In life, there are things a which you can directly control and there are also things which you can’t. Very simply, inside your circle of influence are the things which you can control, whereas inside your circle of concern are things which you can’t.
As an example, let’s say before the lockdown rules were put in place, you went to the cinema and as you walked through the entrance you see a massive queue, at least 10 mins long! At this point the voice inside your head starts yapping away saying things like ‘you’re so stupid for not arriving earlier! You’re going to be late for the film by at least 10 mins! Why don’t they have more tills open! This is the worst!’ and the voice just carries on and on. In this situation, no matter how long you spend ruminating on the fact that the queue is 10 mins long, you’re never going to be able to change that. The queue is something which is outside your direct control and therefore it’s something the goes in your circle of concern. Now, the idea is that you want to shrink your circle of concern, and grow your circle of influence, and you do this by consciously shifting your attention away from the things you can’t control control and towards the things which you can.
An example of how this would look would be in the same situation, you see the long queue, but you say to yourself ‘Okay, I’m going to be waiting in line for at least 10mins. However, I’m going to choose to listen to my audiobook and respond to a few emails, so that this 10 mins isn’t completely wasted’. Or you might say to yourself ‘Next time I want to go to the cinema, I know that it’s not a good idea to go to the cinema in the busy part of town during rush-hour, and instead I’ll go to a different cinema, perhaps even at a different time when its more quiet’. So here, you’re focusing on things you can control – how you choose to spend your time whilst waiting in the queue, and how you could more effectively plan in future in terms of time and location. Here, you’re focusing on things within your circle of influence.
Let me be the first to say that doing this is not easy. It needs to be worked at. Sometimes things don’t go according to plan and that can be frustrating. However, the more that you train yourself to think in this way; that is – becoming more aware of the thoughts you are having and then choosing to focus your thoughts on things you can control, it will bring you a greater sense of inner power and as well as a sense of forward progression in your life. After practising this for a while, you will become someone who isn’t just in reaction, being put at the effect of all these changing environmental stimuli and instead, you will become someone who is in proactivity, who is at the cause and who is able to adapt and navigate through changing circumstances are lot more easily.
This is an important lesson to soak-up right now because there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus crisis. You might be asking yourself questions like ‘how long will it be until I go back to work? How will the economy be affected? When am I next going to be able to go on holiday?’. With these types of questions swimming about in our heads, it’s easy to feel anxious, scared or uncertain about the future, because there is so much simply out of our control.
If this resonates with you, start sorting through your thoughts, placing them in either your circle of concern or circle of influence; write them down on paper if it makes it easier. Once you’ve done that, start consciously shifting your attention towards the things that you can control, and away from the things that you can’t, and you’ll start feeling a lot better for it.