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How to Stop Controlling and Start Surrendering

Updated: Oct 20, 2022

Circles of Influence and Control

Influence and Control

The Wisdom to Know the Difference

Written by Randi Fine, Narcissistic Abuse Expert

Narcissistic Abuse Awareness and Guidance with Randi Fine

We make plans - the Universe laughs

When facing the challenges life brings it is important to understand the difference between influence and control; what is within our power, what is not, and what we do have influence over.

Do you spend a lot of time and energy worrying, focusing on or trying to change things you have no control over? Do you believe you can determine the exact outcome of the future?

Life is unpredictable. The worldwide pandemic was a palpable example of that. We all had plans for the future, none of which included getting sick, losing loved ones, closing businesses, being out of work, having no income, being physically cut off from friends and family, being unable to travel, becoming house bound.

No one could have known how life would look in the aftermath of the pandemic. It was impossible for anyone to control the outcome. But we did have influence over how we protected ourselves and others, the perspective we chose to take, and how we moved forward.

The Circle Influence and Control pictured at the top of the page is representative of a tool created by Steven Covey in his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. The intent of this model is to help us be proactive in our lives. Covey teaches us to focus on what we can influence and act upon rather than stressing and feeling helpless over what we cannot control.

Accepting that which we cannot control does not make us lazy, unmotivated or weak. It opens our lives up; allows in possibilities we could have never imagined and opens doors. Control is resistance. It blocks all the possibilities that are out there for us and locks all doors.

There are things in life we can control and things we cannot. Some examples of things we can control are:

  1. Our beliefs

  2. Our faith

  3. Our thoughts and what we tell ourselves

  4. Our reactions

  5. Our perspective

  6. Our personal boundaries

  7. Our choices

  8. What we focus on

  9. Our peace of mind

  10. Our work ethic

  11. Our creativity

  12. The way we treat others

  13. The way we treat ourselves (mind, body, and spirit)

  14. Who we allow in our lives

  15. Our level of gratitude

  16. Our education and expertise

  17. What we eat

  18. What we share with others

  19. Whether or not to forgive

  20. What we do in the moment

Examples of things we cannot control are:

  1. What happened in the past

  2. What will happen in the future

  3. How happy others are

  4. The family we were born into

  5. The parents we were given

  6. What others will say

  7. Change

  8. Who loves and likes us

  9. The weather

  10. Natural disasters

  11. Aging

  12. When we will die

  13. Our genetics

  14. How tall or short we are

  15. Time

  16. Adversity and tragedy

  17. Traffic

Examples of things we can influence are:

  1. Our health

  2. Our finances

  3. Our career

  4. Our level of success

  5. Making a difference in the lives of others

  6. Peace in the world

  7. Our children

  8. Our personal environment

  9. The condition of the world we live in

  10. Our weight

  11. Our appearance

  12. Those who seek our knowledge

  13. Other's minds

  14. How others treat us

  15. Laws and rules

  16. Our reputation

  17. The trajectory of our life

Any time you need clarity on a personal issue you can draw you own Circles of Influence and Control and place whatever thoughts you are working through inside.

Randi Fine is an internationally renowned narcissistic abuse expert and coach, and the author of the groundbreaking book Close Encounters of the Worst Kind: The Narcissistic Abuse Survivor’s Guide to Healing, the most comprehensive, most well researched, and most up-to-date book on this subject. In addition to helping survivors recognize their abuse and heal from it, this book teaches mental health professionals how to recognize and properly treat the associated abuse syndrome. She is also the author of Cliffedge Road: A Memoir, the first and only book to characterize the life-long progression of complications caused by narcissistic child abuse.


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