Is the Circle of No Control ruining your life? Get out of this unmentioned eighth circle of heck.
Have you ever come across an idea that completely changed the way you think about something? Was it something so simple and obvious, yet revolutionary at the same time? I found one of these ideas in the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens by Sean Covey. You may have heard of his father, (also named Sean Covey) who wrote The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
At the time I read this book, I was languishing in the Circle of No Control. You see, the house that was recently built next to us was too close. They literally poured the foundation in the wrong place, and now the house was too close to ours.
“How can you pour a foundation in the wrong place?” I asked myself over and over again, somehow willing the question to go out in the cosmos and find an appropriate person who would give me a plausible answer. “You can’t just eyeball these things! There are plans! Blueprints! You MAKE SURE you are putting the foundation in the right place before you pour it!”
I was mad. I was aghast at the utter lack of responsibility (or stupidity, if I am honest with my feelings) of the people who planted the house in the wrong place. I could not let it go. Every day, I was reminded of this home that was encroaching on our property.
You want to know what made things even worse? The house was made of brick! No other houses in the whole neighborhood were made of brick! It also had a different wood styling on the outside than any other house in the neighborhood. Whatever happened to visual cohesiveness and community unity? How did this design get approved? The house was built by the same builder as all the other houses in the neighborhood. I was just so confused and annoyed.
Any time somebody mentioned how close the house next door was, man, I went on and on about it.
I know what you’re thinking. “Melissa, you are stupid. Seriously? That is what you’re getting mad about?”
Well, it WAS what I was getting mad about until I learned about the Circle of No Control. I have NO CONTROL over the house next door. So why was I wasting my time, energy, and brain power fretting about it? Suddenly, I had the freedom to just let it go. It was like a ridiculous weight had been lifted off my brain. My body relaxed. I could free up my thoughts for more productive pursuits.
I started wondering what other things in the Circle of No Control were using up my time and energy. I started really thinking about what I had control over, and what I didn’t. I love the things listed in the Circle of No Control in the picture from the book (at the top of this post). Things like the color of our skin, the weather, past mistakes, and where we were born. To that, we should add the President of the United States, t.v. shows that get cancelled, what other people may or may not be saying or thinking about us, what others post on Facebook, and almost everything else in the world.
If I voted, I operated in the Circle of Control to choose the President. If I watched that t.v. show, I operated in the Circle of Control to help the ratings. If I was kind and know in my heart that I am a good person, I have operated in the Circle of Control. I control myself–that is all. I am proactive in my life, and I control my responses to what happens around me.
If I choose to live in the Circle of No Control, I am choosing to live life as a victim. I don’t want to be a victim. I want to act, not be acted upon. I want to focus on the things I can do something about, and not worry about the things I can’t. My gosh, the amount of worrying that goes on about things we have absolutely no control over!
Let’s not do this any more. Let’s not live in the Circle of No Control. Let’s not get angry in traffic we can’t control. Let’s not worry about the weather. Let’s not fret if we have to wait longer than we would like. Instead, let’s accept that things are what they are. And while we are waiting, let’s look around for some flowers.
What about the big house next door that is too close? Well, it is inhabited by a super nice family that brought us cupcakes. And I’m not bothered at all by it any more.
What’s in your Circle of No Control that you are going to give up? Tell me in the comments!
P.S. You may be interested in my series on happiness.