As a business person, there are a great many things you cannot control… the weather, geopolitics, traffic patterns, tariffs and a thousand of other things. If we let it, the external world will pull us in a million different directions, often at the same time.
However, there is ONE thing over which we can learn to have complete and total control, and that is our internal reality. The challenge is that our internal reality is often not clearly defined.
While a complete review of tools, tactics, tips, and strategies for mental and emotional control could fill a small novel, there is one fundamental concept that will help you recognize and shift your mindset quickly and easily.
In this table, A+B+C represents internal factors which add together to create what you experience in your life, which is the external world.
Suppose a person is experiencing some type of challenge, pain, deficiency, or even just a bad or incorrect idea on the left side of this table. We’ll call that -500 units of energy. On the right side, this person also has an amazing body, takes great photos, and is achieving some measure of financial success on Instagram (and it could be anywhere: in career, in college, in relationships, etc.). We’ll give that measure of success a value of +10,000 units of energy. When we balance out the equation, it’s +9,500 on the right side.
But here’s the problem: No matter how BIG that number is on the right, it will NEVER remove the negative number on the left side. People will chase greater success, higher highs through alcohol abuse, drug abuse, extreme behavior and feats of daring… all in an (often unconscious) attempt to escape the pain that they are literally carrying around inside them. This is why so many people who seem to “have it all” on the outside destroy themselves – because they believe they are frauds or don’t deserve their success on the inside.
Often, these internal challenges stem from childhood issues and trauma or misunderstandings that were never resolved. Young children process the world in a different way than teens or adults; they don’t disassociate from their behavior – young children don’t separate “I did something bad” from “I am bad.” When in trouble with authority figure, children make themselves wrong.
The key, then, is to address the internal factors, the A+B+C factors inside a person. Those three factors are what create our belief systems (our BS) and they are: what we think (A), what we feel (B), and what we do as habits (C). We must learn to challenge what we think, what we feel, and what we do rather than merely accept them. Learning to control our internal reality shifts us to living at “cause” instead of living at “effect.” Understanding that we cannot control the external world, we should focus on influencing what we can influence and harmonize that with what we cannot influence.
Our thoughts drive how we feel about things we experience, and our feelings drive our habits. You’ll know someone (even yourself) is operating at effect when they make statements such as “I don’t FEEL like it.” That is someone harmonizing with their feelings, not controlling their feelings. And, yes – we’re all human and don’t always want to be in control of our inner world and that’s okay too…sometimes. The problem is when it’s a lifestyle of abdicating control of the internal.
So how do you start to get control of the internal? You’ve already started by reading this article and gaining a new awareness. That’s a key that can open new doors.
Second, breathe. Just because you feel something doesn’t mean you have to react immediately.
Third, start to create boundaries – physical, mental and emotional so you know when you’re getting overwhelmed or reacting. Directly challenge uncomfortable or confusing thoughts and feelings, treat them like someone entering your home.
Forth, exert your control by challenging yourself in intelligent ways: meditation, yoga, working out, martial arts, learning a new skill. Put yourself into a situation where you don’t control all the variables so you focus on controlling your internal thoughts and feelings instead.