Release what you can’t control

kim-potgieter-blog-imageAs always, it’s a choice

These days, most conversations I’m exposed to revolve around what’s going wrong. Whether I am at an investment feedback event or having a dinner party at home, the chatter eventually spirals down to the negative.

But is it any wonder? We are constantly bombarded by news of volatile investment returns, falling housing prices, unemployment, violence and load-shedding. The recent black-outs reminded us just how fragile we are, and the upcoming elections are clouded with uncertainty. We are literally surrounded by darkness.

So how do we stay optimistic and guard our emotions against the constant influx of bad news? We simply have to find ways to deal with our stress. You are of no use to yourself, or to others, if you allow yourself to become saddened and dispassionate by the events reported on in the media.

Start by analysing what is in your control to change. The truth is that you have no control over many things that happen in life. You also have no control over what stories the media covers, how they are reported and how often they are aired.

This presents you with a choice: do you want to be exposed to negative and bleak news on an hourly or daily basis? Do you want to be discussing the bad news over dinner every night? You can consciously decide what you will expose yourself to every day.

It is impossible to seclude ourselves from what’s going on in the world. A headline or tragic story will certainly catch your eye, but my point is: you and you alone get to decide how much of this you will entertain in your life.

Let go of the things you cannot control, and spend your energy on what you can.

Find a channel to contribute

For me, it starts with the right attitude. Limit your worry time on things you can’t control. Worrying does not change the outcome of events. We often get so stuck replaying negative news and fears over and over in our heads. Acknowledge that these thoughts are not productive and focus more energy on changing behaviour and setting healthy boundaries for yourself.

Be mindful of your health. To be negatively focused on a long-term basis will eventually lead to stress and ultimately impact your health. Instead, direct your energy to feeling good, finding joy and creating precious moments.

I was inspired by a discussion I had with a couple at one of our investment feedback events. Rather than being consumed with all the negativity and bleak news, they decided to engage in a project where they could actually make a real difference. This involves raising money towards building a workshop at their daughter’s special care facility. Their story will be featured in one of our upcoming Inflight publications.

Being positive amidst all the negativity is hard. It’s more than just feeling optimistic and practising positivity with intention. What works for me is doing regular exercises of gratitude. Make a list of everything that you are grateful for. This may just give you the mood boost you need. Another idea is to try starting each new conversation by sharing something that’s positive in your day. That will automatically trigger a more positive response from the person you are chatting to. Cultivating gratitude should always remind us to focus on hope and positivity.

May your gratitude lists overflow with hope this year.

Best wishes,

Comments (5)

  • Dear Kim

    Thank you for this article. Being positive is certainly not easy. I want to share something with you. I use to, and sometimes still do, worry a lot till Steve told me Spook you can stop worrying now because you have now worried enough for the next two years!! and most of the things you worried about did not even happen!! I just burst out laughing but I certainly don’t worry so much anymore and are definitely more positive.

    Thank you for being such a positive person it definitely put my mind as ease.

    Have a lovely day

  • Johanna Janse van Rensburg

    Hi Kim,
    Thank you for this very positive article! This is so true that our people are very negative and, I think, feeling so insecure about things that happen, that they cannot talk or think about something positive (and they cannot release it… )!
    Very good advice!

    Thank you so much for the delicious prize we won… what a surprize!

  • Hi Kim. Such good advice. I have a prayer practice called ‘the welcoming prayer. ‘ When faced with all these crippling emotions I sit in Gods presence, I allow myself to feel the emotion, (I don’t focus on the story behind the emotion) and feel how it feels in my body. Every emotion has a corresponding body sensation. Once I’ve sat with it, acknowledged it, recognised how it feels in my body, I then invite Gods presence and action into what I’m feeling, and then I let it go. I find this really helps, especially with the constant interior dialogue that results from all the negativity.

  • Marion Milesmarion Miles

    So true Kim, such a lot of negativity around. One always has to remain positive and not get dragged down by grumbling people.

  • Good day Kim
    Thanks for the excellent advice! I frequently find myself worrying about things that I have no control over. We South Africans need to up our happiness levels, we lagging far behind the rest of the world!

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