Finding a Sense of Control Amidst the Uncontrollable

If this year has taught me anything, it is that there is a lot of stuff I cannot change. That realization has brought on frequent feelings of powerlessness, helplessness and frustration. It has also sometimes brought about anger, sadness and a downright desire to just throw my hands up in the air and say, “forget it all!”

2020: The Year of Uncertainty

For most of us, this year has brought with it an onslaught of new stressors that could be enough to take the most positive, happy, successful, highly functioning person and throw them into a tailspin of despair.

So, I ask myself, what does that mean for the person who was already depressed or suicidal, struggling to pay for food or rent, coping with past traumas or trapped in an abusive relationship?

I am privileged. I am educated.  I am employed. I have family and friends who I can rely on for unconditional love and support. But lately, even I have felt that the addition of any new stressor might just become the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

If you are reading this and feeling stressed or overwhelmed, I wish I could give you a hug. I wish I could tell you that everything will be ok, and that tomorrow will be better. But sadly, I cannot guarantee that for you or for myself.

Controlling What We Can

I can, however, guarantee that while we do not have control over much of what happens to us, we do have control over one thing for sure. We have control over how we respond and react to what happens.

I had to remind myself of this the other day, as I walked outside during an already stressful week, to find that someone had broken into my car.  As I waited for the police to arrive, I found myself wanting to scream, cry, pull my hair out, throw my hands up into the air and say, “forget it all!”

I did cry a little and I may have let out a small scream at one point.

But then I chose to change my response. I chose to breathe. I chose to count my blessings and to remember that, “it could always be worse.”

Looking Forward

If you are reading this, that means that you are alive. You are here and you are breathing. You are making the decision to keep going. You may not be able to change most things in this world, but you can choose to keep going and keep breathing. You can choose to put one foot in front of the other. You can choose to try to make it to the next minute, the next hour, the next day, week and hopefully the next year.

As you approach 2021, please remember you have surely grown from the trials and tribulations you have faced this year. It may not feel like it, but you are stronger and wiser. While we can’t control what 2021 brings, we can control how we react to it. I am going to try to react with kindness, humor, strength, serenity and compassion for myself and others. I am going to consistently work to find the “the wisdom to know the difference,” between what is and what isn’t in my control.

I hope you will do the same.  And I hope you know that YOU DON’T HAVE TO KEEP GOING ALONE. If that last straw has in fact started to break you, please know that professional support is available.

CHRIS 180 is here to help, just give us a call at (404) 324-4190 or email counselingcenter@chris180.org to schedule an appointment.

Kristen Hendrix, LPC, is a CHRIS 180 School-Based Mental Health Therapist for Atlanta Public Schools. Learn more about our School-Based Mental Health program by visiting CHRIS180.org/schoolbasedservices.

Kristen Hendrix
kristen.hendrix@chris180.org
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