Focusing on the Controllable

Your alarm is dutifully set to go off at 6:00 AM, yet your eyes open at 5:30 AM. Do you get up? Or do you lie there until it rings? Your bladder forces you to get out of bed. But now what? Do you go back to the warmth of your bed or start your day? Back in the darkness of your bedroom, do you drift back to sleep, lie awake ruminating or grab your phone off the nightstand and start mindlessly scrolling? The alarm rings. Do you push snooze or get ready for the day? How many times do you push snooze? If you are anything like me, it’s probably more than once.

Lately, this has been my life. Even when I set an intention the night before to get up early and start my day on a positive beat, I slip back to mindlessness. I let my negative thoughts go unchecked as they swirl around in my head and then settle on the thought, “what’s the point?” I grab my phone, the crutch I use to block out the noise in my head, to come face to face with the chaos and noise of the outside world. I tell myself, I’m just going to check social media to check in on what my family and friends are doing and avoid news. However, in between cute pet pics and family photos are politics and news posts. I find myself clicking on a headline and before I know it I’m sucked into the vortex of the news cycle. Gone are my good intentions of starting my day off with deep breathing, meditation, exercise and journaling. Four actions I know will make me feel better, but yet I don’t do them. I rush to get ready for work and tell myself I’ll try again tomorrow.

Earlier this week I had a coaching session with Diana Patton. We talked about how weighed down I felt these days with everything that is going on in the world. Emotionally I cycle through feelings of sadness, anger, anxiety and numbness about what’s happening in the world around me. The social injustices in our country have always existed. They aren’t new, but with smart phones, social media and a 24-hour news cycle they are finally front and center and can’t be ignored. What I naively thought was history, I now know for fact is not. My optimism that good change is happening in our country fades when I hear that no charges are being brought against the men that murdered Breona Taylor. With every Trump sign I see, the words “white supremacist” scream through my head. In my town there is seemingly a Trump sign on every corner. How is it possible so many people support a man that thrives on stirring up hate? What will I do if he’s re-elected? What can I do about any of it? I feel helpless. My voice feels small.

Thankfully, Diana reminded me to focus on what I can personally control. I’m reminded of the days when anxiety consumed me and my therapist had my focus on the little things I controlled like what shampoo I used and what color socks I wore for the day. This makes me smile. Together we identified these areas:

  • My reaction to things.
  • My thoughts.
  • How much social media I consume.
  • Who I let into my inner circle and who I do not.
  • How I position my voice into the world (via my blogs).
  • Who I give my time to.
  • Who I support (petitions, groups, and advocacy efforts).

Simply identifying and writing them down, I began to feel better. She reminded me to take space for myself to recharge and then move forward and repeat. A nudge in the right direction helped me refocus and recharge. This morning when I woke up before my alarm, I made my way to the quiet of my living room, lit a candle and took some deep breaths. I am in control of whether I get up and live or go back to bed. I know there will be times I’ll choose the former, but that’s OK. Today, I chose the latter and I feel good. I’m undaunted.

Do you get up before your alarm or do you snooze, snooze, snooze? I challenge you to write down what you can control. I’d love to hear what they are!

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