GAINING CONTROL OF CHALLENGING LIFE CIRCUMSTANCES

 

Embracing Uncertainty

     The solution to fighting uncertainty is accepting uncertainty. By choosing to willingly tolerate not knowing how situations will turn out, you will expend less energy fighting unnecessary battles and getting caught up in cycles of unproductive anxiety.  Acceptance does not necessarily mean enjoying uncertainty. It just means acknowledging that there is a degree of the unknown in everything that we do in life.  It means letting go of the fight with reality.

     Embracing uncertainty is often not an easy task.  Rather, it is a developed skill.  The fear of the unknown is at the root of uncertainty.  Anxiety can multiply exponentially if you remain caught in the cycle of trying to escape uncertainty.  By embracing uncertainty, you will gradually be able to work through your past traumas, disappointments, and insecurities.  You will learn how to clarify your current thoughts and emotions and to transform uncertainty into a sense of certainty and empowerment.

     The following actions can help you to accept and learn from uncertainty.  First, analyze what underlying meaning uncertainty has for you.  For instance, you may automatically associate uncertainty with a negative outcome.  When you do this, take a step back from this thinking pattern and really determine whether there is any utility in this process.  Finally, remember that you have the ability to learn skills at any point in time for reframing uncertainty in your life, so that it feels less threatening.  Imagine what life would look like without uncertainty.  Envision a greater sense of personal control and freedom.

     Each human’s spiritual journey often requires stepping into the unknown while continuing to move forward and to embrace all emotions and thoughts which arise.  By not trying to avoid or hide from your insecurities and fears, you can begin to gain a sense of freedom from past traumas and other negative life experiences.  

Cognitive Reappraisal Actions

     Cognitive reappraisal is thought to be an effective strategy because it allows people to change the underlying appraisals that contribute to negative emotions.  Cognitive reappraisal involves recognizing your negative thought patterns and revising them with more realistic and focused thoughts.  Also, when you are feeling an especially strong negative emotion, such as anger, sadness, or anxiety, you can learn how to stop and to identify the thoughts which seem most responsible for fueling that emotion.


Mindfulness and Gratitude

     Mindfulness is a mode of awareness which involves the self-regulation of attention maintained on your immediate experience.  It also involves your receptivity and acceptance in monitoring your mental and emotional activity, rather than active efforts to reach a specific goal.  Mindfulness-based treatments are helpful for many psychological difficulties.  This new skill can contribute to valuable changes in daily stress management and can create improved overall mental health.

     Regarding gratitude, the main task is to make a conscious choice each day to acknowledge and to appreciate inspiring, loving, and fortunate moments.  In fact, appreciating just two pleasurable experiences each day can have a significant effect on optimism, happiness, and well-being.  By staying receptive to all life experiences, you take the stance of a proactive, focused learner, rather than a frightened victim. 

     Your gratitude is a source of empowerment when confronting any present or future difficult life situation.  Gratitude creates a humble and genuine sense of self-awareness, positivity toward your daily tasks, assertive communication within your relationships, a continual willingness to keep learning from any life experiences, and a sense of purpose as a guiding and grounding force.


Gaining Control is an Ongoing Process

     Gaining control of your present experiences and of those imbedded in your memory requires that you admit to yourself that you cannot realistically control many of life’s circumstances.  Humans are socialized from birth to conform to values and standards which do not involve emotions.  However, even when given the worst circumstances, it is both necessary and possible to go through the real emotions and to tap into the inner strength which exists in all humans.  Your sense of control may waver from day to day, but this is just part of your learning process.

     Your perception as a courageous and resilient person can be an ongoing tool for working through trauma, depression, anxiety, and emotionally painful circumstances with family members, romantic partners, and other significant people in your life.  You must be open to viewing any of life’s stressors as part of human existence and as a catalyst for change and growth, not as a fearful or debilitating experience.  You already DO possess the energy to control your thoughts and, thus, your emotions.  Yes, I am a firm believer in the infinite capacity of the human mind to control whatever circumstances arise along the life path.  Without control, you become prone to loss of hope and willpower.  Each human is born with the innate ability to adapt to and make sense of one’s circumstances, no matter how painful or challenging.  Life is too short to waste energy feeling victimized.

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