WTF Can You Control in Midlife?

WTF Can You Control in Midlife?

It's Not What You Expect!

Have you ever tried this…

Whilst sitting, lift your right foot and make clockwise circles. Now, add drawing the number 6 with your right hand. Your foot will change direction, and there is nothing you can do about it! Hysterical, right? This simple exercise serves as a whimsical reminder of life's inherent unpredictability. But beyond the amusement, it propelled me to ponder a more profound question: What can we truly control in midlife?

The answer might just reshape your perspective in unexpected ways. So, join me on this introspective journey as we unravel the mysteries of control, navigate the unpredictable curves of life, and discover the empowering art of being Sensibly Selfish. Trust me; you won't want to miss what awaits you at the end of this thought-provoking exploration.

Not Curve Balls

Life is perpetually about those unexpected curve balls, and truth be told, you cannot control them. Just consider the profound impact of unforeseen events like COVID-19 on the world—few saw it coming. The reality is, that we cannot dictate our partner's quirks, the road rage of the person who cuts us off at the intersection, or even our teenager's unpredictable behavior.

In our quest for control, we often convince ourselves that meticulous planning will unveil the path ahead and predict its outcome. Yet, in the grand scheme of things, nothing unfolds exactly as we envision. Curve balls are an inescapable part of existence, the only constant in the universe.

The question becomes not how to eliminate them, for that is impossible, but how to navigate them. You see, life provides us with three options: we can learn to catch these curve balls, sidestep them skillfully, or boldly run with them. So, ask yourself, which do you think is the easiest? Perhaps the answer lies not in avoiding life's unpredictable twists but in embracing them, adapting with resilience, and finding joy in the dance with the unexpected.

Wendy says “You want me to talk of curved balls? Which ones? We all have them and have watched the behavior of others. We cannot control the cancellation of a flight, the accident and broken bone, the sudden death of a loved one, or a diagnosis of a life-threatening disease, yet what we can control. Simply put, it is the way we react in these situations.”

It’s Not Other People

Human interactions are inherently unpredictable. How others think, feel, and behave towards you is beyond your control. People come with their perspectives, emotions, and experiences that shape their responses. As much as we might desire stability and understanding in our relationships, the reality is that we cannot dictate how others perceive or respond to us. Their thoughts and actions are a culmination of their journeys, which we cannot fully comprehend or regulate.

While it's natural to seek approval and understanding, placing too much emphasis on how others perceive us can lead to frustration and disappointment. Instead, the focus should shift inward. By understanding and accepting ourselves, we gain the strength to navigate the unpredictable nature of human interactions. Empowerment comes from realizing that we can control our reactions and choices, even when we cannot control how others choose to engage with us.

Sally says “It took me many years, (from childhood to menopause) to stop worrying about what others thought about me, attempting to direct their behaviors. My 50th birthday came and overnight, I stopped caring. Please take note from me, attempting to control other people means you are wasting years!”

Not Your Thoughts

We can't control our thoughts, yet we can control what we attach to them. Thoughts create feelings, which create actions and, therefore, our reality. If we want to change the external, we have to begin from the internal. If we are not in control, then someone else is—and they are controlling your life.

For example, we know that serving others is the route to happiness, yet serving yourself first - being Sensibly Selfish is the key to serving others. When you come from a place of a full cup or have put your oxygen mask on first, you serve others with great energy rather than meh energy. This thought will stir emotions for you, now you have to decide what actions you want to attach to them.

Jilly Says “I loved the exercise in the ‘Art of Sensibly Selfish’ stopping to look randomly at my thoughts. I was very surprised to see negativity regularly. No wonder I was feeling low and out of kilter with the world. Three weeks in and I am already feeling happier and healthier.”

Not Past or Future Events

Reminiscing about past events or future circumstances is an ongoing challenge. Our minds tend to revisit memories or fixate on future scenarios, often leading to stress and anxiety. However, the essence of control lies in acknowledging that dwelling on the past or worrying excessively about the present won't change what has already occurred or what may occur.

The power lies in embracing the present moment. By accepting what is and letting go of what cannot be changed, we free ourselves from the shackles of unproductive rumination. Life in midlife is a continuous journey, and focusing on the present allows us to make intentional choices that shape our future. It's not about controlling time; it's about harnessing the present to create a more fulfilling and purposeful tomorrow.

Phillipa says “Recently I have spent some time looking over my past life events and rewriting them. I made the realization that I could write everything as I wished to see it today. Rather like the history books at school, which were always someone's perspective, not every perspective and not necessarily the truth.”

Not Outcomes of Actions

The illusion of control often extends to the outcomes of our actions. We meticulously plan and strive for specific results, only to realize that life has its agenda. Control, in this context, shifts from micromanaging outcomes to emphasizing the effort we put into our endeavors.

Focusing on the process rather than fixating on results fosters resilience and adaptability. Life is a series of unpredictable events, and the true measure of control lies in how we respond to them. By channeling our energy into the journey rather than fixating on destinations, we cultivate a mindset that embraces challenges as opportunities for growth. It's not about guaranteeing success but about approaching life with a willingness to learn and evolve, irrespective of the outcomes.

Jenny says “I spent the whole eight-hour journey going over possible scenarios for the business meeting. What offer was I willing to accept, what counteroffer they would give me, and so on? When the time came, there was no meeting. The clients had signed with another contractor that morning. Eight hours of planning and I had not anticipated that scenario, what a learning curve!”

Not Suffering in the World

Suffering in the world is an inevitable facet of the human experience. The vastness and complexity of global issues make it impossible for any one individual to control or alleviate all forms of suffering. While we may feel compelled to make a difference, the realization dawns that our sphere of influence is limited.

However, this acknowledgment doesn't diminish the impact we can have within our communities and immediate circles. Rather than being paralyzed by the enormity of global challenges, we can contribute positively by focusing on what we can influence. Acts of kindness, empathy, and understanding within our immediate reach create a ripple effect. By accepting our constraints on a global scale and leveraging our abilities locally, we become agents of positive change in a world that sometimes feels beyond our control.

Anne says “I have felt sick, emotionally drained at the horrors of war taking place right now. I feel angry and useless yet determined to change something. It has taken me many years to learn the only person I can change is me. Now I focus on what I can change, it may feel small and insignificant, yet it is still change.”

Embrace Sensibly Selfishness

In exploring life's unpredictable twists and turns, we've journeyed through the realization that control is elusive, yet empowerment lies in unexpected places. As unique individuals, the key isn't found in attempting to master every aspect of our existence but in embracing the art of being Sensibly Selfish.

Understanding yourself, adhering to your values, and accepting both the imperfections and strengths within you are the foundation of this empowering philosophy. It's about fostering a self-assured confidence and radiating an energy that resonates far beyond your immediate sphere.

Being Sensibly Selfish is an ongoing practice—one that involves constant questioning, contemplation, curiosity, and the courage to let go of anything and anyone that no longer aligns with your journey in this stage of life. The journey is not about control but about a purposeful alignment with your authentic self.

As we conclude, remember that the secrets to fulfillment in midlife lie not in wrestling with the uncontrollable but in dancing with the unpredictable. The 'Sensibly Selfish' approach is your compass, guiding you towards a life lived authentically and intentionally. Join the ongoing conversation and exploration of these principles in our secret Facebook group, where we delve deeper into the nuances of this transformative journey. Your unique path awaits, and the art of being Sensibly Selfish is your compass to navigate the uncharted waters of midlife with confidence and grace.