It's often hard not to care about things you can't control-whether your partner will do well on a work presentation, what the weather will be like for our flight, and so on. The problem is that caring about things you can't control takes your time, zaps your energy, and keeps you from working on the things you can control. To reduce your stress and start leading a happier life, you need to let go and stop caring about those things you can't control. It might be easier said than done, but all you need are the right tools. We'll discuss these later in the article.
The first step is to recognize what you can and cannot control. From there you can start to take steps to stop caring about them.
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:
There are many strategies for learning to stop caring about so many things you can't control, and as a result, reduce your stress.
Of course, we can influence others. And one of our best opportunities to do so is to ensure that we are being who we want to be. Often, the characteristics that are the most frustrating and offensive to us, are those which we are guilty of ourselves. So it is always a good practice to turn our attention to ourselves as soon as we realize we are annoyed with someone else. Awareness is critical to making changes in ourselves. That about which we are unaware, we cannot control. Stated another way, that about which we are unaware of in ourselves, will control us. Sometimes, just gaining awareness of a tendency in ourselves is all we need to choose to think or act differently.
Change Your Perspective
Another helpful concept is that while it is impossible to simply change our feelings, we do have a much greater capacity to change our thoughts, perspectives, the meaning we attach to specific events, our conclusions, expectations, etc. It may be safe to conclude that much of the disappointment, hurt, offense, sadness, anger, etc. we experience is a result of unmet expectations. So if we can change our expectations, we will be able to dramatically decrease the negative feelings that result from experiencing unmet expectations, right?
Track Your Feelings
You may have heard it said that thoughts are rational and feelings are irrational. I understand why people say this, but I submit that it is the opposite. While there are some biochemical exceptions to this rule, the majority of the time, you must have 'cognition' (thought, interpretation, evaluation, perception, expectation, belief, etc.) before you experience any feeling. So while you, and certainly others, may not initially understand why you feel the way you do, if you track the feeling back to the cognition, the feeling will make total sense! However, the same cannot be said about the cognition that informed the feeling. Our thoughts, impressions, conclusions, etc. can be astoundingly inaccurate, illogical, or based upon incomplete or flat out wrong information. Thoughts inform feelings, which lead to actions. Therefore, there is a logical progression from what we are thinking, or telling ourselves, to how we feel, to the behavior we choose.
This is actually great news because while it is impossible to simply tell ourselves to not feel the way we feel, we can absolutely change the way we think and how we talk to ourselves. We have a far greater ability to dramatically impact our own internal reality than we usually realize. As we raise awareness of what we are telling ourselves, we should work to ensure that it is accurate, reasonable, rational, and optimistic. That process will automatically change how we feel, which then changes how we behave.
Accept That Life Is Uncertain
Another option, which is related to our ability to control how we interpret a given situation, is accepting that life is uncertain and recognizing that some 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. Accepting a situation does not mean that you have to like it, rather it means that you stop fighting it. And that releases you from the suffering.
Sometimes you'll run into a problem that's simply out of your control. It can be easy to think, "This isn't fair," or, "I shouldn't have this problem," even though those ways of thinking only make the pain worse. Radical acceptance refers to a healthier way of thinking during these situations. Instead of focusing on how you would like something to be different, you will recognize and accept the problem or situation as it is. Remember, accepting is not the same as liking or condoning something. Learning to accept the problems that are out of your control will lead to less anxiety, anger, and sadness when dealing with them.
Try Keeping a Worry Box
The 'Worry Box' strategy can be quite helpful in effectively addressing ruminating thoughts about something over which you have no control.
First, clarify whether you have control over the issue you are worrying about. For instance, you have an important assignment due for work tomorrow you have not completed, so are feeling anxious. It would not be appropriate or helpful to try to stop feeling anxious. Rather, you need to complete the assignment, right? So these sources of anxiety might be entered on a to-do list and completed.
But when you identify that you are worrying about something you have no control over, or should not take action on, then you have confirmed that your anxiety or worry is unproductive and unhealthy. For these types of worry, you might try an activity called the "worry box." These are the steps for this activity:
Regularly moving your body is not only good for your body, it also helps you improve your mood (thank you, endorphins) and your self-control. Taking a walk when feeling overwhelmed can help reset your mood, help give you a sense of control, and get you back on the right track.
Taking a break to focus and control your breathing can help you relax and instill a sense of peace in you. It can also help you remember there are things you can control and minimize your focus on the things you cannot.
Writing out your thoughts can help you process them and understand them better. As you are writing down your thoughts you may realize that the things you can't control are less important and that other things are worrying you that you can control and address.
Get Quality Sleep
Sleep is needed to keep us in a healthy mental state and to improve the way we experience life. Make sure you get at least 7-7.5 hours per night, and you'll feel more resilient and able to tackle the issues that come your way.
Being thankful for the things that are going well in your life can help you find more to be grateful for every day. Practicing gratitude regularly can help you feel more in control of your life and the things that you can't control will begin feeling less overwhelming.
No matter how much effort you put into not caring, sometimes we just need that extra bit of help from someone trained and experienced. This is where talking to a professional can be helpful. BetterHelp has licensed, certified counselors that have helped others with this same issue in the past. They will help you understand what it is you are feeling and help you discover why you are feeling this way. There’s been a lot of discussion about the veracity of online counseling, particularly with the advent of the COVID-19 outbreak. A recent publication considered the effectiveness of online counseling over the last two decades, reiterating that studies have found that for most psychological issues, virtual counseling is just as effective as face-to-face counseling. They also noted that many people feel safer and more comfortable in their own space and, when writing, may get to their issues in a more concise way.
The study pointed out some practical issues that may seem obvious as well: attending a session online takes out what might be a lengthy commute to an office and removes the potential stigma of someone finding out you’re going to said office. Plenty of people have already given BetterHelp a try for similar issues:
“Christine is a great listener and helps me keep things in per[s]pective. If I get overwhelmed, stressed, or feel out of control, she opens my eyes to the source and offers couping stratigies to deal with it. I enjoy our conversations and she helps me reme[m]ber to be grateful for the good in my life and in the world instead of me always focusing on the negatives and what ifs. She has been a God sent and I appreciate her guid[a]nce and support.”
“Irene has always been attentive, intuitive, and creative in her efforts to help me better understand my-self, and deal with both the trauma of the past and the future! I have enjoyed every moment we speak and she helps elucidate on the things I do not notice, and helped me to have better control of sinking feelings! Absolutely a life changing experience.”
As frustrating as it can be dealing with things that are out of your control, know that there is at least one thing within your control-the way you respond.
Other Commonly Asked Questions
How do I stop caring about things I can't control?
Is it normal to worry about things you can't control?
How do you stop thinking about things you cant change?
How do I train my brain to stop worrying?
Why do I feel like I need to control everything?
What is rumination anxiety?
Is overthinking a mental illness?
What is the 3 3 3 rule for anxiety?
Is there a pill for overthinking?
What personality disorder is a control freak?
When it comes to worries, one of the problems you should stop worrying about is something you can't control. The idea is to put your energy into something you can control, but for many, this is hard. Here are some ways you can stop worrying or caring.
They can help identify your fears concerning what you can’t control. For example, if you’re always predicting a catastrophic outcome, why do you do that? The people and circumstances you’ve faced can be one reason why you feel this way. Learning to spend less time with catastrophic predictions and endless rumination may require some therapy.
Here are some things you're unable to control.
It's hard to acknowledge that there are some aspects of your life that you have no control over. Here are some ways that you can accept it.
It's important that you focus on what you can control. Without getting too deep about freewill and whatnot, here are a few things that you're able to control.
Worrying about things, even what we can't control, is natural. It may come from an evolutionary leftover, where people were always worried about an enemy attacking or the weather making it hard to get water. Another reason is that we don’t like to feel powerless. We would like to believe you can change the world, change people’s minds, or even change the weather, but we can’t.
For example, you may believe that you can change someone's ways when they are set in what they believe. Even your family may not listen. For example, a parent can give their child advice, but it may be the child's choice in the end, especially if they're an adult.
In the end, when it comes to people's choices, share your opinion, but realize that the opinion might not matter much.
While there are some things you should worry about, worrying about everything, especially what you can't control, isn't good for you. Your brains likes to micromanage, refuse to delegate, and stay on thoughts for far too long. A little bit of worrying is good, but you usually let worrying take a minute of your life, and then soon it’s taking over. People’s worries keep them occupied in a self-destructive cycle that is hard to break. Here are some ways you can stop worrying.
The best way for you to let go of something you're unable to change is instead focus on what you can change. Look to you and the parts of your life you have control over. This can help you.
This quote, which is by an unknown source, goes as follow:
"When you can't control what's happening, challenge yourself to control how you respond to what's happening. That's where your power is."
Stress is natural and can be good for you in small doses. However, too much stress can have negative health effects. Here are some ways to stop stressing when it feels like a channel in your brain that won't turn off.
It can be hard to accept reality. Reality can be unpredictable and beyond your control. People who don't accept this truth become control freaks, which can make life worse. Here are some ways to accept reality.
Some people take everything personally, even if it isn't about them. Here are some ways that you can stop taking things so personally.
The only thing you can control is yourself, and even that's up for debate. However, if you say "I need to take control of my actions," and make a mindful effort toward taking that goal, then you're able to make some incredible changes in your life.
What you can control? Can we control our happiness? How do you clear your mind? How Do I Stop
Learning to stop wasting your time ruminating over thoughts you can't control is the first step. Using mindfulness to stop the worrying conversations in your head is a good first step. If you doubt your ability to solve a problem, find ways to improve it. With that said, how can you enjoy your life more? Here are a few ways.
Overthinking is not a disorder, but instead tends to be a part of anxiety disorder. People who overthink may pick through their worrying thoughts with a fine-toothed comb, using all they can to worry and over-analyze their thoughts. While critically thinking about your life is important, overthinking tends to involve making a mountain out of a molehill, and it's important to learn ways to stop worrying and overthinking if you want to have peace of mind.
The Bible has various quotes about worrying. For example, in Matthew 6:25-27, Jesus has an entire speech about avoiding worry. The message the Bible sends tends to be to stop worrying and instead let God be there for you. If you're a Christian, these words can be a source of comfort for you when you find yourself worrying.
In life, we like to have control over everything. We are the protagonists of our life, after all. Obviously, most people believe there are things you can’t control, such as the weather. You can’t stop a storm from coming, or change the time of the day. However, there are many things we think we can control when we can’t. For instance, you don’t have control over other people. Here are some things in life you can control.
There are some situations you can control, and some you can’t. Sometimes, you can’t stop bad things from happening. Other times, there are healthy boundaries and healthy mantras you can take to have some control over it. Let’s take a look.
There are so many things you can’t control in your life, from disasters to deadly diseases. While we want to believe we are strong people who can control everything, we need to remind you that there are some things in life you cannot control. Let’s look at them.
We know that mentally strong people don’t let things that are beyond their control bring them down, but it’s hard. It’s the busying thinking about what you can’t control that can ruin your life, yet so many people spend their time on it.
One reason is that we don’t like to feel powerless. We would like to believe you can change the world, change people’s minds, or even change the weather, but we can’t. If you say you hope it doesn’t rain, it still will despite your hopes. From natural disasters to deadly diseases, we can’t control life.
Another reason why is because we’re programmed to focus on the past. Even mentally strong people may spend their time thinking about their regrets and what they could have done differently.
Changing this mindset is complex, and you have to pay attention to your thoughts. Therapy can help.
Future predictions and endless rumination about the past are two examples of us caring about things we can’t control. Ideally, you’ll want to think about what you can control, but it’s difficult. Let’s help by listing a few ways you can change your way of thinking.
When someone tells you to stop worrying about things, it’s easier said than done. There are a lot of things in life to worry about, after all. Your brains likes to micromanage, refuse to delegate, and stay on thoughts for far too long. A little bit of worrying is good, but you usually let worrying take a minute of your life, and then soon it’s taking over. People’s worries keep them occupied in a self-destructive cycle that is hard to break.
Here’s how you can stop worrying so much.
The past is quite easy to think about for people, and you are not the only one who may be thinking about the past a little too much.
Many people spend their mental strength in the past because of nostalgia. They think about the good old days, when everything seemed better. This especially happens when someone is not in a good position like they used to be.
Another reason someone may think about the past is they regret something. When someone looks back at a regret or embarrassment, they may not be able to get it out of their head, despite the brutal truth in life being that the past cannot be changed. You may have conversations in your head about what you should have done differently. You may cope with disappointment you’ve faced in the past, or may cope with distress by thinking about what may have been, but you can’t change it. You
can only learn from it.
Trauma may be a reason why you’re always thinking about the past. In that case, you may need to seek help from a therapist or someone else who can help you.
The past can be our worst enemy. We grow as people and learn, and we regret what we’ve did in the past or what others have done to you. There’s a chance you’re stronger by miles compared to your past, yet you’re still focused on the past. Learning to change the channel of your thoughts and think about the present more is difficult, but it is possible. Here are some ways.
Overall, it’s important to acknowledge that your thoughts are in the past, but you need to find ways to return to the present.
There are many things in life we can’t change. For example, if a potentially good party got ruined due to the weather, you can’t change that. However, you may find yourself worrying about the next party.
Everyone thinks about what they can’t change, but there are times where it gets toxic. You may try to force other people to change and scare them away. You may handle the worst case scenario of something you can’t change by always thinking about it, while ignoring the better cases.
Here’s how you can gain enough control of your mind to stop worrying about what you can’t change.
Clearing your mind is sometimes needed when you’re having unhelpful thoughts in your head or imagining catastrophic outcomes. Not only that, clearing your mind is a great way to calm down and get some rest. Here are some ways that you can clear your mind with style.
Psychology Today has a good article for this. In the Psychology Today post, they list some proven ways to clear your mind. These include:
We say to check out that Psychology Today article and see it for yourself.
No matter how hard you try, you are going to have thoughts that enter your mind and seemingly refuse to leave. How can you let them come and go? It can take some time to combat self-doubt, catastrophic predictions, and other problematic thoughts when your brain seems to refuse to delegate tasks that are helpful and instead focuses on the bad. However, there are some ways.
It can be hard to take things so personally. When something does or says something, you may have a worst case scenario in your mind. This worst case scenario tends to involve you believing that everything they have said is the worst crime against you, and thinking about this worst-case scenario can hurt your mental health. Alternatively, the worst-case scenario can cause you to lash out on someone who may be innocent.
For example, someone you know makes a vague Facebook status about someone. They may say they hate people who are selfish, or they will describe another toxic trait that is a little vague, and you think this applies to you. When that happens, not only should you think about why you feel this way and if working on solutions can help, but you should not go off on the person.
In order to think about things less personally, find other hobbies or habits to spend your energy, because worrying about how people will perceive you can end up damaging your mind. Perhaps find ways to increase your confidence or use mindfulness to improve your thinking. Alternatively, you can find healthy stress relievers.
Worrying too much about what others think and taking it personally can be due to many things. You may doubt your ability and want validation from others, which ends up wasting time. It may have been due to something that happened in your past, such as friends who backstabbed you. In some cases, seeking help from support groups and therapists can help. Plenty of strong people need help, and changing your mental effort and your attitude towards taking things personally may be the answer.
In addition, eating healthy and exercising are always ways to help you stop wasting time worrying what others think.
Whether it’s your ex or someone you don’t want to think about anymore, they can invade your mind. It can feel like a finger trap, where the more you try to stop thinking about them, the more your mind will think about them. You may say, “I find myself thinking about this person, even when I can spend my time and energy doing so much more.”
It’s not easy to stop thinking about someone. Even strong people can end up trapped in these thoughts. Here are some ways you can stop putting so much mental time and energy into someone.
When you get off work, you should relax, unwind, and get some sleep. However, it can sometimes feel hard. You may have endless rumination about the workday, with you spending time worrying about tomorrow. And the thoughts aren’t helpful, either, with you ending up thinking about the same things over and over.
Here are some ways to train your brain to shut off.