We like to think of ourselves as the Great Lords (and Ladies) of, if not the entire Universe, at the very least our own lives. But sometimes things just fall out of our control. Our projects get taken over, our bodies do not listen to us and even our lives become somebody else’s, because they are clearly not ours at this point. We become orphans to our duties and responsibilities, to our likes and hobbies, to all the little things that define us. How to escape that? Is there anything we can do when we cannot do anything anymore?
I have been there but I hope that you have not been there too, and that this is the most pointless and unrelatable thing you have read in your life. Feeling like we’ve lost ourselves must be by far the worst in the land of lost hope and murdered dreams and that is not a fate I would wish on anyone, not even my sworn enemies (although I do not have any of these, so…). I still remember very well the last time I thought I had lost myself completely, living a life designed by others in the form of diets, meds that made me too tired to think or focus, let alone go anywhere and habits enforced on me for my own good. Sure, it felt nice to be cared for, but there was nothing mine in it, and it truly felt like every second of my life has been prescribed and no choices will ever be mine to take again.
But feeling like we cannot do anything is not always that dramatic – it comes in small doses, like losing control over important work-related issues or watching a loved one descend into a relationship that is bound to burn them alive. These may not be that extreme, yet all still remain on top of my list of things I do not want to feel.
I wish I could give you a golden solution to these – but I do not have one. I still think most of these I survived by purely by luck and the loving support of people around me. All I have are a few tips on how to make it, well, at least more bearable.
Whatever you do, do not play the waiting game
If we feel like we have lost control over our lives and we cannot do anything useful, the last thing we need is to get stuck in between on top of that.
Counting the hours till our life is ours again is probably the worst decision we can make. Come on, you know it. Counting the hours down until anything not only makes time run much slower, but also makes us frustrated with everything that happens before we reach the final line. The in between is a horrible land where nothing can be good, because it is not the desired future.
Not being in control anymore, even if one is not a control freak, is bad enough without this. It achieves nothing and can cause a lot of misery.
As hard as it can be, we should then strike to at least try to enjoy the moment. Sure, this bit of life may be… less than pleasant, but there are still other things, aren’t they? More often than not it is our attitude that blocks us from finding a more bearable way of surviving the wait.
When I feel hopeless, I do jigsaws.
One can tell I have been pretty much alright recently as I don’t even have a jigsaw started; well-done me! But I cannot deny that for me jigsaws are pretty much a go-to safe space, something I can occupy my mind with when things go wrong or when I feel like all I have left is to wait till other people take my decisions for me.
I believe everyone should strive to find a hobby or place or anything like this in their lives. Something to do when we cannot do anything else anymore.
Sure, it will achieve absolutely nothing. None of my problems will get solved by me just getting there, matching different shades of black together. But in a situation where nothing can be achieved anyway, it will at least take my mind off the situation and let me forget about my worries for a while.
All worrying would achieve is be making me feel worse; yet my mind is not even nearly rational enough to just turn off worries willy-nilly. A good distraction does it for me though, a really good one. Not everything can take my mind off troubles (unless it is very fluffy and is a kitten; any kitten can cheer me up in a second). So finding this one thing is really, really important.
Find something you can control
Even when our lives are falling into pieces we cannot recognize anymore, there are still things we can do. 9 times out of 10 we would dismiss them as trivial and not worth our attention in comparison to the troubles we’re going through, but maybe this is just the wrong angle to approach it.
We want to take our lives back by storm, here and now, all at once, starting with the things that are most precious to us. Yet this often cannot be achieved, no matter how much wishful thinking we do. Taking control of small things can help us through this process not only because it does serve as a distraction as well, but also because it can make us feel like we are winning at something again.
Usually these small victories go unnoticed, but when we face failure after failure after failure, they can provide quite a confidence boost – and sometimes that is all we need to survive the worst.
Something as irrelevant as choosing what to wear or growing a potted plant can become our way back into life. It will be, after all, something ours and ours alone. When we cannot do anything about our problems, we will still be able to do something about these and it may just make us this much more ours again.
Make sure you’re not looking for excuses
The last point I want to make may be way less supporting and caring, but I believe it is an important thing to point out. I am as guilty of this as anyone else; and although I try to avoid it, I will probably be catching myself on it for the rest of my life.
I am talking, of course, about shifting the blame.
Sometimes things feel out of our control because we are refusing to take responsibility for them. It’s as simple and as difficult as it can be. We blame everyone – family, friends, work, the Universe – because we feel dissatisfied with the way things are and do not want to point the finger at ourselves.
True, there are moments in life when we cannot do anything, but there are also moments when we can, but we refuse to acknowledge it. So before we give up on fighting for the life and future we want, we should always ask ourselves: have I done everything in my power to turn things around?
Me. Not him or her. Are the events really out of control now or do I want them to appear out of my control to avoid taking any actions myself?
The reality pill can be bitter, but although the pain will be sharp and intense, it will be short; living the life we don’t want and feeling like the world has designed it for us, while denying any responsibility for it, will hurt us way more in the long term; I assure you.
When there is nothing we can do for ourselves anymore, I guess a good distraction would be to do something for others – like girls who would like to learn to code!
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