be miserable and think that life is over.


Yes, you will be incredibly disappointed and sad— that’s to be expected. However, your response to this life disappointment will greatly impact what comes next. Your resilience in the face of disaster will determine your success.


The bottom line is that your sense of control in each life event greatly influences the eventual outcome. Do you see life in a reactive mode? Do you feel like things happen to you? Or do you have a strong sense that you can control and manage life in a proactive manner? Do you live your life making things happen? This mind-set makes the difference in your ability to face adversity.


I have developed some questions that might help you take more control in your life and positively change your direction when bad things happen.


Ask Yourself:


  1. How does it serve me to stay where I am right now?


For example, say you just found out that your boss didn’t take responsibility for a mistake, but instead, blamed it on you. You are angry, hurt, devastated and disappointed. You are wondering why this happened to you and why you are so unlucky. However, how does it serve you to stay in these feelings right now? How will you benefit in any way? Sometimes when we’re hit with bad news, we can get stuck in the feelings, and those feelings can spur us on to make some really bad decisions.


  1. What can I control in this situation and what is beyond my control?


This is an important question to ask yourself because it gets you out of a victim mentality and into a more positive, proactive frame of mind. You can’t control what just happened, and you certainly can’t make the whole situation disappear. You have no choice but to accept that this has taken place. Now give some thought as to what you can control. You can control what plays out next in the storyline. You can control what action you decide to take next.


  1. How can I improve the current situation?


Now is the time to brainstorm. I want you to write down all the possible ideas that come to your mind. Don’t leave anything out just because it sounds crazy or not realistic to you. Be creative and write every type of ending you can think of for your storyline. Try not to judge or evaluate these ideas for now— just let your mind run wild and come up with scenarios.


For example, remember the previous situation with your boss? You can have a talk with your boss and calmly ask why. Or, you can confront him and demand answers. Or, you can immediately start looking for another job. There are many, many choices you can conjure up in your mind.


  1. Now evaluate these choices and number them in order of best ideas. Consider the outcomes for each idea. If you are proactively controlling the situation, you will have a number of action steps that you have created on your list.


  1. What have I learned from this experience?


Be sure to not skip this step! Is there something that you would like to do differently next time? There is always a lesson that you can glean from every situation. Do some soul searching and be honest.


Becoming truly resilient is a process. The more you practice, the more resilient you become in riding the waves of life.


Relationship Advice

Miles and I are pretty firm in our routine.  He knows that I always feed him dinner and take him for a walk around 4 or 5 o’clock. If I’m in the house starting around 2 o’clock, I can count on him to be glued to my side.  Every time I make a move, he’s right there.  If I’m working at my desk, he will sit beside me and stare. He’ll be watching for any sign of movement, signaling my possible descent downstairs to his food bowl.  Watching his behavior, you would think that I never feed him.


By about 4 o ‘clock, I can no longer stand the feeling of someone staring at me and I make my way to the kitchen.  I feed him and get his leash ready for the walk.  He scarfs down the food morsels within a 20 second span and then turns to me for the next act.


Today, I felt pretty lucky that I was able to walk him before the big downpour of rain.  The weather was just perfect— sunshine with a nice breeze to cool things down.  As usual, Miles walked fast and insisted on leaving his calling card on every single bush and tree within a 2-block radius.  When we turned around and began our walk back to the house, Miles sat down.  He sprawled out under a tree and decided he was done.  I didn’t notice this detail, so I continued to walk until the long, taut leash pulled me back.


I told Miles that he could take a little break but then we were going to go back home.  When I got close to him, he quickly turned over on his back to show me he was ready to get picked up.  I tried to “marionette” him to walk but that didn’t work.  Frustrated and angry, I finally gave up and picked him up.  Miles seemed quite content with my decision.


I listen daily to successful women that are unhappy with the relationships in their lives.  They want the people in their professional or personal lives to change and they ask my advice as how to make this happen. They have a proactive approach to life and are very problem/solution oriented. All of this is wonderful but they’re leaving out one very important detail.  You can’t make people change and you can’t convince people that they need to change.  In fact, the harder you try, the less effective you will be.


You can, however, change your own part in the scenario.  A relationship is dynamic and if you change your own behavior, then the other individual’s behavior will also have to adapt.  It might take time before you see the desired changes in the other individual, but it’s definitely an empowering and healthy way to handle the situation.


Now, back to Miles.  I was livid with Miles when he was lying under the tree and expected me to pick him up. I could swear he had a smile on his face. But who was really responsible for this travesty? What had I taught him to expect from me?  He had the routine down from the signs that I was getting ready to feed him until the moment that I gave in and picked him up.   I had trained him on this whole experience.


However, if I changed my behavior, he would also have to make some changes.  Maybe the first time, things wouldn’t go so smooth, but if I stayed the course on this new change, the Pug would eventually have no choice but to adapt.

It’s really not that different with humans.