I’ve lived in the UK long enough to be used to the weather by now. If it’s not wet it’s cold or worse, it’s wet and cold. It’s a constant of life over here. Yet, faithfully and quite pathetically, day after day I grumble about it to anyone who’ll listen.
‘It’s so cold’
‘The sky’s so grey’
‘I can’t stand the rain’
My ‘whine’ list goes on and on.
I end up in a bad mood and feeling miserable. I don’t want to go anywhere or do much of anything.
Yet the weather is the weather.
It’s just one of those things we have no control over (at least not yet). I can’t change it so why do I focus on how horrible it is? Why do I persist in wishing it was different? Why do I waste precious time and energy making myself feel bad about it?
Maybe I’ve reacted that way for so long that it’s become a habit. Like some sort of reflex action, out of my control. But that’s not strictly true is it? Because my reaction to the weather is within my control although I tend to act like it isn’t.
Who’s really in control?
Complaining about the weather may seem trivial but it’s just one example of the many places in our lives where we give up control. We allow ourselves to react without conscious thought. We forget that we do have power over what we think and how we react to what happens around us. We forget that often we can choose to respond differently. Our misery, anger, sadness? A lot of the time they’re of our own making.
‘You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.’ Marcus Aurelius
Stoic philosophy teaches us that true freedom comes when we understand the power we have over our minds, when we learn to control our thoughts, actions and emotions.
So I complain about the weather but the weather isn’t the problem. It’s what I think about it that’s colouring my attitude and affecting my emotions and behaviour. The good news is that’s something I can change.
You have a choice
As you go through life there’ll be plenty of times when things happen that you can’t control. A car cuts you off in traffic, your flight is cancelled at the last minute, a trusted friend lies about you. Sometimes you just have to accept that there’s nothing you can do about those things.
What you can do though is this:
- Get clear on what is within your control and what isn’t.
- Focus on those things that you can control.
- Realise that you can choose your response to what happens.
- Pay attention to those events that normally trigger an emotional reaction and learn to pause instead of acting.
- Respond with deliberation and consideration.
It doesn’t mean that you will never be ‘out of control’ again but it’s a reminder that you don’t always have to be at the mercy of your impulses. You have the power to choose.
So it’s Friday afternoon and I’m looking out the window at grey clouds and a steady drizzle of rain. The weather report forecasts another week of the same.
As I think about the weekend ahead, will I react with my typical gloom and misery, stay at home and curse the weather? Or will I choose a different response this time?
Whichever I choose it’s good to know I can.
Now over to you.
Do you find yourself complaining about things outside your control?
Do you tend to react rather than respond?
How can you take control today?
Let me know in the comments.