controlling your response to the uncontrollable

Most people don’t deal well with uncertainty.  This is why the serenity pray is still so important – to everyone.

I take a humanistic approach, meaning, I take a realistic and compassionate approach to the problem.

1. What can I control? Really. Having a science-based approach helps me know what is within my control and what is not.   The key to the serenity prayer – is knowing the difference between the things you can control and the things you can’t. Science can help you. That is what is known as wisdom.

2. I work on something else. When something is beyond my control. Instead of spending my time worrying about it. I find something that is within my control and work on that. It might be something tangential. It might be completely off topic. But I find giving myself something constructive to do helps me not waste time worrying about something I don’t have control over.

3. Flipping Coins and other superstitious behavior. I know flipping coins won’t help me know how something will turn out. But it still helps me reduce stress and gives me a good laugh. Most of our superstitious behaviors are to help us feel like we have control over things we don’t control at all. It gives us the illusion of control. And that illusion can be very calming. To take advantage of this without getting lost in fantasy/magical/wish fulfillment – I flip coins.  Not having control over something is very very stressful. If we can trick our brains into relaxing – we will be much better off. So I engage in coin flipping to help convince my brain – it’s under control so it will relax and let me focus on things that actually would be constructive. The key is to not take whatever superstitious thing you do seriously. Give your brain the illusion of control – but be aware – it’s still beyond your control. And yes – this does work. It’s like a placebo for the brain.

I have a 6 hour online course called Living Made Simpler that teaches humanist coping skills - step by step to help you learn how to be more effective at - life without resorting to supernaturalism.

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