I was working with a client with anxiety recently who brought me a 2 page list of all the things that were troubling her. As we went through the list she was becoming more and more heavier with the worry and the stress of everything going on around her.
This simple exercise helped helps to make sense of what you can and can’t control and then begin to focus on what you can do rather than what you can’t do.
Write down all the things that are on your mind and concern you.
Draw a circle within a circle and on the inside circle write down all the things you can influence from your list.
Then you can begin to make a plan about what needs to happen next. Some things we can control and some we can’t. By focussing our mind on this it helps to engage the logical problem solving part of the brain. If there are things that still concern us but we can’t influence, you can still manage your response to these things. If you choose to focus on what you can’t control, it’s usually accompanied by a flood of negative emotions which disable our higher thinking processes.
Try it, my client found it one of the most useful starting points in our sessions together.
Change can be easier than you think
It reminded me of this – the serenity prayer:
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference