I know the title of this post is misleading. Things are rightly called “uncontrollable” simply because they cannot be controlled. We all have things like this in our lives— the weather, health issues, the behavior of other people and aging to name a few. I often speak about controlling the things we can control and letting go of the things we can’t. That sounds like such good advice and so easy to do: Just let go of those things that you can’t control
However, I know it is not easy. Like you (I’m assuming) there are things in my life that I cannot control. Lupus might top that list. The health and well-being of family members and friends would come in a very close second. If you’ve read many of my blog posts or heard me speak, you know that I frequently say that we teach what we most need to learn. And boy, oh boy is this letting go of the things I can’t control one lesson that I am definitely remedial in!!! I have learned lots of things along the way, such as I am much better able to let go of things after a good night’s sleep. Yes, my resilience is directly tied to the number of restful hours I sleep each night. I also know that talking things out helps me. It often seems that the annoying little voice in my head that keeps replaying the recording of the things that are bothering me never seems to quiet down or sleep. I find it helpful to drown it out by repeating over and over to myself that those little vignettes of possible negative outcomes are not winning any Oscar awards and should be shelved permanently.
Yes, I’ve learned all these things over and over and over again. Yet, I still find myself getting overwhelmed at times when all around me seems to be spinning wildly out of control. I stand in the middle of the tornado looking for things to grab onto and control. It doesn’t work. It is much more helpful for me to spend my time doing and focusing on things that help me relax. Painting is one of these things, so is writing, coloring, watching good movies and sometimes going for a walk. Yet even a walk can be tricky, because the pesky little negative outcome recordings can slip in if my mind’s not occupied. Listening to an audio book often helps move those worrisome “what if” clips to the back burner.
Sometimes people assume that, because I speak professionally on these topics, I must always handle everything well. I need to set the record straight on this assumption. I too get angry, I too get overwhelmed and depressed, and I too often handle situations poorly. But, I do try my best to focus on the positives in my life, and I do my best to focus on the things that bring me joy, especially in times of high stress. And, sometimes, I just crawl under the covers with a good book and hope that tomorrow will be better. I am human after all!
About Cindy Coney: Ambassador of hope and author of The Wild Woman’s Guide to Living with Chronic Illness, Cindy Coney is a nationally acclaimed speaker, trainer, human resilience expert, and philanthropic force. Dedicated to helping both children and adults achieve optimal health and success, Cindy has taught thousands of people to move beyond coping with limitations to recapturing joy and fulfillment in their lives.
Diagnosed with lupus in 1980, Cindy has since driven a race car 124 miles per hour; completed the Chicago Marathon; championed countless nonprofit organizations; presented to the World Lupus Congress as a keynote speaker; and shared her inspiring, empowering story from Belize to Baltimore.
Follow Cindy’s Blog at www.cindyconey.com
PainPathways is the first, only and ultimate pain magazine. First published in spring 2008, PainPathways is the culmination of the vision of Richard L. Rauck, MD, to provide a shared resource for people living with and caring for others in pain. This quarterly resource not only provides in-depth information on current treatments, therapies and research studies but also connects people who live with pain, both personally and professionally.