Work & Career
You’ve Got This: Mental Tricks to Feel in Control When Everything Is Going Wrong
You can’t control everything in life, but you do have a say in your own actions. When you feel like your life has turned to chaos, here’s how to regain a healthy perspective.
Acknowledge what you can’t control
Accept the things you can’t control, and use that energy toward changing the things you can. You have no say over traffic, your boss’s mood, or the economy, so don’t let them control your own happiness. Make a list of the uncontrollable things in your life, and post it on your fridge or computer. Then when those troubles arise, focus on reacting to them with patience and levelheadedness.
Self-assess the changes you can make
Whenever you find yourself in a tight place, describe what you would have done differently in a journal. For example, you get reprimanded at work, don’t beat yourself up for it, but do acknowledge that it’s not necessarily because of bad luck or a mean boss. Ask yourself what went wrong, and whether keeping better track of deadlines or researching more thoroughly could prevent a similar future mistake.
Make a change for the better
If you’re feeling down about things that have gone wrong, actively make something else right. Commit to exercising four days a week, pay bills you’ve been putting off, or call your mom like you’ve been meaning to.
When you feel like your life is getting out of control, a bit of clutter can make things feel even more overwhelming. Clean out a drawer or closet to regain your sense of control. Here’s what highly organized people do every morning.
De-stress before addressing problems
Take time to lie down, drink a cup of tea, or listen to soothing music before you try to tackle a tough problem. Freeing yourself of negative emotions is the first step to controlling an outside issue with a level head. Start with these drug-free ways to stop anxiety.
Learn a new skill
There’s a lot you can’t control in life, but you can control how you spend your time. Pick up a new hobby, and channel your energy into an enjoyable pastime like knitting or kayaking. Here are the best ways to maximize your free time so you really enjoy it.
Make a to-do list
When you’re feeling overwhelmed, make a list of all the chores and shopping you need to accomplish. Then set a plan for the date and time you’ll accomplish each one, along with a time limit for how long you can spend. Instead of feeling pressured to clean the whole house in one day, you can do different rooms throughout the week, and the time limit will keep you working efficiently to meet your deadline.
Live in the moment
Even if you can’t control an outcome, you can control an individual motion or task. Focus on doing your best in the moment rather than worrying about its long-term results.
Give yourself a pep talk
When you need to hear an optimistic message, practice positive self-talk. Tell yourself messages like “I’ll get through this” or “I just need a few minutes, but then I can come up with a plan.” These awesome tips to boost self confidence really work.
Fake it ’til you make it
Perception of control can be just as important as control itself. For example, people can usually handle a hot room better if they have the option of changing the temperature. Figure out a few small things you can do to gain just a little more control over the situation, and you might find yourself with a better overall mindset.
Do some ironing
Ironing is a mindless task that gives immediate, visible results. Turning a crumpled mess into a crisp item of clothing will feel satisfying, and that accomplished feeling will carry over to other areas of your life.
Train yourself not to be in control
Build up your tolerance to chaos with little instances you can’t control. Have your partner take the wheel if you’re the usual driver, pay your bills, or make weekend plans without asking for your input. You’ll learn to accept that sometimes you won’t have control—and that’s OK. Here are tricks to calming down when you’re angry.