The Dichotomy of Control
The solution to your issues (maybe even all of them)
Something weird happened to me as I wrote this
I often have a process that helps me align my thoughts and publish them every week, but for some odd reason, this took much longer. There were times when I thought I reached the end, but after looking at everything, I wasn’t happy. I felt like more could be done to better express myself. So, I had to scrap my work and start again — more times than I ever had to.
But you know what’s odd here? This concept is not new to me, it lives with me every day as I live my life. I have so many experiences that I could use to explain myself, yet here I sit, finding it difficult to put my thoughts into words.
It’s unsettling for me to be here. I can’t avoid thinking that I could have better spent my time over the last week. And there are parts of me that took this personally and made me question my ability to write. It’s quite interesting to see things escalate like this, so instead of succumbing to it, I think it’s best I use it.
Because there are things that we can control and things that we can’t control in this life
You see, I often like things to happen in a certain way. Of the few things that I have for myself, there’s a part of me that craves certainty in them, that uses them to make sense of life and learn about myself at the same time. But even in these things that I have for myself, there are things I cannot control(as much as I would like for things to be otherwise).
I first learned about the dichotomy of control from some of the greatest philosophers, like Marcus Aurelius and Epictetus. They both mention that there are things that are beyond our control, beyond our power and we should respect that otherwise, as I have learned, we tend to lose control over ourselves, our happiness and our peace — we lose control of ourselves.
But we have to be careful, especially if we have desires
It’s inevitable to want things for ourselves. A new job, a better relationship, or a good night’s rest — it depends on us really. And there’s nothing wrong with wanting things for ourselves, but we can’t expect to want things and not suffer for them, you know, that’s an unrealistic expectation for ourselves — we have to suffer to get what we want.
But how we face our sufferings is important — we can complain, we can blame, but will that get us what we want in this world today? No, not really, we have to take responsibility for ourselves if we want Progress.
And one of the best ways to do this, at least from my experience, is to focus on what we can control instead of what we can’t — because it’s not always easy to get what we want, but if we focus more on what we can control, that often changes the odds in our favor.
Because we have the power of our influence
We’re able to influence the things that we can’t control and if it is possible, change them in our favor. We can convince people to do things they usually wouldn’t do by themselves. We can change odds in our favor and achieve something that we believed was impossible. We can do amazing things with our influence, if we take the time to grow our power over the things we want.
But our influence is the tricky part — we use it regardless of whether or not we think we use it. And our influence can be backed by good or bad intentions. Think about how our happiness can make others happy and our sadness can make others sad. Sometimes people do this intentionally or unintentionally. It’s difficult to tell really, but that’s a story for another time.
My point here is that we can get the things that we truly desire, the things that we want for ourselves if we take the time to grow our influence over them, by committing to them and working to change the odds in our favor. We can have some control over the things that we cannot control with the influence we have over them.
Focusing on what you can control will help you solve your issues and get what you want
I truly am convinced that learning to see the difference between what we can control and can’t control in every situation will help us solve a lot of our issues, maybe even all of them. It helped me forgive(not forget[I need things to keep me humble]) a lot of things from my past that I can’t change, it helped me be a better athlete, it helped me be better in my relationship — it helped me be a better person (and it helped me finish this piece).
Because it got me focusing on myself and what I could do to change and improve my life. It helped me take responsibility instead of sitting idle in self-pity. It helped me focus on the only thing that I can control in every situation, which is myself.
And it can help you with the same. Your emotions may try to convince you otherwise, but once they settle, you will see this for yourself.
And over time it will only help you become a better person too
Because instead of wasting more time blaming the world for the things that don’t go your way, instead of staying in self-pity, you will invest more of your time in progress, in what you can do to improve your life.
So, teach yourself to recognize the difference between what you can control and what you can’t — because life’s adversity will always find you, but this will help you navigate your way through and make progress towards your version of success.
“You have power over your mind — not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” - Marcus Aurelius
Invest in your existence,