I’ve had a lot of time to think over the past few days. And most of it has been governed thoughts about things I cannot control. Decisions that I have no say in but affect me and the people I love greatly.
My thoughts fall into two very simple and distinct categories: things I have control over and things I don’t.
I’m coming to grips with the knowledge that there are certain places where I cannot affect change. And it sucks.
I’ve had to dig deep (I really hate that phrase, but it’s true) to figure out how to navigate that part of me who knows that as much as I want to, there are some things I will never be able to control.
The plan? Step into the pain and the discomfort and let it mold you into who you are supposed to be. And did I mention, it sucks?
So how do you move forward? After the molding? How do you let the hard things roll off of your back instead of placing them firmly in your rucksack until the weight of it all renders you incapable of moving?
You give them their own rucksack.
You divide them into the things you can control and the things you can’t. Carry the things you can and leave the other behind. Most important? You keep putting one foot in front of the other.
The contents of my own rucksacks are as follows:
Things I CAN’T control
- World leaders and the things that they say and do.
- The communities my students live in.
- The rush to put anything and everything on the news (and this goes for all of the media, not one side or the other) rather than weighing if it’s A. True and B. Serves a legitimate purpose.
- The enormous divide that has turned into a canyon between people who live in the United States.
- The poverty, violence and substance abuse that exists in my community and many others around this country.
Things I CAN control
- The things I say and do and how I react to the other stuff.
- Making sure that the seven hours my students spend in my building are filled with love, safety and the knowledge that they matter.
- Making a conscious decision about what gets valuable real estate in my brain.
- Talking with people who’s beliefs may be different than mine. Note I said talking “with” not “to.” And listening more than I talk.
- Making sure that I am living the healthiest life I can in body, mind, and spirit so I can share with others who need it.
There’s a lot of uncertainty in this world right now. I know it. You know it. And there’s not a lot we can do about much of it. But the most ineffective thing we can do right now is to worry. Worry won’t change anything at all. All it does is deprive us of peace, strength, and focus.
What we need to do is take action that makes sense. Volunteer somewhere for a group that means something to you and where you can see the change you need to see. Learn something new. Perhaps a skill that will bring you and others joy. Work in a local school. See the beauty in the children who go there and the gratitude of the teachers who teach. There are so many ways to take effective action that can give you all the feels.
I saw a quote the other day that said (and I’m paraphrasing so I can’t really call it a quote) to interrupt worrying thoughts with “What if things work out?” Most of the time, when I worry, I usually go to the worst-case scenario so this was really powerful to me.
What if we combined action and, in those times when worry enters our mind, what if we changed the narrative from the negative to the positive? Could that make a difference moving forward?
I know that there will be curveballs but I can’t catch them if I’m sitting in the stands watching and worrying about the game. Come with me. Strap on your cleats, get your glove on, and step onto the field and into the sun. The team needs you now more than ever. And always remember, your power lies in the way you respond to the call.