Let’s face it—while the level and intensity may vary, we all desire to have control over our lives. I am not talking about an extreme control-freak personality disorder that is threatening or toxic. Rather a general desire to be able to make our own choices and exercise personal autonomy. A few minutes around an infant will affirm that we are born with an innate need to have our own way.
Recent global events have hampered our ability to exercise control of myriad decisions, both routine and major. Our powerlessness over these happenings has forced us to cope with diminished choices and requisite restrictions on behaviors. Understandably, these imposed limitations diminish our perception of control in our lives.
Even in times when we feel things are out of our control, there are things we can dictate. First and foremost is attitude. Maya Angelou said, “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” Your mindset will have the biggest impact on your well-being. You are the only one who determines what that will be at any given moment. Choose wisely and positively.
Second, you always have the option to follow the Golden Rule.
The way you treat others, particularly during stress, can be one of your most important daily decisions. Along with the Golden Rule, choice of language and tone remain selections within your purview.
Taking care of yourself by drinking more water than wine, choosing not to watch the news 24/7, being active to the extent you can be, and other self-care methods are healthy tactics to assert personal autonomy.
Though it is a broad generalization and big assumption, I suspect that surfers are psychologically well equipped to manage uncertainty and the negative feelings associated with being out of control. Why? Surfers choose to bob about in an unpredictable ocean over which they have no control—and wait. The wait is inconsistent, never knowing when the next wave will come.
While they have no control over the ocean, surfers are keenly aware of their surroundings and what is going on with the current and tide. Everything around them is changing all the time, yet surfers find peace and comfort in the water.
Then, when the right wave comes along, they catch it and ride it out. Exhilaration, joy, and a rush of endorphins are prizes that accompany each wave. Once these rewards have been claimed, surfers paddle back to the deep water, in anticipation of the next ride.
So, when all else fails and you have no other option but to let go of control, take a lesson from surfers—keep afloat and ride it out.
I’m here if you need me. Until then, y’all behave.