What’s it all about?
How are you dealing with your every-day life now when the circumstances have changed drastically? How are you feeling while watching the coronavirus news tracking the number of confirmed cases and expecting new measures that will additionally narrow your manoeuvring space? Are you ready to work and live online? If you’re looking for the answers to What’s exactly happening to me right now? and What can I do about it and how? you’ve come to the right place. Search below what traps we usually fall into and try out practical advice you’re going to find. Find out how to deal with uncontrollable circumstances and arm yourself with two powerful strategies – surrender and active coping.
Recognize the traps we fall into
Trap number 1: I believe that strong self-control and control always help
Let’s be honest – we waste large amounts of time and energy on things we can neither change nor control. As far as others are concerned, although a certain level of influence and control may apply, in most cases we have very little control over how others think or how they react and behave. Even our own health is not entirely under our control – although we may eat healthy, exercise frequently and do everything else to be in perfect shape, there are many other factors that determine our health including genetic dispositions, involvement in accidents, etc.
If we try too hard not to lose our self-control in uncontrollable circumstances that are out of the ordinary and control other people and situations when it’s not possible, we’ll end up frustrated.
Scientific studies also confirm the dangers of trap 1
Trap number 2: I should better focus on and prepare myself for the worst
Plagued by thoughts and images of disastrous outcomes that in reality may never come to be, we become trapped in an endless process of „figuring it out“, which will stop us from doing what we actually can do. Of course, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t consider risks and dangers because we could end up in real trouble. We should and we will take them into consideration, but at the same time we should put our energy and effort into things within our power, instead of thinking about worst-case scenarios.
Trap number 3: I’d better not take any action at all. There’s nothing I could change.
This way of thinking could be very dangerous because we deny our responsibility. The responsibility and control are given to an outside source and feelings of helplessness typically emerge. If we decide to remain passive, we usually waste our energy on complaints and self-pity instead of taking action.
What should we do instead?
Instead of trying to increase levels of self-control and control of uncontrollable circumstances start managing yourself strategically. This ability is called self-regulation. Knowing how to regulate oneself means to recognize when self-control and control are desirable and when one should loosen up.
Effective strategies for dealing with uncontrollable circumstances
Now you’ll learn how to apply and combine two powerful strategies – surrender and active coping.
Strategy number 1 – Surrender
The uncontrollability of events, before corona virus, has been experienced by most people in life’s most extreme moments: car accidents, the death of a loved one, being stricken with a life-threatening disease, etc. Other, less extreme examples in which uncontrollability is experienced include the inability to deliberately fall asleep, the inability to influence what other people think and the inability to stop thoughts from occurring. If we try to control these, the result will often be counterproductive – we stay awake longer, and it’s getting more difficult to get rid of the unwanted thoughts. In other words, the solution here is not to exert more control, but less. Surrender to the uncontrollable and accept that there’s simply nothing you can do to change the situation.
Important to remember!
Surrender as a strategy differs from being overtaken by negative thoughts or being controlled by others. Being overtaken occurs without choice; surrendering is an active, intentional process; we agree to surrender. Moreover, surrendering also differs from giving up and losing hope. Surrender means letting go of unproductive efforts to control the uncontrollable while at the same time focusing on dealing with what lies within the boundaries of personal influence.
Strategy number 2 – Active coping
When there’s nothing you can do to change a given situation, this doesn’t mean that one can’t deal with the situation in an active way. Look for self-help techniques for crisis situations, such as resilience, anti stress gymnastics, stress management strategies, self-motivation and positive thinking. Luckily, you can find and master all these techniques online and by doing so you are doing exactly what the strategy number 2 suggests – you’re actively coping with the current situation.
Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation.
Learn how to think positively
Choose one of the stress management strategies…
- Sit on the edge of your chair.
- Intertwine your fingers behind your back.
- Lean forward and raise your arms slowly so that you feel your back stretching.
- Slowly take a deep breath and feel your chest rising.
- Hold your breath for 10-15 seconds.
- Breathe out and relax your shoulders, so that they are in the lower position and at a distance from your ears.
- Slowly relax your arms by your side.
- Bring your body back to the initial position.
- Repeat the exercise 5 times.
All the techniques mentioned will help you change the nature of the current situation and modify how you think and feel about it. If you engage in active coping, you rely upon your own resources to deal with the situation, have more options and don’t waste your energy on things you can’t change. It means that you choose to deal with emotions and feelings that are present, rather than trying to control the uncontrollable.
In social setting, coping actively means communicating about one’s feelings or emotions. Sharing them with others encourages empathy and builds quality relationships that we need more than ever.
The current situation reminds us that there are things beyond our control. This is the right moment to check how we manage such situation, to learn how to cope with them better and help ourselves and others. By applying the two powerful strategies – surrender and active coping and options they offer – you’ll be more successful at dealing with uncontrollable circumstances. Always bear in mind that regardless of our limited power of controlling things, there is always a choice how to deal with your emotions and the state of your body and mind that result from the uncontrollable circumstances.