There’s an old adage that goes along the lines of: “If your problem has a solution, then there’s no need to worry. And if your problem doesn’t have a solution, worrying won’t do you any good either.”
This can also apply to things in our lives that we don’t have control over, and never will.
While we have control over some of the things we’ll experience, the vast majority of them will simply happen, and we need to learn how to adapt when they do.
Below are some of the most common, uncontrollable issues you may encounter in life, and how to alter course and flow with them rather than being pulled under.
1. Aging, and the factors that accompany it.
We can use all the moisturizing creams in the world, and pour millions into cosmetic surgeries, but those things aren’t going to halt the aging process.
Everything breaks down, and that includes our bodies. It’s inevitable, and although we can slow down certain signs of aging by taking care of our health, we’re all going to lose hair where we want it, grow it where we don’t want it to be, and get lines and wrinkles where we’d rather be smooth.
There’s no point getting upset about aging. Each line is a testament to difficulties you’ve overcome, or wonderful times that made you smile.
Besides, aging can be a massive privilege: countless people who’ve died young have wished they had more time, even if they had to deal with eye creases and aching joints as a result.
Take care of yourself as best you can by eating well and exercising regularly, and you should stay strong and healthy well into your winter years. But accept that you cannot completely halt your own inevitable demise.
2. World affairs.
The average person has little to no control over the big things that happen around the world.
We “little people” who are neither multi-billionaires nor heads of state don’t have the resources to influence much of what goes on out there.
There are little things we can do to try to make a difference, such as voting, or donating to causes and charities that are important to us, but we can’t personally end all cruelty, suffering, or injustice.
Think globally, act locally, and try to be a decent person. If we all did that, the world would be a much better place.
3. Unexpected things that may bother you.
A lot of people get up in arms when they come across issues that make them uncomfortable. They’ll insist on “trigger warnings” to protect them from having unwanted thoughts or emotions, and insist that others change their words and behaviors to help them stay ensconced in their safe, cozy bubbles.
If you’re one of these people, sorry, but that’s unacceptable.
It’s up to every individual to develop vital coping mechanisms to deal with life’s eventual pratfalls. At any given moment, you may see or hear things that upset or offend you, and it’s not the world’s responsibility to prevent you from feeling discomfort.
If you find yourself so paralyzed by unexpected occurrences that you’re unable to function, then get yourself a good therapist.
It’s unreasonable to demand that others regulate your emotions for you, and furthermore, that expectation destroys your sovereignty. Essentially, you’re giving away your strength and putting your wellbeing in others’ hands.
When you learn how to step into your power, the things that trigger you now will simply roll off you in the future.
Everything changes, often when you least expect it.
When we’re in the throes of something wonderful, we often want to make it last forever. This goes for incredible relationships as well as fun excursions and delicious meals.
But those things are often wonderful *because* they’re ephemeral. By acknowledging their temporary nature, we appreciate them more authentically.
Sometimes, we don’t want to face changes because they’re unpleasant or unwanted. Our health will deteriorate over time, as will that of our loved ones. We don’t want to think about this type of change because it’ll hurt, but it’s important to be realistic about its inevitability.
The best way to avoid anxiety or frustration about inevitable change is to live in the present moment. Enjoy what’s going on as it’s happening, and flow with change rather than digging your heels in and fighting it.
You never know—what unfolds next might be easier than you expect. By fighting it, you’ll make the transition unnecessarily stressful when it could be as easy as breathing.
5. Other people’s life decisions.
Most of the greatest stresses I’ve experienced in my life so far have come from people wanting to control my personal decisions.
Similarly, I’ve occasionally annoyed others by encouraging them to take opportunities that they didn’t want.
The key is to understand that everyone’s life journey is their own. You might think that you know what’s best for those you care about, and it’s very possible that you’re right. But they have every right to make their own way in life, and if you love them, you’ll accept that—even if their interests bear no resemblance to what you’d rather have for them.
You don’t need to agree with or support their decisions, but you can refrain from insulting them or wishing them poorly. Instead, simply wish them happiness, and keep your eyes on your own path.
The exception to this situation is if their life is inextricably connected with yours. An example would be if you’re married to someone who makes questionable decisions that affect your financial stability. This is why it’s important to have your own, separate finances, belongings, etc. in case you ever need to draw upon them.
6. Your emotions.
People often talk about controlling one’s emotions, but this is a misnomer. Our emotions come up and dance around whether we want them to or not, and we can’t control that.
What we can control, however, is how we respond to them. We don’t need to act on everything we feel, nor do we even need to focus on these emotions as they arise.
Instead, we can simply acknowledge that they’re there, and let them go.
Consider part of the Bene Gesserit litany against fear from Frank Herbert’s “Dune” book:
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past, I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.
This can pertain to any emotion that we feel. We don’t have to give in to every emotion that comes up: we can simply let them pass through.
7. How other people feel or think about you.
It’s a simple truth that not everyone we meet will like us. Some will take issue with our life choices and appearance, while others will simply not mesh with our personalities.
We have absolutely no control over what others think or feel about us: all we can do is control how we behave toward them.
There’s no point in getting upset if people don’t like us or approve of our life choices. They don’t have to support our beliefs, and it doesn’t matter whether they validate anything we feel, think, or do.
You may think that you’re the best at what you do, but if others disagree with you, that doesn’t mean they’re wrong: they simply have their own opinions.
Not agreeing with you doesn’t make them “haters” because every individual is entitled to their own beliefs, and that includes how they think and feel about others.
If you don’t like how someone feels about you, then you have the option to stop interacting with them at any time. Or, simply stop caring about their opinions of you.
8. Intense weather/natural disasters.
Stuff can hit the fan when we least suspect it, and that includes intense weather situations.
So far, I’ve encountered forest fires, tornadoes, hurricanes, and flash flooding, and those are only some of the issues that Mother Nature can hurl our way.
When SHTF, you need to be able to keep your wits about you and adapt swiftly.
Although you can’t control the intense weather, you do have the ability to control your own actions. Most people will panic and start to spin in circles, so your best bet is to remain in the eye of the storm and be the keystone for others around you. Keep your calm, and sort things out.
One great way to ensure that you can flow with the unexpected is to always be prepared. Keep your electronics fully charged, and always keep them in the same place. For instance, make sure that your lighter is always in your left pocket, while your phone and charge cable are kept in the top pocket of your waterproof zip bag.
You may think this sounds a bit overkill, but preparedness will keep you from running around like a decapitated chicken when you get a hurricane warning.
We all have that friend who goes to the park on a blazing hot day and doesn’t bring a bottle of water: they’ve gotten so used to other people taking care of them that they don’t—or even refuse to—take care of themselves. This is a sure-fire sign of someone who will rapidly fall apart in an apocalyptic event.
Don’t be that person.
9. The future.
If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.
Seriously, it’s futile to get too attached to ideas about how any given situation will play out, because nothing will ever go according to plan.
That doesn’t mean that it’s pointless to make any plans at all, but rather that it’s best to not get attached to them playing out in a specific fashion.
Leave room to shift direction if and when you need to, and try not to get too worked up if your plans are derailed completely. Quite often, situations change in ways that ultimately serve us best, even if they don’t seem that way in the moment.
Many people get incredibly attached to their daydreams about how they want things to pan out. They envision their perfect job or relationship a certain way and are shattered if those daydreams get crushed.
If things don’t turn out the way you planned, then there’s a reason for it. You may not get what you want, but you’ll get what you need, and might be spared the misery that would have plagued you otherwise.
Many people fear death, and that fear holds undue influence over their daily lives. They may become so paralyzed by “what if?” thoughts that they find themselves unable to function. Hypochondria may set in, and their every action is calculated so as to ensure that they’re as safe as possible all the time.
The thing about death is that it can happen at any moment. I’m guessing that all of us have been surprised to lose someone close to us unexpectedly, and many of us have had at least one brush with death by the time we hit 30 or so.
Fearing death will only rob you of the day’s peace and happiness. We’re all going to die one day, and making peace with that is the best way to ensure that fear surrounding it has no hold over you.
Live your life in a way that ensures that you’ll have few regrets when your time comes, and appreciate every moment you have. By doing so, you’ll be able to walk across the ultimate threshold with grace—and even joy, perhaps—when the time comes.
As you can see, there’s no need to fight against any of these inevitable life experiences. The less you stress about them, the less they’ll affect you when they arise. Stay present, drink plenty of water, stretch daily, and enjoy every moment you have. All will be okay.