Being present and in control is something that comes up often in our mission. For example, we see the anxiety and stress and we can see the patterns and habits behind them. Relationships can trigger us, time can derail us, emotions can get the best of us and we may forget how faith can bring us peace.
So, here’s a tool we created to help – The Present Control Matrix. It’s a tool we’ll build in a handful of easy steps. To start off with, let’s review the Serenity Prayer, written by Reinhold Niebuhr:
Did you realize that this prayer was really this long? It says a lot, doesn’t it? Most people understand these truths – things like serenity, courage, wisdom. If we take that most popular first section and convert it to a picture, it might look like this:
Therefore, the first lesson for being present and in control, is to focus only on what we CAN control.
To have the courage to make adjustments there, accept the things we can’t control and have the wisdom to know the difference. Can you think of something troubling you right now that is actually outside of your control? Examples can be: trying to make someone love you or act a certain way, or trying to change an entire situation.
Let’s take it a step further. Our brains are capable of recalling the past and imagining the future, as well as living in the present:
We need to become more aware of how the past and the future can get us in trouble. (see graphic below)
Too many times, an abuse, betrayal or bad memory creates bitterness, resentment, guilt, shame and regret. These things can eat us up inside. It’s healthier to process these situations more constructively, gaining a new perspective and learning how to forgive others.
The future can be fun, hopeful and exciting. For some however, it’s a source of worry and fear of what could happen. Something could go wrong. We could get hurt again. We can get caught up in all the “what if” scenarios. Gaining more faith and trust will reduce the worry and fear.
Can you think of something right now that’s bothering you? By chance, is it from your past or future? Examples from the past can be divorce, infidelity, abuse, addiction, incarceration, embarrassments and much more. Future examples include worries about our kids, money, health, relationships, etc. Being (and staying) in the present will help you stay in control and feel more in control.
Now, let’s put the two pieces together.
Being present and in control means staying in the present vs. the past or the future. It means focusing on only the things you can control or influence. Try to catch yourself the next time you’re struggling in one of these three, gray, unproductive boxes, below. Life can be hard enough as it is, right? I don’t believe we can afford to waste our precious energy in these three gray places. There is very little to no return on that energy investment! This is especially true when we find ourselves going there repeatedly. It can be harmful enough to go there once. When we “replay the video” in our mind, it can be hurting ourselves over and over. Please realize that you have the power to turn these mental videos off!
- You can’t control the abuse you suffered in childhood or your past divorce. However, you can control the healing you get, the way you take care of yourself and the grace you choose to show to those who wronged you.
- You can’t control your kids or their future. However, you can love them, learn parenting tips, teach them the best you can, provide different experiences for them, pray for them, and get creative on how you spend time together.
Being present and in control isn’t some kind of dream life. It’s a state of mind that can be learned and practiced to gain more peace.
Whether you’re in Dayton, OH, or somewhere else around the world, Mission Addiction is here to support you. Contact us about our coaching and mentoring services for assistance beyond this article. Join us for one of our regular, open support group meetings or participate in our MAP for Healing and Recovery program. We’re here to help you in any way we can and look forward to speaking with you soon about it!
Copyright © 2022, Edward Livesay, Mission Addiction