There are three solutions to every problem: accept it, change it or leave it.
If you can’t accept it, change it. If you can’t change it, leave it.
— Unknown Author
Today’s lesson is possibly one of the most important self-compassion topics I can think of.
In fact, I wrote today’s post before I learned I, along with 1.43 million other Americans, could have been affected by the Equifax breach, and it’s times like this—with security breaches and hurricanes—that accepting and managing our helplessness over others, certain circumstances, and outcomes is an imperative skill to learn.
Before I go any farther on the topic, I want to state loud and clear.
You are never helpless. You always have choice.
However, there are things in life that we do not have control over—other people’s anger, losing a loved one, layoffs, natural disasters—to name a few examples.
Today’s Self-Compassion Mentor, Dr. Margaret Paul, states:
It’s not easy to accept that we do not have control over how people choose to treat us, how they treat themselves, how they treat others. We don’t have control over whether someone we love is going to take care of themselves or not. Or whether they are going to be open to us or not. We don’t have control over other people’s intention. Whether they are going to be angry or mean or abusive or self-destructive. We don’t have that control, and so we are helpless in the face of it.
And when you accept that—when you really accept that sometimes you can influence people but you can’t control them. Influencing comes from living by example, and that is very different than controlling others.
So it’s really important to accept our lack of control over others, and when we do, then it’s equally as important to move into self-compassion for our feelings of helplessness over another, recognizing that this is a really hard feeling. It’s imperative to embrace our feelings with compassion.
Now I do want to also share the good news. There are several things we do have control over.
Best selling author, Jack Canfield, teaches—
You have control over three things in your life— the thoughts you think, the images you visualize, and the actions you take.
So while there are things we don’t have control over, like whether our house will be affected by a natural disaster or how any angry drivers will react on the road, we can control how we treat ourselves and others when things aren’t going well.
We can learn to take loving care of ourselves in the face of what we are powerless over. Learning to accept and manage the very difficult feelings of helplessness over others and over life circumstances will give you the inner peace you need in times of difficulty.
This brings me to today’s Self-Compassion Challenge:
Per Dr. Paul—I suggest when people realize that they are frustrated and angry usually that’s coming from trying to control something that you can’t control. That’s why the Serenity prayer is about being serene by accepting that we can’t control everything and everyone. When we are not peaceful we try and control what we can’t control, and once you accept your lack of control and your lack of helplessness over others and outcomes you can create inner peace. It’s helpful to put your hand on your heart and name the feeling—I’m feeing helpless over (fill in the blank). Doing this allows the feeling of helplessness to move through you so peace can fill your heart.
If you want more information about today’s topic, I highly recommend the article, The Challenge of Accepting Our Helplessness Over Others, the webinar, How To Lovingly Manage Helplessness Over Others ($4.95 on Dr. Margaret’s website), and this short video on the Six Steps of Inner Bonding.
All my love,
Check out the entire 30-Day Self-Compassion Challenge
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Featured Image: “Autumn” by Theilr on Flickr
Today’s post was written in Malaga, Spain.