How To Stop Caring About Things You Can’t Control
Updated December 10, 2018
Reviewer Alicia Fiske, LMSW
It's been well observed that worrying about things you don't have any control over makes you feel stressed out and unhappy. You can greatly improve your happiness when you learn how to stop caring about things you can't control. The trouble is, that's not so easy. You naturally react to situations, even if you don't have direct control over how they turn out. But it's not impossible to change that habit and quit letting uncontrollable situations work you up. Take a look at these tips for recognizing when you can't control a situation and how you can let it go.
Recognizing things you can't control
There are certain situations you simply cannot change. This doesn't mean you should just give up on everything and drift along allowing anything to happen to you and your life. Believing you control nothing is just as unhelpful as believing you control everything. It takes an understanding of that balance to find a place of true happiness in your life. Here are some of the things you cannot control:
- What other people think. The only thoughts you can every really know are your own. As for other people, you can only know what they communicate to you. And if they are communicating thoughts you don't care for, guess what? There is nothing you can do about that. You can try to convince them with your points, but you cannot simply change their mind because you want to.
- The past. You have some measure of control over your own future, even though you don't control everything. But the past, that is something you have no control over. It is done. If you've made mistakes or have regrets, as is the case for all of us, the only thing you can do is make decisions about how they affect your present and your future.
- What if scenarios. Your future is in part determined by your actions. But it is also determined in part by the actions of others, which you can't know ahead of time, let alone control. Instead of focusing on what everyone else will think or do, focus on what you think and what you are going to do. Taking the focus off the uncontrollable variables (other people) and putting on a more controllable variable (yourself and your decisions) will greatly reduce your anxiety.
How to stop caring
You have a few strategies for learning to stop caring about so many things you can't control and reducing your stress. One thing you can try is accepting that life is uncertain and recognizing that some unexpected surprises are actually positive. In truth, you're just as likely to be surprised by a positive outcome as a negative one. You just have to learn to recognize the positive when it happens instead of focusing on the negative all the time. Accepting a situation does not mean that you have to like it, rather it means that you stop fighting it. And that release you from the suffering.
Mindfulness and meditation are other strategies that will help. Rather than projecting reactions, practice staying in the present moment. When your mind is on the present, you aren't worrying about the what if's. Stress is harmful to your mental and physical health. If you need assistance following these strategies and reducing your stress, contact a mental health professional trained in handling stress.
It's also important to recognize the difference between a reaction and a response. A reaction is impulsive and usually driven by emotion. A response though is thought out, and taking a step back can help release you from the emotions of a situation -which tend to tie a person to a hurtful situation that they cannot control.