Control/Concern in Challenging Times

It might be tempting, in these uncertain times, to sink into a slough of despond, or to rage against things over which we have no control. Neither of these is a great outcome nor conducive to health and happiness!

So, how can we think in a way that gives us energy and increases our chances of directing that energy in a purposeful way?

This diagram is taken from a book that Jenny Bird and I wrote together (The Art of Coaching: A Handbook of Tips and Tools, illustrated by Josie Vallely). The ME stands for Maximised Energy. We find it in the place where our area of concern overlaps with the area over which we have control. Working there we are more likely to be positive, proactive and of benefit to both ourselves and others. 

In the current situation, our concerns may include: - our own safety; potential illness/death of family and friends; global political impact, with a possible move to isolationist outlooks; global economic impact; collapse of the UK economic system; impact on our ability to visit far flung relatives; curtailing of our options for leisure and pleasure.

We may spend hours reflecting on these possibilities, even though many of them are beyond our control as individuals. We could drain our energy completely and become paralysed by fear.

What is in our control right now is what we think and do. How we exercise, speak, travel, behave, use resources, diarise our time. What we eat and wear. What we say. How we relate to other people. How often we clean our teeth a day! How clean/tidy we keep our homes. These things may seem of little relevance to our big areas of concern. And, if we spend all our time focusing on rearranging the furniture, we run the risk of losing any connection with a bigger sense of meaning in our lives.

So, what could possibly fill that space of overlap, where what we can control also connects with what we are concerned about?

Back to thinking. We can all train our amazing minds to focus on ways of thinking that will impact positively on our feelings and will expand our range of choice about how we speak and act.

Here’s a few thoughts to experiment with:

  • This will pass, with time.
  • Many things can wait. They are not as pressing as I previously told myself they were.
  • There’s a lot to be grateful for and a lot of things to enjoy, come what may.
  • My responsibility is to keep myself healthy/sane and to do all I can to limit the spread of the disease within my area of control.
  • I can help others in little ways, meeting virtually, sending love, ordering gifts on-line.
  • I can stay professional, organising my time to fulfil my promises to others
  • I can experiment with fresh ways of doing things that might reap benefits in the long run

Sarah Gornall is a leading coach in the UK, co-author of "The Art of Coaching: a Handbook of Tips and Tools" and "How to With People ... and Enjoy It" 

Sarah Gornall Author and Coach

Maximised Energy when Control and Concern converge

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