Awareness of What is in Your Control

Be aware of your thoughts and words.
Be aware of adversity and its purpose. 
Be aware of what is in your control and what is not. 
Be aware of your emotional response.
Be aware that our mind gravitates toward the negatives.
Be aware of the practice needed to achieve what you want.

This week, as I continue to delve into six awarenesses needed in our lives, I will examine being aware of adversity and its purpose. A few weeks ago, I shared the following about being aware of what is in your control and what is not:

Be aware of what is in your control and what is not. Things that are in our control are all we can impact. And, honestly, all we can control is our actions. Part of awareness is being able to focus on the right things and leave the rest alone. Being aware of what is in your control is about giving your personal best and attention to the things right in front of you.

Keeping focus on what is in our control and leaving uncontrollables alone is one of the most important mindsets we can bring to our lives. Happiness comes when our expectations meet our reality. When we focus on what we cannot control, our expectations often fail to meet our reality because our focus is on things that are out of our hands.

Still, this post is not just about focusing on the controllables. I have been writing about awareness of what is in our control. I recently heard that a good indication of your focus on things you cannot control comes through complaining. Usually, when we complain about something, it is typically a thing that we cannot control. Since we cannot control it, we complain about it. This issue with this is that the complaining keeps our focus on that item, and we can never move on. 

This idea reminds me of the Stockdale Paradox. In a discussion with Collins for his book, Stockdale speaks about how optimists fared in camp. The dialogue goes:

Who didn’t make it out?

“Oh, that’s easy,” he said. “The optimists.”

The optimists? I don’t understand, I said, now completely confused, given what he’d said a hundred meters earlier.

The optimists. Oh, they were the ones who said, ‘We’re going to be out by Christmas.’ And Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. Then they’d say, ‘We’re going to be out by Easter.’ And Easter would come, and Easter would go. And then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again. And they died of a broken heart.

Another long pause, and more walking. Then he turned to me and said, “This is a very important lesson. You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”

The Stockdale Paradox can help us assess a situation and plan accordingly to tackle the challenges we might encounter. It enforces both the idea that we can be positive and believe we will overcome all difficulties while at the same time confronting the most brutal facts of a current situation. Keeping our focus on what is in our control takes a balance of optimism and realism.

Complain less, face the brutal facts of your current situation, focus on what you can control, believe you will overcome challenges, and use that to keep yourself moving forward. If you do these things, your expectations will better align with your reality, and you will notice a difference in your daily attitude.

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