Control the things you can

Control is Serentiy

Accept the things you can’t….

Jedi were renown for having control over their emotions and staying in control seemingly when others were losing their minds. They were calm and completely at peace but behind that serenity was the potential for decisive action. Jedi were also adept at manipulating and controlling the Force with their minds and at times also controlling the minds of others through “mind-tricks”.

One could almost describe a Jedi Master as a sort of Warrior-Monk Stoic, completely devoid of inner disturbance and completely present in a state of equanimity and purpose amidst a raging storm. Of course this is fiction and only an ideal, not reality. The truth is that few but the most disciplined practitioners and adherents of a monastic order could achieve the same measure of internal emotional control and then they would still be subject to the vagaries of the world. Very few people would be able to achieve the same level of self control as a Jedi Master.

The main difference between a Jedi and an ordinary person is their ability and the wisdom to discern what resides within their control and what lies outside of it and to respond accordingly. Jedi have the serenity to accept the things they cannot change and the courage to change the things they can. More importantly a Jedi will know the difference between the two and reflect that in their decisions and actions.

It is important to remind ourselves that despite our best efforts sometimes we do not achieve our goals in life for a number of reasons. Life is not so simple and often the path is convoluted and beset with traps and pit falls most of which we have no control over. Awareness of control is important as it will lead to acceptance of failure and humility in success and ultimately a greater sense of serenity and peace.

What is intrinsic to you is what you have control over. Your thoughts, actions, words, motivation and your response to emotional stimuli ultimately reside entirely within your sphere of control. As you move from your inner world to your outer world your degree of control over your world diminishes. You have partial control over your health but not complete control, you exert partial control over the behaviors of people close to you but ultimately every person has free will to choose how they think and feel.

Remote events whether local or internationally happen with or without our consent, the planet revolves on its axis and orbits around the sun and the cosmos evolves and expands utterly indifferent to our existence or cares. Take some time to appreciate the difference between what is within your control, what is partially within your control and what is completely outside of your control. Act with purpose where you can and be prepared to accept the outcomes with equanimity and grace.

Grant me serenity

To accept the things I cannot change

Courage to change the things I can

And wisdom to know the Difference

The serenity prayer is one of the most profound prayers written and it one that I read daily as part of my 12 Step practice in acceptance. I understand that I cannot expect the world to revolve around me, I accept that things may not go the way I plan. However what choices I do have is how I will respond to life every moment. I know that in the course of the day I will feel a wide range of emotions some of which may feel unpleasant however I still decide how I respond to and act out those emotions. Do I allow myself to feel anger? Yes, as a human being I will feel anger or disgust in certain circumstances, however I choose how to respond to those emotions. I can lash out or attack another person or I can remain calm and explore the emotion, allow it to take its course and then choose how to act in an appropriate manner.

As an active alcoholic I had no realistic grasp on emotions and rarely applied control. In addition I had no concept of the fact that some things were not in my control and I lived in a false reality where it was normal that the world should make allowances for me. Of course this continued in early sobriety when I thought that being dry gave me some sort of entitlement to be treated special and I would rebel when people did not conform to my expectations. Society does not function for me, I am a part of society and a small part at that. Over time I began to realize that I needed to focus on what I can change (myself) and do my best with what I had partial control over. I have to be prepared to accept and let go of the things I have no control over at all.

Understanding our limited influence, the impermanence of our impression upon the world and the fleeting amount of time we have to spend in the material plane within our limited bodies is both humbling and liberating. We realize that we are a minuscule part of the whole which makes up the Universe, that we are each a single beautiful note within the expanse of the grand symphony of life. The part of the whole. With your feet planted firmly on the ground ask yourself these three questions as it applies to what is happening in this moment, in your life and with what you hope to achieve:

  1. What is in my control?
  2. What is outside of my control?
  3. What are my choices and how do I act?

Then go out and act and do so with mindfulness, purpose and single-minded intent.

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