DAY #313 CONTROL THE CONTROLLABLES


BROOKE SNOW THE PODCAST – Episode 77

This little piece of artwork says a lot about me.

  • I have a “can do” attitude. I looked for about 5 minutes on google for an image of a drawing of a mountain with a little man standing next to it, before I decided, I can totally do that.
  • None of my impossible goals in the past included improving my art skills.
  • I re-use and recycle. Yes, this was drawn on the back on my 4-year old’s artwork.

The mountain in this sketch, inspired by Brooke Snow’s podcast today, represents our problems or concerns or fears or challenges. And you and me are represented by the stick figure on the right.

Sometimes our trials seem so big that we can’t even see what it looks like on the other side – we can’t even imagine ourselves even getting to the other side. And many of the things that make up this mountain are entirely out of our control. The mountain can be mostly made up of neutral circumstances – the economy, other people, sickness, the weather, etc.

Okay, let’s try this exercise. On a scale of 1-10 how big are the neutral circumstance trials that are before us. Maybe getting stuck in traffic is a 1 or a 2. Maybe your husband’s unemployment is a 9. For me, I have mono, and that is probably really only a 2 or a 3. I’m tired, but I am able to, if I’m careful, get everything done that I still want to do. But you and I have talked about other trials I have that are a 9 or a 10 – they are just so overwhelmingly large to me in my mind, that, for a while, I couldn’t even get out of bed in the mornings.

“There is a whole spectrum of what can be considered a challenge.

Going back to this image of a small person and the big mountain, how do you conquer the mountain if it is simply too big?

The truth is, if our challenges have a spectrum or a scale, we do too. I can be a ‘level 1’ Brooke or I can be a ‘level 10’ Brooke, or anywhere in between. If I am operating at a ‘level 1’, then a ‘level 1’ challenge is going to feel the same size as me – all I can do. When I am operating at a ‘level 1’, then it feels like life is happening to me. It feels like everything is bigger than me.”

We cannot always, or even usually, control what makes up that mountain in front of us, but what we can control is at what level we are operating on.

“There are so many things that we can’t control right now that have a huge impact on our life…

The secret lies in raising my own level. How do we do that? By controlling the controllables.”

What is in my control? The fundamentals – the essence of self-care. My morning brain self-care. What thoughts I choose to put back in my brain after a thought dump. The way I care for my body. How much sleep I get each night. What kind of food I eat. My time in prayer, communing with God. My time on social media. The speed at which I live my life.

“If I’m operating at a ‘level 9’, then I’m nearly as high as the mountain, right? If I’m at a ‘level 9 or 10’, then most of life’s problems are going to be very manageable. In fact, they may not even really appear like problems any more – they are just life happening…

And the fastest and most powerful way I know to make the mountain manageable is to grow my own capacity. It’s to grow taller than the mountain. It’s to control the controllables.”

The irony is this: When life gets hard, when the mountains get taller, that’s when we let go of controlling the controllables. That’s when we decide to not exercise because we are too tired, or we decide to stay up later and later because we have so much to do. That’s when we skip our morning routine. It’s when we decide a pint of ice cream would serve us better than a sit down dinner. This is when we buffer. And it’s a downward spiral. And then we find ourselves operating at a ‘level 1’. Ironic, right?

“What could happen if life getting hard was a trigger for us to be more committed to the protocol, rather than less.”

When we are at “war”, it would serve us well to respond like Captain Moroni, building up our fortifications our watchtowers our strongholds. Those things are the “protocol”. Those things are the controllables. They are the fundamentals. Sleep. Eat right. Breathe. Move. Meditate. etc.

“We’re focusing on what is in your control, and most especially the things in your control that have the greatest impact on helping you be strong, confident, and prepared for any uncertainty that may arise.”

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