Aaargh! You’re not in control of your life? What will you do?

You don’t have to be a ‘control freak’ to find it a little disconcerting that you can’t control things or make things happen the way you want to. Especially if you know what you want to achieve with your life and have a whole plan for how you might get there. Plus, there’s the fact that most of us are used to being able to decide how we want our burger, buy anything we want in just about any colour with next day delivery, and a million other ways we are given individual choices so that we’re meant to feel we are squarely in control of how we want our life to be.

Compared to this illusion of control, real life can feel like you’re in the back of a car driven by your scatty university friend who thinks looking out the front of the car is an occasional hobby. You can barely do anything about it, and it drives you (literally, in this case) crazy.

Some people love this unpredictable, casual, spontaneous life and so change or lack of control doesn’t bother them so much. Even these people get frustrated sometimes when they’re trying to do something particular and life drops something unhelpful in their lap, though. And it takes a lot of self-control to remain calm when something is happening that you can’t do anything about. Our instinct is to panic and rush around trying to make it right.

But what if you can’t? Well, on some level this has to be OK with us. Things that we can’t change are just that – things we can’t change. Putting energy into wondering how we would like to change them, or how we wish we had done something different so that this would never have happened, takes energy away from the things you can change – like deciding what to do next, now that things are as they are. We need to accept the way things are right now, and think about what we can do.

Actually, it’s about finding a balance between taking responsibility for your life (not blaming everything on some external factors or other people), but not going so far as expecting to be able to actually control things. Control what you can, and don’t beat yourself up when something happens that you couldn’t possibly know or change. And – this is hard to do. But easier than trying to do what nobody in the world can do.