Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Feeling Helpless and Not in Control

"I feel like my life should be the sum of the choices I’ve made, but it doesn’t seem that way. It feels more like life kind of happens to me and I just go with the flow. I don’t bother planning because plans never work out. I’m left feeling a little helpless and not in control. How do I feel more in control of my life? "

Does the following describe you at all? 

  • You have no set dinner time, because you just eat when you’re hungry. 
  • You have no set meal because you eat whatever is easiest, or sounds best at the moment. 
  • You only do laundry when you’re out of clean clothes (or a few days after), but never before. 
  • You only clean when company comes over. 
  • Besides work and the occasional appointment, you never know what you’ll be doing any given day. You wait for an opportunity to present itself, or figure it out as you go. 

Reactionary Living
This is a reactionary way to live. It’s waiting for needs and opportunities to present themselves and then dealing with them at that time. I’m not going to say it’s a “bad” way to live. If you consider yourself to be laid back and are happy going with the flow and living the life that comes to you, I’d say keep it up. You’re question; however, tells me that you would rather feel in control of your life than be controlled by it.

Proactive Living (Proactive Eating)
Choose a simple area of your life you want to control better. You can draw inspiration from the examples above or something else that comes to mind. For this example, let's choose dinner. You know you'll be eating every day and for the most part, what and when you eat are up to you.

Start by planning out your meals for the coming week and establishing a time when you expect to have dinner prepared. This will probably require coordination and input from others if you plan on eating with your family.

Then, make a shopping list and buy all the ingredients you will need. Do you know the feeling of looking in the fridge and cupboard trying to figure out what you can make out of milk, re-fried beans and ketchup? Say goodbye to that feeling! You'll have everything you need in stock and ready to go. Remember the feeling of nothing sounding good and ending up debating for an hour about what you should eat? Say goodbye to that feeling too! You've already made the decision. Things will come up and schedules will need to change, but that's okay. You can adapt to what life throws at you while staying in control of your own destiny. 

Of course, you may have the whole dinner thing under control already, or you're like me and have a spouse who already cooks delicious meals for you. If that's the case, choose something else. Choose whatever activity or area of your life that causes you more stress than it should. Then make a proactive plan to tame it. This will offer you stability and build your confidence in planning. That feeling of helplessness will fade and be replaced with the empowerment that comes with knowing you are in control of your life.

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