We control one third of life – our reactions to it. This is enough control for us to make a success of it. The bad news, however, to both understand and mitigate, is two thirds of life we do not control and we must, therefore, be wary of it.
The Colossal Power of a Dream
The creative energy behind this article came from a dream—well, actually, it was more like a pretty good contender for my worst nightmare.
In this dream I was doing so well with my familial relationships most of the time; then without the faintest of warnings I would flare up at a family occasion and insult or assault a family member.
I kept recalling to myself in the dream... thinking, “This is not me... why am I doing this?” It was very scary for me; these sorts of situations would dismay any of us. But the truth is, the reaction of abuse and assault is something we’re all capable of; we all have anger to mitigate and re-direct.
The Chiding Two Thirds
Let’s deal with the ugly bits first.
The chiding two thirds represent more or less an equal share of one half other people—who we cannot control, ever—as well as the other half, which is our life situations—another thing we cannot control, ever.
We could argue that both these above—other people and life situations—we have moderate amounts of indirect control over. (But that defeats the point of the article and doesn’t suit our purpose right now.)
Sure, we have our influence, but influence has a way of humbling us in embarrassment when we rely upon it; when we think we most need it. Best then to not rely upon such a thing as influence—good whilst it’s there, admittedly—it’s shocking, however, when it’s not.
The Golden Third
The locus is with us here. We’re entirely responsible and capable. We can do anything we choose.
Sound good? Well, of course it is. And this is the point of the article.
Where we can maintain any semblance of control is over our thoughts, our feelings and our reactions to things. Why would we give this level of control away by getting emotional about things when it’s all we have? It would be like cutting the arm off of a one-armed person, though this theory pretends that the one-armed person had three to begin with.
Pressing home the advantage in life is about making the very most of what we have and not worrying about what we don’t have, or what we don’t have control over.
Let’s live in the Golden Third—‘in the zone’ of control and what psychologists call, ‘self-efficacy’.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.