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Taking Back Control of Yourself

How to Take Control of Yourself

Lying in bed a while back I was mind boggled by all of the things on my to do list for the next day. I’ve got daily cleaning chores, plus laundry, which is no easy task, for the time being until I can get a filter put on my well I have to pack all of the family’s dirty laundry into the car along with all my detergents, bleach, and fabric softener, drive the 45 minutes into town and spend two hours washing, drying, and folding my family’s laundry.

There is half the day just gone. Now I have to make dinner. Feed the dog—wait did I remember to give the youngest pup her antibiotics? I don’t even know if they have water.

These random thoughts used to be part of my every night life, no matter if I went to sleep at 9 p.m. or 1 a.m. I couldn’t shut my brain down; I couldn’t just curl up in my nice warm bed with my comfortable pillows and sleep.

So now I’m up out of bed, checking the water level in the dog’s bowl, and counting antibiotics to make sure they were given today. Now that I’m up and obviously not going to sleep anytime soon, I may as well do the dishes.

Why is it I torture myself this way? I felt as if I was holding myself hostage,sometimes making it hard to breathe, concentrate, or even complete simple tasks. And now I’mlosing sleep over this. It was time to do something about this. I don’t function well without sleep, and it’s just asimportant for your health as diet and exercise.

Regrets are a part of life, and the only way they can control our lives is if we let them. The more we think about our regrets the more influence they have over us. Understanding that regrets are a part of life is something that’s easier said than done, though.

I had to find some way to shut my brain down at night and allow myself to get an adequate amount of sleep, so I could function the next day. Everyone has responsibilities that they have to take care of right away, and after some trial and error, I found out what to do, in order to let go of those regrets and actually sleep.

Owning Up to Mistakes

Telling the neighbor that I didn’t paint the house all on my own wasterrifying, but I made a joke out of it saying, “You know, when I said I painted the house by myself, what I really meant was that I was teaching my daughter how to paint correctly, which was like painting the house all by myself.”

This simple admittance of my mistake took such a huge weight off my chest. Sometimes, when we lie or say something we don’t mean—even if it’s just as simple as telling a neighbor you painted a house by yourself—can leave you feeling heavy hearted. Just acknowledging and confessing the truth can make everything that much better.

Another little lesson I took from that was to also remember to think about what I say before something like that just pops out again. It allows a sort of buffer, if you will. I give myself a few extra seconds to think about what I’m about to say and helps keep me from blurting things out.

Taking a second to think about what you’re going to say and owning up to a mistake you made allows you to have a clearer head. Now, instead of worrying about it while I’m doing dishes at night, I can have a much clearer head at night. It’s a big step towards emotional regulation, a better night’s sleep, and taking back your mind.

Learning That “No” Is A Complete Sentence

This is something I remember hearing as a teenager from my Mom. I would get sucked into babysitting my older sister’s kids on the weekends, when I should have been the one out doing something with my friends.

But I didn’t know how to say no. I felt guilty for even thinking about saying no to someone that needs help. With time, I realized why should I feel guilty about saying no? My sister didn’t feel guilty about asking me for the 7th weekend in a row to watch her kids.

Saying no is empowering. It feels like breaking the chains that are holding you down, free. And it’s ok to not make an excuse to go with it. The things you need or want to do are just as important also.

Making an excuse for your “no” just allows another opportunity for discussion on the matter, and you already said no. That should be the end of it.

Time Management

Learning to manage my time better, has made my life better. I now have much more free time during the day. There are few things in life that hold a greater feeling to me than accomplishing my to-do list. The best way I have found to accomplish this is by doing my hardest task first.

Whether it be, that dreaded dentist appointment you need to make, or mowing the lawn,completing this goal first makes you feel accomplished and on top of the world, making your other tasks easier.Now before you know it, you’re done, feeling great about yourself, and have plenty of free time.

Make More of Your Behaviors Automatic

Because our willpower can be so limited, our best defense is to rely on it less. Here’s how the brilliant mathematician Alfred North Whitehead it: “Civilization advances by extending the number of operations we can perform without thinking about them.”

A ritual is a highly precise behavior that you perform over and over, at a specific time, so it becomes automatic and no longer requires much willpower to get it done.

By taking my much-needed iron supplement before I brush my teeth in the morning, insures that I will now take it every day. It’s now a daily habit, just like taking a shower or brushing my teeth. Just like at night I would associate locking the doors and windows with checking the dogs water dish, to ensure it was full.

There are plenty of ways to track down good and bad behaviors. Apps like Fitbit, MyFitnessPal and BookLover promise to help us change our habits by tracking our good (or bad) behavior. Knowing what behaviors happen when can help change them to an automatic response or ridding them altogether.

Take Yourself Out of Harm’s Way

You can’t control everything, but you can selectively avoid temptations. If you want to lose weight, it makes sense to remove your favorite fatty foods from your pantry, and to tell the waiter at restaurants not to bring the bread to your table. If you want to get challenging work done, turn off your social media, close your email, play theT.V. for designated periods of time only.

I no longer stop at the gas station or the market closest to my house because I used to stop and buy a pack of smokes every day; I haven’t smoked in over 3 years now. All it took was me breaking the habit of stopping for gas there. I now drive a bit farther, where the owner of this gas station sells plant starters, which is what I buy to reward myself now.

The Result

I sleep at night, with a clear mind now. No more getting up and doing the dishes; with the time I save now during the day, they’re already done. I’ve learned to own up to my mistakes, so they no longer haunt me while I try to rest. I have my habits in place allowing me to rest at ease, knowing the dogs have water, the doors are locked, and I have taken my vitamins.

Regrets, as bad and as daunting as they can be, are a part of life, but they don’t have to be your life. Taking control for your emotional well-being is something that you need to do in order to live a happier and healthier life.

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

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