I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “Control what you can control.”

I’m sure you’ve heard the prayer, “Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Both sound well and good in theory, but what is there left to do when things are spiraling outside of your grasp?

What’s beneath the problems we deal with is uncertainty. We don’t know how things will pan out. We’re not sure how we’re going to make it. We’re scared about what’s going to happen.

It all arises from uncertainty.

In the information age, we’re spoiled. We decipher we don’t know something, plug the question into Google and within seconds, multiple answers are presented.

So it’s only natural that when we cannot locate a clear answer to our problem, we fall apart. This then creates a ripple effect, where our emotional state is so violently impacted that it sets other negative outcomes into motion as a result.

This continues until we arrive at a point where we put a stop to it all.

It may come from inspiration. It may come from desperation.

But sooner or later, something gives.

Here’s how to expedite it.

Stop Focusing On Outcomes

One of the quickest ways to get yourself out of a funk is to understand and become aware of what’s happening inside your head.

What’s constantly at play is a “vicious circle” of neurological happenings that can inhibit you from creating positive change.

The “Vicious Circle”

The current outcome we are experiencing produces various thoughts about what’s going on, what it all means, and the like. We go into prediction mode with our thinking and experience a cascade of emotions (often unnecessary ones) to cope with the magnitude of the situation.

While there’s nothing wrong with this process, it does keep us from handling the problem directly.

As you can see in the illustration above, the ONLY thing that produces outcomes is action. Thoughts and feelings eventually lead to actions, but the actions themselves are solely responsible for every outcome.

The way we get in front of this is by shifting our focus from the thoughts and feelings about what’s happening to instead focusing solely on the actions that will lead us to a better outcome, shown below.

“Recovery Mode”

I call this “recovery mode”. Here, we go into the proverbial mechanic’s shop and make the necessary repairs on the outcomes we’re currently experiencing.

I will note this isn’t meant to last forever. Thoughts and feelings can be incredibly moving and inspiring experiences for human beings. We just want to shelve them temporarily so as to keep them under manageable control.

After all, all we need is a little bit of progress to ensue and all of a sudden, change is enacted.

Put Yourself In An Ideal State

Through that little bit of progress, we experience a change in our state. The small amount of momentum rolling towards a better outcome begins to cause a shift in the way we experience life.

As human beings, we have a fundamental need for progress. As long as progress is being made, we’re making (albeit small, but still) deposits into our self-worth’s bank account.

And as our self-worth grows, our state changes.

Every person’s ultimate goal in life can be defined by a particular “state”. Love, freedom, power, appreciation, joy and vitality are all various states of being. While external concepts certainly help create these states with greater ease, all of these are created from within.

As cliche as it sounds, sometimes all it takes is slowing down and truly appreciating what you have in front of you.


How are the thoughts and feelings about a particular outcome keeping you from taking action to create change?

What can you now see is possible for you by focusing ONLY on the actions that produce the outcomes you want instead of the thoughts or feelings?

Think about your most audacious stretch goal associated with an area in which you’re experiencing a breakdown. Visualize yourself accomplishing this goal.

What state are you experiencing by achieving this goal?

How can you create that state right now?

Originally published at medium.com