Would you like a recipe for driving yourself crazy if you are a control freak? Then follow your fantasy football team on the Sunday before a national election. It is hilarious for me to think that I have any control over how anyone on my fantasy football team will perform. Not only do I get incensed when Philip Rivers throws another interception, I somehow attribute it to his character, as if he was a bad guy. (By the way, I will never play him again unless, of course, that no-good Josh Freeman fails me today against the Raiders.) It is equally useful for me to read every story on both Fox News and MSNBC about how the latest “most important election of our time” will turn out.
When I was younger, I thought that I had a lot of control over my environment, and I pushed forward with decisions as though I did. This often works out well, because in areas of a person’s environment where no one is actively intervening, there is little resistance to imposing your will. For example, people will allow you to be slightly impolite or endure your mild insults that help you to get your way. In the short run this leads to the belief that you have more control than you do. In the long run, it can lead to habits of thinking that can drive you slightly bonkers. It also leads to unrequited anger, which includes muttering short syllables under your breath in traffic, random honking, and yelling at referees.
I have had multiple experiences in the last year where I have felt that my life was completely out of my control. I move from challenge to challenge, and I start noticing that more people are asking me about how I am feeling, which is never a good sign. Though I acknowledge their concern, I quickly move on to the next assignment, the next event, the next class. In a cause-and-effect world, it makes sense for me to do what I know to do. Where I can choose, I want to choose well. It is in the times that I do not get to choose that I am concerned about my response.
I am not suggesting that I should just lie down and let the world roll over me. Though my faith is central to me, I have a responsibility to act. What scares me a bit is that I can consciously recognize that a situation is beyond my control, and yet still emotionally react as if it ought to be something I fix. I think that this is unhealthy, and I see it reflected in a number of scandals in the business world.
Insider trading is an attempt to control the uncontrollable, or at least to control what is not justly supposed to be controlled. Raj Rajaratnam was a master of the game in his years running the Galleon Group, mining all the information he could regardless of the legalities that might be barriers to obtaining it. He used many people, including the former Goldman Sachs director, Rajat Gupta, to help provide him with the ability to control the uncontrollable. And after his conviction last month, Gupta will be joining Rajaratnam in federal prison as a result.
Corporate executives are often expected to control the uncontrollable. Public companies receive annual opinions not just on their financial statements, but on their controls. Of course, the quality of their planning will impact the company’s results. But pervasive economic trends, taxing structures, and commodity prices can only be planned for to a limited extent. There is no way to eliminate all of the uncertainty, despite marketplace expectations. Many corporate executives have crashed their companies by misleading investors, trying to give the impression they were overcoming forces beyond their control. (For those of you who are concerned, I am currently tied in my fantasy football game because two of my players are totally worthless.)
As a father of five, I see this tendency manifested in my attempts to control my children in areas where I ought to give them choice, even though they are transitional adults closing in on independence. When children are younger, we can control much of their environment, and we make many of their choices for them. We cannot protect them from every harm, but it is reasonable for parents to intervene and make choices that will help prevent serious damage. We can control where they go to school, who they play with, and what they eat. But we have to transfer that control to them, and our attempt to retain control beyond the days they are entrusted to us can only lead to long-term dysfunction and their inability to stand on their own. Even though our youngest son is a high school senior, we are still learning in this area. (While I was writing this paragraph, Josh Freeman completed two passes totaling 84 yards to Vincent Jackson, who is also on my fantasy team. I am now ahead by 21 points, and I am, by the way, a genius for having them both on my team. Sit down, Philip Rivers!)
If I am convinced that it can lead to various negative outcomes, how do I stop trying to control the uncontrollable? I would love to hear from you on how you have learned to let go of those things that you cannot control. Meanwhile, I need to go check and see what the polls say about the swing states so that I can question the credibility of the sources that disagree with me.
Mike, as parents of 4 we understand what you are saying. I believe that Richard held very strongly the conviction that we were raising our children to leave us (James Dobson) and was continually reminding me of this as early as elementary school when I wanted to pick out the clothes they were to wear the next day! He made me let go when I wanted to “fix up” our first son’s dorm room and couldn’t bring myself to leave. He continually warned them about the bankruptcy of the world’s values but let them make their own decisions/mistakes as they grew older.
And, of course, we prayed…and prayed…and prayed. To God belongs the glory that they all chose wonderful spouses and are responsible wives, husbands, and parents. Praise God that they are raising their children to love and obey God. And praise God for giving them a father who knew they we needed to let go because He knew that they needed to have their own faith and own convictions about following God. We were definitely fallible parents and made plenty of mistakes, so the glory goes to God for taking hold of their lives and drawing them to Himself. They aren’t ours, afterall…they belong to Him.
This is ironic. At roughly the same time as you were writing this blog, I was walking with my daughter (the middle of my five kids). She asked me, “Dad, what is the hardest thing about being a parent?” My answer was, “Letting you and your brothers learn from consequences rather than lectures about what might have happened if I hadn’t intervened.”
Then as I was writing my response, my sister-in-law called to ask me to check out her house because she thought it was struck by lightning.
One of my favorite quotes, one that I think has something to do with what we are talking about here, is by T. S. Eliot:
They constantly try to escape
From the darkness outside and within
By dreaming of systems so perfect that no one will need to be good.
I think that accountants are especially susceptible to the illusion of control that blinds them (us) to the need for judgment and self-examination.
I didn’t figure out the relationship with the quote and the blog…But I do agree with the comment saying that auditors are likely to over-estimate about the things undercontrol which may cause the loss of due diligence or even profession. Supposing that oral, written, internal, external evidence are the stuffs that can be controlled by auditors, there always be a audit risk laid in every audit which is known as unconcrollable. Based on the const-benefit theory, it’s not likely for accounting companies (and their clients) to focus too much on the uncontrollable things. But auditors should never 100% trust on the evidence they got and neglect the potential risk. In my point of view, professional skepticism is the mean by which auditors can turn the uncontrollable risk into controllable as much as possible.
I was having a similar conversation today with a colleague. We were listening to a radio show and the host was very adamant that Romney was going to win tomorrow. While I’m taking this year off of Fantasy Football I am doing a Pick ’em contest. It’s hard enough trying to predict how one game will turn out, including the spread, considering that there are over 100 young men who will actually play the game. How do people think that they can predict what millions of Americans wit varying degrees of knowledge, experience, and interests will do? For myself I treat it like an exam. I can study, review, practice, and take the test. After that it’s out of my control and nothing I do after affects my performance on the exam, so why worry about it?
Hi Dr. Shaub…love your blog. My parents theory about raising kids was to let us make our own mistakes when we were young when the mistakes were “little” mistakes, because we wouldn’t learn how to be independent all of the sudden when we hit 18 years old. I thank them for that, but how they were able to do that is beyond me! So, once you figure out how to not try to control the uncontrollable, let me know. My mantra this year is “let it go,” but I struggle with it daily. Why this mantra? New in-laws. 🙂 Give my best to Linda.
As a college student who is not entirely sure what I want to do with my life or what God wants me to do, I have definitely had experience with trying to control the uncontrollable. I was accepted into PPA the summer of 2012, so less than a year ago, and what a journey it has been. I sometimes felt (and still feel) that I had little or no control over which firm I ended up interning with, who I developed friendships with in class, even how I should spend my time. I struggled internally as I tried to reconcile what I thought I wanted out of life with what I felt was actually happening, and it was hard! But after a semester or so of wrestling with God about my life, He opened my eyes to see that He is in control and He is good. He is so much more capable of getting me where He wants me and I know that where He wants me is best. So I learned to let go of the uncontrollable because it was never mine to control in the first place. It is incredible the immediate joy and peace that comes over me when I remember that. The last thing I would say is that I have learned the wisdom of taking things a moment at a time. Enjoy where you are and rest in knowing that God has everything in His more than capable hands.
I think many of us college students are in this situation. Coming into college I knew I wanted to be in PPA, but after that I really did know what the rest of my plans were. I chose the firm that I interned with based on a gut decision, that I now know God had to of put there. Most of my friends I met by chance, but were the people that I needed to get through college and I couldn’t have picked better ones. I don’t think we are supposed to know exactly where are life is going, I think we just need to give ourselves the opportunity and make the effort to get to where we think God wants us and in the end he will do the rest. He is the only one who can truly control the uncontrollable. This is all easier said than done in practice of course, but I think we just have to remind ourselves to let things go and not stress ourselves out over them.
It is such a blessing to have this mindset in my life as well! I have always wanted to control my environment and my life, but everyone else is trying to do the same thing in their own interests, and that tends to mess things up (to say the least!). When I get frustrated with the way things are going, I remember all the times He has been faithful before, and I trust that He will be in the future as well. For people who may not have the worldview we have though, I wonder where they get their peace from when they really feel they have to control their world–or bust! I cringe to think about how stressful and exhausting that must be.
Dr. Shaub, this is really a topic for being well thought of. I thought it was an instinct of human beings to have all the things under control, which made ourselves feel safe. Just like what you wrote in this blog, Raj Rajaratnam, corporate executives, fathers all wanted to control something uncontrollable. Take myself as an example, I always made plans for everyday work, which would accurate to every detail(eg. 9:00-10:30am, reading;10:30-10:40,go to buy a cookie…etc., exactly one of the control freak (#_#)). And once a time if something interupted my plan, I would become kind of freak out. However, I felt that it was not good, because you could not control everything just like you cannot predict the future.
I recalled that I talked to my parents once, because I thought that they wanted to control everything in my life and I felt unfree. What they told me after my complaints was that they wanted to protect me from harm. So I realized that people expected to control the uncontrollable was to minimize the harm. However, if they insisted on doing that, they would get more harm.
Therefore, what I would treat the uncontrollable things now is to enjoy it, though it is truly difficult sometimes. But I think that just because of the existence of the uncontrollable things, life will become interesting. All the surprise, excitement, happiness come from something you even don’t know it’s happenning. So why not just “let it go” and enjoy it? Just do your best on all the things you can control.
1. Your first fault is drafting Phillip Rivers and Josh Freeman as your qb’s. Both totally overrated and Rivers throws about as many picks as David Carr had sacks in his 1st season with the Texans. 🙂
2. I think that trying to control the uncontrollable could, but not always, be detrimental to learning life lessons. I know for me growing up, my parents let me fail and didn’t always try to control the uncontrollable for me. These moments allowed me to define and exercise my individual morals and shaped me into who I am today. That’s not saying that they always did this, but I know they allowed me to go through this so I could start to learn these things while I was still under their roof. Not sure if this answers anything, but it’s experience that has impacted me greatly.
3. I had Vincent Jackson on my team as well. Great pick!
I agree with Jimmy. Philip Rivers? Maybe in 2011. As for trying to control the uncontrollable, it is just that: uncontrollable. There are certain things that you can do/teach somebody that may guide them (ETHICS) that may help somebody cope with the fact that a situation is no longer in their hands. As for your children, I’m sure you’ve ingrained a solid ethical background in them, which is all you can do when they eventually go off on their own. I picked up Aaron Rodgers with my first pick, and I was extremely frustrated with his performance after the first few weeks because he was supposed to perform above and beyond. Sometimes you are stuck with decision that you make, and you just have to make the best of them.
A desire to control the uncontrollable is an urge that everybody has. While the obstacles of a 21 year old college student are not comparable to yours, my best technique is through preparation. While I cannot control the weather, the traffic, or the difficulty of exams, I can bring extra clothes, leave early, and study an extra hour, just in case the circumstances are not in my favor.
I get the feeling that as time goes on, the preparation for potential obstacles will become more difficult, though.
Good point, Ben. I think that it is very important to be prepared for situations that are out of our control. Instead of trying to control the uncontrollable, we need to get better at planning, preparation, and managing our time. I think that we try to control these types of situations in order to get the best outcome. When situations are out of our control, the best thing that we can do is plan and prepare in hopes of achieving the desired outcome.
Dr. Shaub, I think everyone wants to control what they cannot control. Throughout my life I have had the same desire. Although I realize I know absolutely nothing about real-life (as I am a college student), I will say that I have adopted the motto “Carpe Diem.” For me personally, carpe diem helps me to relax. I just try to seize the day and do what I should and everything else will fall into place. I know that every time I start worrying my mind is not focused on the moment so I miss out on the happiness and opportunities that the moment could bring. I really like the way John Mayer said it, “No, it won’t all go the way it should, but I know the heart of life is good.” From my experience, I just do what I can to push a situation to where I want it to be and from there it is out of my hands and I trust everything will be fine in the end.
I hate to admit it but I like structure, routine, parameters, and to feel like I am in control. I like to think all of these characteristics will make me a good accountant, but I realize that there are times when I need to be more willing to throw caution to the wind and recognize that sometimes I have to just let things happen. But I also believe that there is fine line between taking responsibility for your life and being a control freak. Living a productive life requires recognizing safe boundaries and figuring out the maximum amount of latitude available within those boundaries so that we can live to the fullest, experience success, and not get arrested. Ok that is rather extreme, but I do think that so far I have been handed a pretty privileged life, and in exchange I owe it to myself, and to my family to take control of my life responsibly.
Until I read your blog I had not really considered how my need to feel like I have a handle on everything will make parenting challenging. Letting go is hard for me and as you said, as a parent there is a proper time for that. I realize now as a product of my parents, considering the challenges my brothers and I have presented, my parents have probably struggled with that. Contemplating this has brought to my attention that as I go through the stages of life I have ahead of me, I will have to relinquish some of my need for control. I will have to recognize that there will be times where there are no rules, and things will happen that I cannot determine. I just have to hope that when those times role around I will have learned to accept what I cannot control, but at the same time, do my best to confront those situations.
Very interesting to read! I cannot yet give you an answer on how to stop trying to control the uncontrollable, but I do wish that I could. While reading this article I had quite a few experiences in my life, both very simple and big, pop up where I have tried to control the uncontrollable. However, each time I have realized while I may be able to control a couple small things, in the big scheme of things I cannot control everything as I would like to think and I just have to have faith and trust it will all work out for the best, which is easier said than done. I have realized no matter what happens you just have to make the best out any situation and try to find the good in everything. When I have been able to accomplish that goal it has made my life and the life of others around me at the time much better. Worrying just takes away moments that could become wonderful new memories.
For the parenting side of things, I do not know anything about that yet, but I do know one thing. There were times and still are in my life that I wished my parents would give me an exact answer, but I can look back and see now that I learned more by them letting me make my own decisions and seeing the affects they have had on my life.
Carpe diem, I have heard this phrase quite a bit and never really knew what it meant, but I like how you have applied it to what it means in your life Caleb.
“Worrying just takes away moments that could become wonderful new memories.” This reminds me of something my grandmother always used to say. I too, am a perfectionist and love to have structure in my life. I dont necessarily love to control every circumstance, but I like to know what will happen and be in control of the “knowing.” Of course in certain circumstances, I don’t mind controlling the outcome as well.
Over the past four years, I have definitely eased up on my perfectionism. I’ve learned to accept that some things are just completely out of my control. But as you said, you just look for the good in everything and make the best out of every situation.
This particular blog sparked me because I never thought how my wanting to “control the uncontrollable” could affect my business decisions someday. I have long ago come to terms with the fact that I am an extreme planner. While this trait has been very beneficial at times in school and various other aspects of my life, I can’t help but be a bit jealous of my brother’s ability to be the complete opposite of me. My brother has the remarkable ability to just take events as they come with minimal worry or anxiety while still being very successful. I always thought his laid back mindset would change when decisions such as college, choosing careers, etc. became more important and life changing, but through all this he is still the same younger brother that tells me to not worry so much whenever I am ranting about something out of my control. After watching him grow up, I have come to realize that his ability to ‘let go’ when he is not in control stems from an inner peace that he is always in contact with. How he came to do this is a trait that makes him uniquely him, but it has inspired me over the years to try to connect with my own sense of constant inner peace. I find that when I am in contact with this peace I am less likely to try to control things that I can’t control and I can put more energy on issues that I can have an impact on. A tip I have for you is to make a list of everything you are currently doing to control the uncontrollable and attempt to quantify how much time this involves. After seeing it in numbers, this usually provides me with enough incentive to stop all the worrying and to use that time in a more productive way!
I think this is a great response and one that I can relate to because I have a younger sibling who is the same exact way! I have always thought one day she would change too, but as I have seen her grow over the years she never has and I have always been amazed and wished I was that way. I am not sure if it is a struggle for her sometimes and she just hides it super well because I know she does have decisions that are not always super easy, but I sure would like to know the secret.
I wanted to make a comment on here though because I think your tip is a great idea! It kind of made me laugh at 1st though how you quantified it into numbers because that definitely fits the stereotype of our major and accountants loving numbers. 🙂
I plan to try your tip though. First, I already tend to make quite a few lists so might as well add on another one and secondly, I am a strong believer that when you have something written out in front of you rather than just in your head it makes a much bigger impact.
This is so true. Accountants are seen as generally being of Type A personality, which includes being organized and making lists. My roommates would always tease me for my intensive lists and planning of events. This does come in handy when planning large events or when multitasking but, as mentioned, not everything has to be controlled. I have learned from my friend not to worry about things that are uncertain and that we cannot take immediate action on.
That is a gret tip and something that I think can help many of us struggling with this lack of control. For me, I learned to take a more relaxed approach a few years ago and it is something I am still learning to this day. I used to be a huge planner, I loved to plan out the details of my future so I could see what was coming and could essentially control my destiny. I began learning to let this go when it came time to go to college. I had a plan! I was going to get into UT, enroll in the masters accounting program, and then get a great job right out of school. When my plan was changed and it was out of my control I was devestated. Instead of getting into UT, I got into A&M and being an Austinite, I was disappointed to say the least. While at the time I was crushed, this turned out to be the best alteration to my plan, and one that I could not and would not accout for. A&M has become a home to me and I am forever grateful for this decision, one in which I had very little control over the outcome. I have met so many great people, made lifelong friends, and accomplished my goals along the way. This experience taught me that when I try to plan the details of my future and take control over things when I have very little control, life has a funny way of changing those plans for the better. I guess I have learned to have a little more faith in the unknown and the unforseen possibilities that only life can plan.
One of the best ways suggestions I have heard for this subject is to try to determine the things in life you can reasonably affect (how much you study, how hard you work, the time in effor you put into relationships) and to make the best of the things you can’t. Obviously this is easier said than done but it is something I have tried to live by.
Interesting thoughts- although I don’t have children, I can relate the concept of my life feeling ‘out of my control’ to being a Senior in college. I am in a phase of my life in which my peers and I are faced with a lot of unknowns about our future. Where will we work? What city? How do relationships/friendships/ family fit into the decision making process? This is part of the difficulty that we face as we choose whether or not to accept our internship offers. I ended up accepting mine, but I thought full well about whether or not I was accepting it because I felt like it was where I need to be, or just because it gave me a sense of security during this inconsistent phase of life.
This blog reminds me of the video we watched in Ethics about the climbers trying to make it to the top of a mountain. Their goal was to get to the top but they came into contact with a man who appeared to be dying under the harsh mountain conditions. A few climbers realized that they had a duty to take care of him and take him to safety. This is an example of how there are always unexpected hindrances that are necessary to take care of and can lead to diverting from the plan. Obviously, it is important for the top executives of a company try to plan around some of those unexpected events but, we are all human and cannot possibly think of every possible event that could go wrong and have a backup plan for each of them. This can lead to inconsistent financials, but both the investors and top executives of a company don’t want to be inconsistent. Everyone wants a consistent bank account. These human wants provide reason behind managments’ constant attempt to shape their financials.
As for my life, during my first year of college I learned that I cannot control the uncontrollable. I was immediately put in a surrounding where most of my friends came from very different and difficult life struggles, ones that I never had to deal with. That is when it all hit home for me. There are so many people in this world that are struggling just to eat and live and have no control over their own lives. That is when I really learned to trust that God is ultimately in control and he will lead me where I can fulfill his purpose. I can plan for the more obvious things, such as studying for a test or planning a meal but ultimately his purpose will be fulfilled, not my own.
Job 42:2 “I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted”
Dr. Shaub, I find myself also trying to control the uncontrollable. It is a struggle for me to be able to ‘let go’ of what I can’t control and to stop worrying. My Finance is the exact opposite of me, he doesn’t stress or become anxious over things that he can’t control and he doesn’t dwell in those areas and worry. His focus is on what he can control, and that is what I am striving to be more like. This allows for one to live a much happier life, with less stress and anxiety. A way that I am trying to break this bad habit is by realizing that I am only human and I can only do so much. I have to take a step back when I find myself becoming stressed out about something out of my control and remind myself that it is wasted effort, time and emotions. I also have to remember to keep my faith and focus on things that are in my control. I will continue to work toward these things and I wish you the best in your efforts as well.
I would say with complete confidence that trying to control the uncontrollable is easily in my top 5 most difficult struggles. I did not become an accountant because I loved change or uncertain circumstances…quite the opposite! I live to plan ahead and then to carry out that plan in perfect fashion. The title of “perfectionist” is one I carry much more often as a burden than a blessing. I think our attempts to control the future are our desperate attempt to hedge ourselves against disappointment. Whether in our personal lives or in a corporate setting, we feel most at peace when we can see what’s coming next. That way we can plan our response and evaluate the consequences without having to think on our feet.
If we’re being honest, no one enjoys being disappointed, some just rebound from it better than others. I for one, feel that my life spins into chaos at the first sign of a tweak or alteration in my plans. It has been a thorn in my side for most of my life and as I have gotten older and life situations have become more intense, I am learning rather quickly my need for increased faith and the ability to just roll with the punches more often. It is in my moments of greatest uncertainty that I have seen God’s faithfulness most clearly and I am thankful for those testimonies that I can point to when fear or worry start to set it.
Letting go of the worry of uncertainty is something I know I will continue to develop over my lifetime, but I hope that in the process I will learn to be a more peaceful, trusting person, while of course still remaining the “planner” I am at heart.
But seriously, this issue is something I struggle with daily. But also like you, I have seen how faithful God is during my times of uncertainty and have been able to rest in the fact that He is never uncertain. When I reflect on what my life usually looks like when I feel like I’m in complete control (major stress, unhappiness, broken relationships, etc.), I wonder why it is that I constantly strive to be in that state. The most beautiful and meaningful moments in my life have taken place when I’ve “let go”.
Kelsey and Lily,
I really liked both of your comments because I too struggle with this issue of having full control over almost every aspect of my life. Lily, when you said that you reflect on your life when in control, you experience stress and unhappiness. But when you give up that control, you are in a state of peace. I too agree with that because being in control is good for awhile, but eventually something crazy happens that throws us for a loop. We panic, struggle, and may ultimately fail when we’re trying to figure out how to handle the situation.
It’s almost ironic how we tend to be happiest when we give up control. I definitively say that is how God intended us to be. Controlling the uncontrollable is something He doesn’t want us to do. He doesn’t want us to worry about that. This is a big test for us: are we willing to give up our control to have complete faith in Him?
There will always be things I can’t control, because the last time I tried to control everything, all the things in my life spiraled downward. But it was while I was picking up the pieces that I realized no matter how far ahead I plan my life, it is never going to turn out that way. So in answer to your question, one day you just have to realize that everything will turn out exactly the way it is supposed to and you will survive whatever comes at you.
Lately, the long-term consequences of my decisions have become increasingly significant and much less clear. This combination is not the most convenient. The uncertainty has been very difficult to cope with, especially since my emotions and intuition make me feel like I should have control. In order to deal with my uncontrollable consequences, I’ve started writing down my thoughts a lot more frequently. Being completely transparent with my close friends and mentors about the unknowns is helpful. They provide me with new perspectives and encouragement. At the end of the day, when I have to face my anxious thoughts on my own, I think back on my rather short life and remember the series of uncontrollable consequences that have brought me here. In these moments, I realize that I have never actually been alone; I’ve been guided along the way. This fact gives me the peace to persevere.
I don’t know specifically the instance when I learned that I cannot control everything, but from then on I figured that I can control a little bit of every situation. That control is not preventing a situation from happening, but how I react to it and how to move forward. That part has been the hardest for me personally. There are somethings that happened that I could not get over, for whatever reason. It was hard to let it go, especially looking back on it and knowing that if I did this then that would have happened instead and I would be alright. It sort of just dawned on me, with the help of my mother, that even if I cannot control something, I can still do something (anything) about it to change even a small part to make it “better.” Although I do not think trying to call a NFL coach to change the line up will make much of a difference. It may make you feel better though.
I have learned that you can not control the uncontrollable. A good motto that I live by is that whatever happens happens, and in the end it will work out in your favor or you will learn something from the situation, but hopefully both happen. You have to learn that we cannot be in control of every situation in our life, no matter how much we think we can. I would love to say that I am so at ease with this philosophy of not having full control, but I am not. I understand that everything will work out in the end, but that doesn’t mean I don’t fight with myself on how I can change that outcome to my favor.
As I read this post, I learned of the fertilizer plant explosion in West. The coincidence is truly eerie. The point was, needless to say, driven home with a hammer.
And yet, another point has become evident. Though control is ultimately an unrealistic goal, an attainable one is found in learning from the past. This shouldn’t be confused with eternally lamenting the events that didn’t turn out the way we hoped or planned. Studying the precursors and contributing factors can inform us how to best do our part in the grand scheme of things.
I also read this article after hearing of the Boston Marathon explosions, poisonous letters sent to the President and fertilizer plant explosion in West. I think it’s safe to say that it’s been a difficult week for many people in our country, and here I am, wanting to control the outcome of the next couple of weeks. I want those that lost loved ones to be comforted. I want authorities to find the horrible people that planted explosives next to runner’s loved ones at the finish line. I want to know that there will be no more tragedy to follow these events. But then I run into the same issue that you’ve encountered – these desires are completely out of my control. In all situations where the control is out of my hands, I have one consistent response: Control what I can control, be the best that I can be at what I’m doing right now, and have faith, always.
Because most of my mom’s side of the family lives in West, I relate to the feeling of wanting to control and improve the outcome for the weeks lying ahead of the small town. It was a blunt reminder to me of the fact that preparation is not always enough. However, it is in these situations that I must rely on faith. While we cannot control the ultimate outcome of the tragedy that struck West or the Boston Marathon, we can control our reaction to these situations. In doing this, I argue that we can influence the overall outcome. Whether it be monetary donations, food donations, or just words of love and support, these factors combine to make an impact.
Additionally, I think Jonathan makes an important point in noting that we must invest the time in learning the causes of these tragedies, as this allows us to prepare for the future.
I guess, a desire to control something that is uncontrollable is understandable. Because sometimes human beings have the ambition and motivation to do better and always set a goal higher than we actually can reach. I do believe I am good at what I choose to do and I know I am always avoiding what I am not good at doing. That is because I knew there are many many things that are uncontrollable to me even if I still have the desire to change. I learned to be not that ambitious through the four-year study in college, not at all like in my childhood, wanting to be the best. I still want to be the best, but in a realistic way.
I can identify with this problem. This has been an issue for me growing up, and something I still work on to this day. It is the case for me that my faith has allowed me to give up trying to control the uncontrollable.
My point of view through my faith on these matters has become “just because I am not in control, does not mean God is not.” That’s probably a good thing too, since I don’t always make the best choices when I am in control. I think for me, it comes down to just being able to let go and trust, and then go and do my best on what I can control.
I really enjoyed this post. The challenge lies not just in recognizing that we are not in control but taking it a step further and finding comfort in the fact that the Creator of the Universe is the one calling the shots. Phew. Thank goodness I am not in control of my life, or anyone else’s for that matter. I consider it a trial picking out ONE thing from dozens on a menu at a restaurant. I believe we all cry out to Jesus to save our lives when it starts looking like the boat will capsize amidst the crazy storms life throws at us, forgetting that God created the water the boat is on and is obviously in control of that storm. When we shift our focus from the waves to the One who created them, the waves lose importance.
All that being said, I have had few boat-rocking experiences thus far but I know they will come. I know, further that in those storms is where I can test my faith in God and his control over my life.
I like this article. It There are lots of resonance. I think I have a strong personality of controlling. I did not recognize it until recent years. Before, uncontrollable things make me feel very anxious and I did not like being along with people who are not self-control. My old friends get used to it and I took this tolerance for granted. However, when I went to university and studied aboard in America, I realized no one is responsible to endure these imprudent and selfish dispositions. They not only make some of my friends not comfortable and under pressure, but also make me always under unnecessary anxiety. I begin thinking about it because it is bad for myself and my beloved ones, also I recognize that there are so many things out of my control. I can study hard to get better grades, but my career is not guaranteed and determined just by academic grades. I used to hate changing my plan because it seems previous efforts are in vain. But now, I felt what I stick with should be my dream, principle and belief instead of a plan. Nothing changed is change itself. I begin to believe this is the beauty of life: I never know what will happen and who will enter into my life.
I can always appreciate someone sharing their fantasy football hardships. Although some on this blog have questioned your selection of Phillip Rivers, he had a track record of putting up consistent numbers over the years. As far as trying to be in control, I think to a certain extent everyone wants to be completely in control and have things go as planned. If we consider what it would be like to always be in control, I think we would find that it wouldn’t be as great as it may seem. The “unknown” is what makes life interesting and enjoyable. If things always went our way, if we always started the right player in fantasy football, these things wouldn’t be as fun.
Ultimately, all we can do is prepare for the situations we will encounter and then see what happens.
Sometimes, we think we can control the uncontrollable, especially when we are very young. Actually we cannot. When we grow older, we realize that there are so many things that we cannot control. If we have tried and we still cannot change it, we should let it go. No person can control all the things. But I don’t mean you give up any challenge before you try to overcome it. If you don”t try, we will never know whether it is controllable or uncontrollable.
I think life is a process full of challenges and opportunities, and you never know the result of any challenge or opportunity. Whatever the challenge you face, the first thing is to evaluate it, and have your plan to face it. I agree we should try to control the uncontrollable. We should try our best to control the uncontrollable. However, we still need to know, if we tried and still cannot make it, we should give up. That’s our life, with hopes, but also with regret.
Although I have no experience in raising children (or fantasy football leagues for that matter), I definitely can relate to trying to control things that I simply cannot. For example, when my 16 year old younger sister is close to making a mistake I have already made, I try so hard to push her in the right direction and then I find myself getting upset when she does it anyway. There are other times when I find myself so stressed out over something I have absolutely zero control over. In times like these, I think back to the wisest words my grandma has ever shared with me. “Breathe”. It reminds me to take a step back during the times when I’m feeling controlling, take a deep breathe and really reflect on the situation. Usually, the conclusion I come to is that there is nothing I can do. In a way, it is almost relieving to realize there is nothing you can do. I think the only thing you can do, is to be prepared and open to the outcomes. If loved ones are involved, be prepared to support them in the end. Humans have the tendency to want something so badly, they will do anything to obtain it, but when you obtain something through deceit and unauthentic means, it is not real.
What a fantastic post! I didn’t realize that my recent stress was coming from me trying to control “the uncontrollable things” in my life until I read this. I was very worried about my newly wedded husband for having no health insurance currently. It is too late for him to enroll in my plan this year, and his pre-existing condition denied him access to other commercial individual plan. There really is nothing I can do at this point besides waiting for his new job to enroll him in a group plan. However, I was not able to let the fear go, and it bothers me all the time. I do feel relieved now since I realized it is “uncontrollable”. Thank you for taking this off my shoulder.
I agree that it can be self destructive to focus on things that are simply out of our hands, but I believe that it is human nature to try to control as much as you can. I think that most people want to avoid the uneasiness that an uncontrollable situation would bring. Control brings the comfort of stability to a person’s life, but stability in extreme measures allows for stagnation. At the same time, feeling vulnerable to the twists and turns that life can bring would drive someone crazy as quickly as trying to control it. I believe the trick is embedded in what you and Chuck wrote above. Don’t let the fear of vulnerability allow you to be rolled over. Instead, embrace the variances that life can bring to you.
I believe along with trying to control the uncontrollable, accountants are prone to over-analyzing a decision and its potential outcomes. Will I accept my offer? What do I really want to do in my career? Where will I live after I graduate? These are all valid concerns we should think through. However, there is a point where we must learn to trust. I believe in the midst of all this, it is good to be reminded that there is no right or wrong decision as long as you are following God’s will. When you try to control the uncontrollable, you will find yourself missing out on the simple joys of life. When you let go, some of life’s biggest blessings will surprise you in the most unexpected places.
I am a control freak and the Lord knows it; I want things to go my way. I have a specific list I expect to fulfill in my life, and I become very frustrated when certain things on my list don’t get checked off in their timely manner. Let me tell you it took a long time for me to finally grasp that being in control is not what I want, nor is it what’s best for me. I just have to take a step back and realize that God’s plans far exceed my own. I always forget God can see further down the road than I can, and I rejoice in knowing that truth. I trust Him with my life; after all, He gave it to me. We all live a purpose driven life. We will face situations that will push us to our limits, induce fear, and even bring grief, but it’s important to remember that there is purpose in the pain and that ultimately God is in control.
I think you have a great point, Rachel! I think faith has a lot to do with the answer to Dr. Shaub’s question, “how to stop trying to control the uncontrollable.” The whole idea of controllable vs uncontrollable reminds me of this classic prayer: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” I think that in life, as you said, we must give our full effort to be the best that we can be, but also remind ourselves that we are not in ultimate control and that is a good thing!
I agree with you Katie! Whenever I’m stressed or worried about things that I have little or no control over I try to think about 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.” The part that I struggle with the most is “And the wisdom to know the difference.” At times, we think that we are powerful beyond measure and other times we find safety in, “well there isn’t anything I can do about that.” As we grow in life we’ve got to work towards the wisdom needed to understand the difference between the things we can’t change and the things we can. When we have the wisdom to do this we end up saving ourselves a lot of trouble and a lot energy.
As accountants aren’t we supposed to try and create order and control out of chaos? I feel that, as we have chosen our majors in accounting, it is clear that we are addicted to trying to control the uncontrollable. We assure ourselves that pro forma financial statements will reflect the company’s future performance. We are content with our evaluations that the company will or will not continue into the future in our going concern evaluations. In short, accountants are the epitome of trying to control and predict the uncontrollable and unpredictable.
This is probably the number one thing I struggle with. I didn’t even start to notice I had a problem with trying to control the uncontrollable until about 2 years ago. I would constantly worry about things like internships, future career, where I will end up and who I would end up with. At the end of the day I had to let go and realize everything will fall in place.
I also agree with Jimmy in the sense that most of us accounting majors probably have similar problems when it comes to this, it’s just in our nature.
An oxymoron to say the least! How do we control the uncontrollable? I think it’s simple, you can’t. I found that if I tried to control things that I actually could not, I was angry just like you. I think my parents were right when they said, “if you got everything you ever wanted, it wouldn’t mean anything.” By learning to let go I think you find more reward when the uncontrollable things actually go your way for once. And when they don’t, I guess we can chalk it up as a lesson learned. A phrase that has helped me let go is “let go and let God.” I am here on Earth by his divine doing anyways, I might as well let Him do his work with me.
Attempting to control the uncontrollable sounds like an incredibly irrational use of time and energy, yet is something that almost all people take part in. The only thing that we have an ability to change is our response to the uncontrollable circumstances. Developing an ability to distinguish between factors that are within our control enables us to apply effort in areas that will yield results (rather than screaming at the TV when players on your fantasy team let you down). This discipline of focusing on matters that we can impact and ignoring the background noise is what Warren Buffet attributes much of his success to.
Trying to control the uncontrollable is something I struggle with daily. With so much going on in life, I constantly find myself trying to plan out what’s next and where I’m going with my life. Letting go is hard for me, I’m the type of person who always wants to fix it or figure it out. I find myself all too often worrying about so many things, some big some small. Everyday I have to remind myself to give my worries to God and put my life in His hands. I know that He has a great plan for me, and that I just need to trust him. While I still struggle with trying to control things, I find comfort in knowing that He will lead me down the path that I need to go.
I completely agree Jessica! I love to be in control – the uncontrollable terrifies me. I realize this is something I need to work on. That some things are meant for God to take care of and that it isn’t my job to spend time worrying about these things. But, we are at a point in life where SO MUCH is unknown, and I can’t help but worry. Where will I work? Where will I live? etc. However, I know there is a plan. A plan greater than I could have ever planned for myself. So, I know I need to let go of some of these things and trust in Him. However, sometimes this is so much easier said than done.
Dr. Schaub, I believe the principal of trying control the uncontrollable applies to almost every situation. There is very little that we can truly control. Most decisions that we make and many situations that we find ourselves in, are almost always beyond our control. I have recently experienced this while applying for the PPA program. Here is my personnel logic. I studied hard to get good grades, I got good grades to get accepted into the PPA program, I got into the PPA program to get a good degree and I want to get a good degree to get a good job. While going through this logic, I realized that there is not a single step that I can fully control. Studying hard doesn’t necessarily result in good grades; grades depend on your professor, on the difficulty of the class, on the mood of the grader, etc. Good grades do not guarantee you admission into the PPA program; hundreds of students apply to the PPA program but only a handful of students get accepted. Acceptance depends on vacancies available, extracurricular activities, background, etc. Just because you get accepted in the PPA program does not mean that you will excel or even be able to complete this program. Finally, getting a good degree does not always translate into a good job or any job for that matter. Getting a job depends on if a job is available, the location, company’s financial capabilities, etc. So, as you can see, there is almost nothing that we can truly have full control over.
Trying to control the uncontrollable is such a seemingly important human pursuit. The need to feel safe and secure leads to this quest for control of our environment based on the erroneous idea that we know what is best for, not only us, but others also. Having to be in control of so much is very stressful and time-consuming. I have found that no matter how much I plan and worry about certain things in life, especially those beyond my control, they always work out for my best interests. So why spend the extra time and energy on things that are beyond my control?
Instead, I try to use the words in Philippians 4:6 to guide my actions in these circumstances: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God which surpasses all comprehension shall guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Not as easy as it sounds; however, I try to use my faith and remember there is someone greater than all of us who is working for our good if we just ask. Let him take control!
I would like to say that I have given up on trying to control the uncontrollable, but that would be a lie; however, I have gotten better. I lost my grandpa two weeks before starting college, which was four years ago. It was then that my lack of control became apparent because it was not his time to go. He died a sudden death and I thought my world was over. I have been fortunate enough to know all of my grandparents, and even some great-grandparents, and the thought of losing even one of them was unbearable. I do think it can take some drastic happening for you to realize that everything happens for a reason, and you cannot control everything that happens to you. Though I would like to.
The title of this blog really stood out to me so I decided to read it. The part about being able to control your children made me laugh a little to myself because earlier today, I took my dog (a shih tzu) to take a temperament test at a local doggy playcare. He was put in a room with other dogs to see how well he got along with them. The dogs he was tested with were all larger dogs, labs and german shepherds and golden retrievers. I was tickled watching my dog try to figure out what was happening but I also felt anxiety for him, like I wanted to be in that room to protect him and also to tell the other dogs to not be so aggressive with my baby boy. I knew that the only way my puppy could pass this test was without my help. I called my mom afterward to tell her about it and she commented that she knew I would be a very overprotective parent when it came to my children coming close to anything that is remotely dangerous. So learning to let me children fall and scrape their knees is going to break my heart, but accepting that it’s a way for them to learn will be beneficial for them.
We should not spend our life stressing out about things that we cannot control. By doing this we create unnecessary stress. If you feel that you are a victim of your environment, you are simply a servant to your impulsive thinking. Whenever you see yourself stressing out about something that someone else did, simply stop thinking about it. I know it is a lot easier said than done, but it is possible to shift your attention. Go out for a run, listen to music, or do something else that you enjoy. Focus on what you can control. It is not worth living your life worrying about the little things. Always try to see the good side of things and you will find yourself living a much happier life. It may feel uncomfortable at first because your brain is already wired for you to think a certain way due to many years and generations of having this mindset. The more that you practice this, the sooner it becomes an unconscious habit. If everyone could awaken themselves to identify and block the ego on their mind, the world would be a much better place. Humanity would live at peace.
Everyone tries to control the uncontrollable at times and it is something that people have to learn to let go. Not everything in life can be controlled. This starts with letting people make their own decisions even if you know they are the wrong decisions. In the business world, people are going to make mistakes and try to control something that they can’t. However, you must learn that you can’t control everything as it will get you in trouble and you must try to let these things go no matter how difficult it may be.
I think its human nature to think you have the power to control the uncontrollable. In every bad situation you always ask yourself what you could have done and usually its always nothing. It’s strange that we have the tendency to think we’re all powerful when we’re one of seven billion people in this world. But it’s also important to act when you do have the power too. If you always believe that you have no control then you’ll miss out on the opportunity to make a difference. If Cynthia Cooper had done nothing because she thought it wouldn’t help, who knows what could have happened at WorldCom. It is important to find the balance of taking action and accepting the unalterable.
Tying to control the uncontrollable is something that I had to learn not to do over the years. Being an athlete and playing basketball is a challenge when you like things your way. Playing with teammates that were struggling on their shooting and referees calling bogus fouls were things that I wanted to control. I had to learn that I just have to play and let whatever happens happen. There are a lot of things in my life that I cannot control and I learned to not stress over them because they are after all, uncontrollable.
It is natural for us to want to be in control of everything in our lives, our career, our grades, traffic, our finances, our luck, etc. It is one of the hardest things to be able to accept that things are simply out of our control. It’s scary to think that so much of your life depends on other people’s skills, will, and wants. At times, it may seem like the world is against you, but these are things that everybody faces. Thinking about this can cause stress to pile on in our lives. We will lead much happier lives if we just learn to know when to let go, and accept that sometimes there is nothing that we could/can do. That also runs the risk of sometimes being complacent with the way that things are, when in reality we can make a difference. It is a fine line that we can only learn to handle with experience. Nevertheless, being able to recognize these risks and attempting to identify them in situations is the first step in trying to alleviate this problem.
There have been plenty of events throughout my life that I have realized I have no control over the outcome, similar to your fantasy football team. Instead of pointing each of these events out, I will tell you what I have learned from these experiences.
In order to remain confident and content with my decisions, I have had to learn to control what I cannot control and let God take care of the rest. I know this sounds cliche and repetitive of what most people would say but it is the truth. I think the hardest part is just accepting this fact. Now, I am not saying this is easy or that I am perfect at accepting this. I just know if I set myself up for the best and work hard to control what I can then in the end, whatever happens is what is meant to be. I think this becomes easier over time. It also becomes easier when you stop focusing on the little, uncontrollable things in life that that do not have great significance. Life is too short to try to control everything. If you focus on first controlling yourself and trying to become an example for others, maybe other people and events will be impacted by your example and the outcomes will be better than if you tried to control them.
As I get ready to graduate and leave college, I am slowly getting more anxious with the fact that I don’t know what the next step is. My whole life has been organized into very measurable steps. Go to elementary school, go to middle school, go to high school, go to college. I almost had a road map in my head of where I was going next. While I do have a job lined up after graduation, I find myself asking “But what comes after that?” There is no measurable end to one phase, and no clear beginning to the next. Although it is difficult, I am learning to accept the fact that life is not a series of calculated steps, and I can not control everything that happens along the way.
This has always been a tough area for me. I am continually learning to let go of things that I can not control. Though I may be determined to do something, the ultimate outcome is in God’s hands, not mine. I can’t even explain the peace I feel when I have decided to give over my fears or worries to Christ. It is as if a load has been lifted, and I can go on living and walking with Him every step of the way. My book I’ve been reading over the semester, Just Cate, has challenged me to do this more and more, and I’ve experienced great joy in having faith in God’s ultimate plan for my life.
I will admit that my initial instinct is to try to remain in control of my situations. But I have had to remind myself, more times than not, that I don’t want to grow to be the type of person that cannot seem to ever let go. When you finally learn that there are some things that you will never be able to control, it can be relieving. I don’t always have to be in control, I can let go and see where things lead. God has a plan for everyone, and when I slowly realize parts of the one He has for me, I am thankful for the times of trial. In retrospect, I can see that everything that has happened up to this point has served a purpose. I continually remind myself of the phrase: “Let go, Let God.”
“Where I can choose, I want to choose well. It is in the times that I do not get to choose that I am concerned about my response.”
I really enjoyed this line of your blog. Personally, I am so focused on the ways that I drive my life and how to prepare for those moments, that I pay no attention to what I will do when the uncontrollable happens. Luckily, I have not been faced with too many uncontrollable moments, but I know that my personality may not react to the situation very well. My personality in one word could be planner, and the fear of something out of my reach happening is something that scares me. Your blog allowed me to dwell on the uncontrollable nature of life, and how I need to make sure that my faith is strong so that if something happens I can “control” the situation by turning to my faith.
It’s really been interesting to compare and contrast my life in the past year with my life four years ago. Four years ago, I had substantially less control over my life due to parental restrictions. However, I was constantly stressed over the things that I could control whether it was individual grades, sports, or relationships.
Now at point where I am in much more control of my life, and while those things are no less important to me, I have learned to deal with the stresses that accompany them much more effectively.
It has really stemmed from a mindset change in which I realized that while I can work as hard as possible, there are always going to be way more things outside of my control than things in my control. We all have a purpose on this Earth, and I feel that there’s really no need to stress over reaching that purpose or discovering what that purpose is because it’s largely out of our control.
Ultimately I am in control of my life, however I have no problem with allowing a certain ebb and flow to it. I know that good and bad things will come and go, my first job will not be the job I have until I retire, and I may have to move around the country several times until I find a city I wish to live in. Once one lets go of things that are bound to come to them as a challenge and accepts change is a natural part of life, the more pure enjoyment you can get out of the ride we call life.
Looking back on my past, I am able to notice certain instances that I’ve tried to control the uncontrolable. When the outcome didn’t come the way I tried to control it, it tended to bother me and I would always wonder what I could have done differently.
This is a topic I am sure that every student has come across at least once in their life. Over the years, a student worries about certain internships, future career and future relationships. This is something that is uncontrolable to an extent, yet everyone tries to control their own path. Realizing that these things are uncontrolable is, in my opinion, a very hard thing to do. At the end of the day, you have t let go and realize that your upbringing, morals, and goals will guide you in the path that you desire.
Like most of those that have commented on this thought-provoking post, I have a great struggle with wanting to control what is ultimately out of my hands. I have noticed this issue has been magnified in my life lately relating to my decision about whether or not to accept my offer. I want to have a clearly planned and direct route for exactly where my life is going, without any uncertainties along the way. Obviously, this is not a feasible or healthy way to live, like you mentioned.
As I reflect and turn to my faith, I think about all of the times God led me to the place I needed to be even though it was definitley not the way I planned it myself. Striving for control in every situation only leads to anxiousness and disappointment when things are not “going according to plan.” Along with leaning on God, my number one goal when it comes to overcoming this controling nature is to lighten up! We are meant to enjoy life (and not take everything too seriously), whatever circumstances come our way.
While we cannot control everything, there are somethings we should take a proactive approach to. A wedding rarely goes according to plan, the food can be bad, the bride can be late, and the guests can be rowdy. What is important is trying to see things that can happen, before they happen. No matter how much you try to control something the outcome can always differ from what you expect.
One of the important themes of the book I’m reading is exactly how to let go the things that you cannot control. The name of the book is “The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius Antoninus” .Marcus Aurelius said, there are two kinds of things always by your side, one is that things do not touch the soul, for they are external and remain immovable; our perturbations come only from the opinion which is within. The other is that things change immediately and will no longer be. The universe is transformation; life is opinion. We always mistakenly think that we can control everything and become arrogant, therefore, in order to let us has the gift to gain the inner peace, God give us the lesson of lose.
This area is something I too have experienced trouble with. Whenever I find myself trying to control the uncontrollable, I reflect on how things in life always seem to work out for the better. Being a man of faith, I understand from first hand experiences that God works in mysterious ways. For those down on their luck, things do eventually turn around. It takes mental fortitude and internal reflection to understand when you need to “let go and let God” as my mother always says.
I appreciate the post Dr. Shaub. You did an eloquent job of taking a common problem everyone struggles with and putting it into words.
For me I know I have a very hard time accepting that I don’t have control over everything. Last year when my grandfather was diagnosed with cancer it was really hard for me. I was really close to my grandfather and even though I have a very firm belief in God it was very hard for me to come to the conclusion that all I could do was pray and see what God had in store. It is easy to tell someone else to not lose faith, to keep praying, and that God will work things out in the end. When you are in the situation though, it is so very hard to do these things. I started to almost hate when people would tell me to just keep praying. I wanted to do more than that. I felt so helpless. I felt like I was letting my grandfather down. Eventually I came to realize that I was letting my feelings of helplessness take control of myself. There were times that I would not want to go see my grandfather because I didn’t want him to be disappointed in me for not being able to do more to help him. Looking back at it I wish that I had not let my helplessness take control of me. If I had just given the control to God I could have felt more at peace with the situation. I could have spent more time with my grandfather that I will never get back.
This is something that I struggle with on a daily basis. Learning that I cannot control every aspect of my life is something that I’ve had to learn the hard way. I’ve always tried to plan out every detail of my life, and to my dismay, a lot of my plans have fallen apart. From this, I’ve learned that although I may have plans for my future, so does God. I’ve had to accept that God has ultimate control in my life, and there are things in this world that are far beyond my control. In a way, coming to this realization has taken a great weight off of my shoulders. In the end, I know things will work out for the best because God has a plan. This is a comforting fact that allows me to relinquish my control and cease any and all worrying about my future. It’s still a struggle for me sometimes when I’m dealing with the unknown. I often wish I knew what the future has in store for me, but in the end, I just have to trust that everything will work out the way it is supposed to
I too have a fantasy team and I have the exact same feeling. I got second in my fantasy league with all of my guy friends last year. I deal with losses a little better than some of the guys, although when Matt Schaub failed me in the championship game, I have to say I was pretty upset! The best advice a friend gave me that I have tried using myself was to hope for the best but to be okay when something does not go my way, by just knowing that it will not affect me a month from now. Somehow things tend to always work out for the best. I’m glad to know that I am not the only one with this problem.
You mean I cannot control every aspect of my daughter’s life for her entire life? (Yes, I did know this) However, it breaks my heart to even consider the possibility of her getting hurt, knowing that I could have steered her in the right direction. I never thought of myself as a control freak, but I realize that I absolutely loathe not knowing what is going to happen. I have to sit back, and trust that God is going to allow everything to work out in due time. In the mean time, I have to cherish every moment with my daughter and raise her in a way that will benefit her in the future. Hopefully she will ask my advice on everything, that way I can at least give her my two cents!
I think you are in the same situation at the majority of people. I share the same problem as you, except I tend to accept things for how they are. For example, Obama is our current president; I could easily turn off the tv every time I hear him speak because I don’t agree with many of his policies. This is the cowardice thing to do and in the end you are just hurting yourself. Just because we don’t have control over the situation doesn’t mean we need to distance ourselves from it. I am a conservative republican, but if every republican disagreed with every word the president said then it would be impossible for our nation to continue to grow. We need to remember that we can’t control every outcome, but without some sort of unity we are only hurting ourselves. We take for granted many freedoms that many people only dream about. God Bless America!
Controlling the uncontrollable makes me think of insurances. People buy insurance for their car, home, business, and lives, because they know events will occur that they cannot control. At the same time, many products are in the market for the same reason: to mitigate risk, such as breath mints and umbrellas. Auditors exist to control the “audit risk” which is almost considered uncontrollable, for outside investors.
In my opinion, if we zoom out to see the big picture, almost all uncontrollable things can be controlled. I am not saying that we can prevent them, but we can control the outcomes. [Some people here talk about how they rest on God and let him be in charge. I agree with them. He controls the situations, allows and prevents them for happening. Isn’t that a good feeling that someone is taking care of you, so that you do not have to worry about being in control?]
My dad, every since I was a wee little lad, told me “to never ever worry about the things you can’t control, channel that negative energy into bettering yourself.”
Since then, I have carried this with me in almost everything that I do, and it has saved me a lot of stress and (hopefully) helped me grow as a person.
Trying to control the uncontrollable is something I struggle with in my daily life. Although I am not an extremely type “A” personality, I definitely consider myself more on the controlling, orderly side of things. I like to know what’s going on and when they are happening with plenty of time in advance to make sure that I can plan everything out accordingly. It can be so difficult sometimes to just let go of things and trust that things will all work out. For me personally, I know that I need to work on letting go and remembering that God is in control, and all that I can really do is trust.
Controlling the uncontrollable is simply impossible. Attempting it will drive you to madness while hiding from uncontrollable forces leaves you ignorant.
For me, I accept that there are things that are out of my control. Worrying about things that are random and uncontrollable is unnecessary.
I tend to have this problem in the opposite way. I am very good at letting things go and at times I am too relaxed about it when I should be more aggressive. However, I love that I am able to do this when bad things come my way. It is a blessing for me, and I have been able to use it to help out friends through hard times as well.
I’ve found that I focus on taking control of the things that I can control to the full extent that I can. That is, I try to lead a disciplined life and to be as intentional as possible. Knowing I’m taking responsibility for what I can makes me feel better about the things I cannot control.
I would have to say that I have the same personality trait where I like to control everything in my environment. Sometimes it drives me crazy that I can’t control certain aspects in my life. It’s during these times that I remind myself to stay calm and not let myself get overwhelmed by the lack of control going on around me. For me I had to come to the point where I realized that not all things can be controlled, otherwise you are causing yourself more pain than good. I realized that sometimes you just have to let things play out because sometimes letting go can lead to a better outcome than you thought was possible.
Great article. I always find myself trying to control things in my environment that are way out of my control. Then I eventually realize the more I force things, the less likely I am going to receive the results that I am seeking. One example of how I try to control the uncontrollable is when my favorite baseball team starts playing bad. For some reason, I always have the natural tendency to think that there is something I can do to make them better, but there isnt. Similar to this situation, in auditing I know there are some audit risks I am going to encounter that I am not going to be able to control. Overall, there are going to be things out there that I cannot control and I am just going to have to deal with that. Like you said though, I am not going to let the world roll over me either.
I struggle with being in control myself. I have to constantly remind myself to be flexible and that it is ok when my plans change. If I have made a plan for myself for the day, maybe it’s doing laundry or studying at a certain time, I stick to that plan. If a friend comes over and needs to talk, many times I want to just keep to what I’m doing. They weren’t acting on my schedule and so I therefore push them aside. I have had to learn that I can’t control everything in my day. Even if something comes up that I hadn’t planned for, I can still be flexible and go with the flow of that day.
As I read your post, I found myself disappointed in realizing that this particular struggle of “trying to control the uncontrollable” does not resolve itself with age. However, it is incredibly encouraging to read not only your post, but also the various other student responses that coincide with what has been my central struggle for the past year. As an accounting major, it is no surprise that my type-A personality has a tendency to attempt to control many aspects in my life, especially when it comes to school. Luckily, my major allows for that control. In accounting, there are rule that must be followed. When we have questions these rules, thankfully, supply us with solutions.
Unfortunately, life and its struggles aren’t guided by a clear set of rules. In the past, when faced with a problem that didn’t have a clear answer, my mind went into crash mode. I searched for anything controllable to grasp onto. I wasted time and energy trying to control the things that I had absolutely no power over. Although it is still a work in progress, I have learned to make a daily conscious effort to identify the things in my life that I CAN change. I worry about those first and then pray that God will take the rest off my mind.
I have always had a problem with worrying about things I cannot control. I am constantly catching my self stressing out about things other people are doing, or things that have already happened. Lately I have been tying to tell my self that nothing is ever as bad as I make it out to be in my head. Another way I have tried to manage stressing out about the uncontrollable is putting more trust in others. When you trust the people around you, it is easier to deal with not having control.
I try to follow the philosophy of changing the controllable and accepting the uncontrollable. When I was younger I used to frustrate myself trying to change the uncontrollable. The frustration mainly resulted from attempting to change the undesirable behavior of family, friends, class mates, and co-workers. However, unfortunate and unexpected events in the recent years have led me to understand that not every situation can be controlled. Since waking up to this realization, I choose to focus on how progress can be made in uncontrollable situations. I believe progress can be achieved when we work hard and make positive efforts to change the controllable and accept the uncontrollable.
One of my favorite quotes is from the Serenity Prayer, “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,The courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference.” It’s so difficult to accept that there are some things in life beyond our control. But I think the hardest part of all is the third part of the phrase, knowing what which aspects of life you can control and which you cannot. I think if we strive to make this distinction, letting go will be when necessary will be easier.
I completely agree with you. Some things are just out of our control and its hard to accept that. One of my siblings tends to make bad decisions when it comes to studying. I tried to help him study, but he seemed more interested in having a good time with his friends. I eventually quit helping him study so that he could figure out college on his own. It worked, he buckled down in school when he realized he wasn’t going to make it out and now he is Mays Business School. This has taught me that I need to sometimes let situations work themselves out and not try and control everyone’s life. I need to give more people credit because I should know they will eventually do the right thing.
I think so much of the pressure and ultimately unethical decision making in large companies is a direct result of unrealistic expectations. It seems absurd to me that at all times, companies are expected to be improving and growing and ultimately becoming more valuable. Greed is something that I’ve never really understood after a certain point, and sometimes I feel like people look at me crazy when I suggest companies should act a certain way “because they wouldn’t make the most money if they did that.” I wish we could live in a world that didn’t put financial performance under such a microscope, because I feel like it is these unrealistic expectations that take control of one’s life out of that individuals hands.
Trying to control the uncontrollable is something that most people probably struggle with. We like to feel like we are completely in charge of everything that goes on in our lives. However, I often have found comfort in the fact that I cannot control anything. When I face a situation that is out of my control, I tend to see it as less stressful because there is nothing I can do, and nothing I have to do, to change anything. For this reason, I actually like situations that are out of my control.
I have noticed myself constantly trying to control the uncontrolable, as I am a very big sports fan. Many times I seem to find myself having a lot of knowledge about what a certain team should do, but having no way of controlling or alerting those in charge about my idea. I have to constantly remind myself that there are lots of things in life that I cannot control, and to only worry about things that are in my control. I feel like the same thing happens in school. As soon as I finish a test I will think of an answer to a question, and will be miserable the rest of the day because I knew I should have gotten it right, but have no control over the situation now. Focusing on things that I can control is something that I have been working on, but it’s a constant battle that I’m fighting.
Although this topic seems pretty obvious, after reading it I realized that I have never actually sat down and thought about my attempts at controlling the uncontrollable. As an avid sports fan, your analogy between the topic and fantasy football painted a very clear picture for me. It’s funny to think that as I watch analysts debate over different sports topics on Sportscenter, I subconsciously begin judging the analyst who’s opinion differs from mine. Although these analysts are often debating over the possibilities of different outcomes that are impossible to know, I find myself siding with whichever analyst holds the same opinion as me, believing that my opinion will be the right opinion. As a Spurs fan, I take pleasure in the fact that shows like Sportscenter spend the majority of their time covering “sexier” teams like the Miami Heat or the Los Angeles Lakers. It’s only when the season is coming to an end and the Spurs are yet again amongst the top teams in the league, that they begin to receive coverage. At the beginning of every season, I have faith that The Spurs will be in this position when the end of the season arrives, when in all reality I have no way of knowing for sure. I find myself trying to find a way to control the uncontrollable in the sense that I tell all of my friends, with one hundred percent certainty, that The Spurs will have yet another successful season. Relating my point to my professional career, it is important to stay objective and not let my opinions take control of what is right and what is wrong.
Trying to step back and not control certain situations is a hard thing to do. I have learned not to worry about the outcome of situations because I believe everything works out the way it is supposed. I also believe that everything happens for a reason, so if the outcome is not the one you wanted, then there is a lesson to be learned from that. Also, talking to people close to you can help you from worrying about things that are insignificant.
I have no problem letting go when a situation is out of my control. I do, however, have an issue with realizing when a situation is out of my control. I do not give up easily when something is important to me, and I will constantly try to find different approaches to fix a problem without stopping to consider if it is out of my control. Going forward, I need to start taking a few steps back and evaluating these situations so that I don’t get caught up in trying to control what I cannot, or should not, attempt to control.