We all have people, circumstances and events that affect and concern us. Let’s call that group of items our “circle of concern.”
Our personal circles of concern may overlap, but what concerns one person might not concern another.
For example, any kind of legislation affecting mental health professionals in Colorado and Oregon will fall within my circle of concern, but such minutiae won’t necessarily concern you.
You may be personally affected by the price of cement or the Euro/US dollar exchange rate, while I mostly ignore these.
No matter what they encompass, our circles of concern are pretty darn big. Everything from the state of our clothing (Am I missing a button? Does my shoe have a hole in the sole?) to tomorrow’s weather, to local and national politics, to meteors hurtling toward the earth, may concern us.
But how many of these things do we actually control?
Your Circle of Control
Within our circle of concern, there’s a much smaller subset of items that fall within, let’s call it our “circle of control.”
Inside that little circle, we control absolutely everything: What we eat, what we wear, when we go shopping, what we buy, what to we say to our neighbors, whether we lend out our belongings, how much TV we watch, whether we plan for retirement, what kind of exercise we get, and on and on.
Although our circle of control is much smaller than our circle of concern, there’s still plenty inside it.
Estrangement and Control
Being unwillingly estranged from your adult child(ren) can make you feel powerless, and your life seem out of control.
So when it comes to estrangement, it’s important to ask, What remains within your circle of control?
Here’s a reminder of some of the many things that are 100% up to you:
- Whether and when you reach out to your child
- What you say when you write, text, or talk to him or her
- Whether you send gifts on birthdays or holidays (Hint: It’s almost always better not to)
- How you celebrate special days without your child
- Whether you reach out to others for support and companionship
- Whom you tell, and don’t tell, about the estrangement
- How much you share when others ask about your child(ren)
Put It Into Practice
Your circle of concern can only produce stress. It can’t relieve it. Only what’s inside your circle of control can make you feel better.
Try to spend most of your mental energy inside your own circle of control. The next time you find your mind wandering to thoughts that upset you, ask yourself “What part of this scenario, if any, falls within my circle of control?”
Then you can focus on what you want to do, rather than fretting about things you don’t have the power to change.
Good luck with cultivating and mastering this useful mindset. And please me know how it goes.
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