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In recovery and personal development, it’s enormously important to be accountable for your goals, values, and progress. 

It’s equally important to be realistic about what you can and can’t control. What you can and can’t affect. What you are and are not responsible for. 

If you look around, you see a lot of people lurching to one extreme or the other. 

Some people consider themselves responsible for EVERYTHING that happens in their world. 

You see this a lot with people who are interested in the “Law of Attraction,” which is the idea that humans create their circumstances by what they think, focus on, and visualize. 

Adherents of the Law of Attraction often express that life conditions are mostly, if not solely, the direct result of what people have “allowed” to dominate their consciousness. Thus, if someone is experiencing abundance, it’s because they’ve been focusing on and expecting abundance; or if a person is experiencing lack, it’s because they’ve been focusing on lack. 

I’ll be the first to verify that our focus is enormously important. 

But I don’t think it’s necessarily because our focus “attracts” either abundance or lack. 

Rather, it’s my observation that our focus impacts how we interpret the world around us; what is important or relevant in the deluge of information and stimuli with which we are flooded daily; and what we’re willing to do (or even feel ourselves capable of doing) with our time and energy on any given day. 

In other words, our focus is key— but it’s not our focus that does the work for us. 

We do the work. Our focus determines what we’re willing and able to do. 

I don’t believe there is a universal law or principle that endows us with total control over what we experience. 

I believe that there are things that are out of our control— notably other people’s actions, reactions, thoughts, and feelings. 

As much as we need to take responsibility and be accountable for our contribution to our worlds, we also have to accept— embrace, even— the fact that we are never, ever going to be COMPLETELY in control of our world. 

That goes for the world outside of our heads…and the world inside of our heads. 

This idea— that we’re not, and never will be, in complete control of our worlds— upsets some people. 

(It upsets a lot of people, actually. We humans, as a species, tend to be a bunch of control freaks. Who knew?) 

The thing is: the fact that we’re NOT in complete control of our world— that we never, ever will be, no matter how hard we try— is actually the good news. 

Do you realize how stressful— and boring— our lives would be if we had COMPLETE control over our world? 

Much of what makes life worth living happens outside of our control. 

When somebody else falls in love with us— not because we “made” them, but because who we are resonates powerfully with who they are and what they need— that is an event that is profoundly outside of our control. 

When somebody else finds something we wrote or said valuable or life changing, we may have influenced that— but there is no way to guarantee that everything, or anything, you say or write is ever going to be life changing for anyone (trust me, I’ve looked into it). That is very much outside of our control…and yet one of the most rewarding experiences we can have. 

Many of the situations which we find fun, interesting, surprising, or rewarding, depend upon things happening TO us, over which we do not have control…and us marshaling our resources, experiences, knowledge, and skills, to respond effectively to that thing that happened TO us. 

Trust me: you don’t WANT to be in control of everything in your life. 

What you DO want is to have confidence in your ability to adapt and respond to the things that happen to you. 

It is in adapting and responding to what life throws at us that we grow, have fun, and have the chance to experience mastery and joy. 

Being realistic about what we can and cannot control or affect is not a bummer. 

It’s a life saver. 

 

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