Handling Situations You Can’t Control

As much as we hate to admit it, most of us like to be in control. Control gives us freedom, power, and even confidence. It allows us to steer our own course. Be the captain of our own ship.

But what happens when we lose it? Click here to read more…

As young adults head off to college or into the workforce, they’ll be in the driver’s seat for the first time; free from their parents’ day-to-day oversight. At last, they will experience the sweet feeling of “control.” They’re excited about their newfound freedom. But is it really this easy? Of course not. After all, much will still remain outside of their control. How will they handle this new reality? Have you prepared them well?

Consider these real-world scenarios:

  • They don’t get along with their roommate
  • They just bombed their first science final—so much for majoring in biology!
  • Just when they’re about to graduate and search for a job, the economy tanks
  • They don’t land the job they desperately wanted
  • They don’t care for their new supervisor
  • It rains on their wedding day
  • Their car broke down
  • A boyfriend or girlfriend breaks up with them
  • Someone they love is diagnosed with a life-threatening illness

Control? Think again! Although young adults are becoming more independent, they’ll quickly learn that this idea of control is a myth. Unexpected road bumps are the norm and will continue to be for the rest of their lives. They’ll have to deal with each unique situation the best they can, like we all do. Incidentally, most of the above examples happened to me!

Essentially, we all have two choices in facing tough, out-of-control situations: 1) stew and sulk about the circumstances and be consumed with self-pity or 2) accept the things you can’t control, work the problem, and make the best of it. You may not like the circumstances, but you can focus on what you can control, and try to glean something positive from it.

For example, you can’t control a roommate who you don’t get along with. However, you can choose to accept the situation and control the way you communicate with him or her. You can’t control not getting your dream job, but you can control your resume and sharpen your interview skills. See where I’m going?

It’s important for young people—for all of us, really—to understand that we have a choice in how to deal with matters beyond our control. For your own sake and for those around you, adopt the second approach. It’s not always easy but it’s far better than the alternative!
Remember, control what you can, but accept the things you can’t!

How do you handle things when life doesn’t go your way? Do you have a strategy that works well for you? If you have young people in your life, please share your ideas and thoughts with them so they are properly equipped, too.

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