How to Feel What You Can Control vs. What You Can’t

The greatest source of stress in life is worrying about things you can’t control. The greatest source of tragedy ignoring what you can. Wisdom lies in realizing the difference between them.

By Ed Latimore Last modified
From the den of Ed Latimore
Subj: How to Get Control Of Your Life


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The greatest source of stress in life is worrying about things you can’t control. The greatest source of tragedy ignoring what you can. Wisdom lies in realizing the difference between them.

You’ll spend a lot of time unhappy, disappointed and angry if you confuse the two.

Worrying about things you CAN’T control results in frustration because it positions you as powerless. Ignoring what you CAN control results in a mediocre life.

The only way to improve your life is to act on things that you can affect. To do anything else is to expect lady luck to smile on you, but you will grow angry when she turns a cold shoulder to you.

(Read: “5 Reasons You’re Unhappy”)

How To Tell If You Have Control

I won’t give you a list of things you can or can’t control. Instead, I’ll give you a simple rule for determining how much control you have over something:

Can you, right now, do something to change its course? Will this action have an immediate effect?

If the answer to the first question is no, then you don’t have control over it. In that case, there’s no need to entertain the second condition because it flows from the first one.

Ask this question of anything that you think you have control of in your life. Prepare to be disappointed with how much energy you expend on things which you have no measurable effect on.

Most people waste their entire life in a perpetual state of emotional exhaustion, worrying about things that are beyond their control. The irony of worrying about things you can’t control is that because they affect your emotions, they control you instead. 

(Read: “On Self-Control”)

If you are able to affect the outcome, is that effect immediate? If you can affect it but those effects aren’t instant and total, then you only have influence. What most people think of as control is only influence.

I can control my mind, therefore I can control the pieces I move. Chess is unique this way, in that the player has total control. Not just the illusion of it.

The Difference Between Influence and Control

Influence is useful, but all it does it put the odds in your favor. It doesn’t make the outcome a guarantee—only more likely to occur. Failure to understand this leads to frustration when the desired outcome does not come to fruition.

You can influence a person to like you. You can’t control their feelings.

You can influence a person’s thinking. You can’t control their thoughts or the decisions they make because of those thoughts.

You don’t even control your body. It can become infected or injured, regardless of what you desire. You can be restrained against your will or killed. You have a small amount of influence over your body.

It’s only your mind that you have control over.

This is where the great tragedy occurs. People believe that they are free to do as they please, but the body has limits. Likewise, they invest tremendous energy in trying to control how others think of them.

(Read: “How To Stop Worrying What Other People Think About You”)

I learned this lesson when it came to my sobriety.

While my life dramatically improved when I stopped drinking, it wasn’t the action itself that caused the greatest change. Rather, it was me working with strength and clarity that allowed me to get control of my life. 

Instead of focusing on the quality of their thoughts, they focus on the perception of their actions. This is a recipe for misery.

Your mind has no limits.

The only reason that you think it does is because society has a vested interest in you never realizing your true potential. A strong mind is a free mind; free mind rebels and asks questions.

No matter what the state of your body is, there currently is no technology capable of altering your mind.

What Is The Mind?

When I speak of your mind, I’m not merely referring to your intelligence. Your mind is the place where all intent is harnessed and flows from. You underestimate its strength because it is true strength. True strength requires true control.

This control takes effort. This strength must be built and refined. It all starts and ends in the mind.

You can influence the mind via the body. The opposite of this is true, but not necessarily easy. As Mike Cernovich says in Gorilla Mindset, “It’s easier to act yourself into a new way of thinking than it is to think yourself into a new way of acting.”

Physical training is a very powerful tool for changing for controlling your mind because it provides tangible feedback. The training forces you to be disciplined, but that discipline comes with immediate change and growth.

(Read: “How to Think Like A Professional Fighter: 48 Lessons From Boxing”)

This shows your mind what is possible when you control and focus your intent. It’s impossible to influence exactly how your body will develop, but forcing yourself to workout will produce a change.

You can control your mind and the intent you put into your workout. You can’t control your body and how it responses to the workout.

This is the difference between between control and influence.

A few months apart with training in between. I couldn’t control exactly how my body would change. I could only control the intent behind the change.

The Ultimate Realization

Ease your emotions and humble your ego with the following realization: there is very little in this world that you can control.

There are more things that you have influence over, but even that list is surprisingly small.

Where you can leverage your influence, do so with outcome independence. Where you lack control, practice cognitive minimalism and remove this burden from your heart.

You’ll get more out of your limited years on this planet if you do this.

And next, read this: How to Get Lucky: 9 Easy Ways to Seduce The Goddess of Fate