In today’s world we are bombarded with information, tasks and other stressors that can make life seem unmanageable at times. To top it off we also have personal and emotional issues in our life that can make our minds seem like they are racing.
Whether you are experiencing family conflict, work stress or issues within your relationship there are some simple tips that can be helpful in compartmentalizing some of the chaos in to more tangible pieces. Today we are going to talk about “The Box.”
This technique is one that can be helpful for children and adults. Begin by writing down all of your problems on small pieces of paper. Keep them short such, but jot down everything on your mind that is stressing you. For example: friends are being mean, husband is upset with me, bills need paid, etc.
Now here is where you can get creative. For children help them create two small boxes (boxes that checks come in are handy, shoe boxes will also work). Allow them to decorate the boxes and label them “Can Control” and “Can’t control.” For adults you too can have some arts and crafts time and create your own boxes, or just write the same words on two separate sheets of paper.
Once you have created a spot for each of your worries to go, begin to sort them. Do this by asking “Is this within my control or is this out of my control?” Really challenge yourself to see whose responsibility each of these items are. If the worry is someone else’s behavior, this is out of your control. While of course your behavior will influence others, overall this in not something you can control.
You may find that you will want to reframe some of these worries as you go. For example, while it is out of your control how your boss chooses to act, perhaps you realize something you can do to help influence his mood or response. Maybe your worry is your spouse helping with a chore around the house. While it is out of your control whether or not he takes action, maybe you realize there is a way you can help influence his behavior.
After you have sorted these out, take a few minutes to reflect on what is in each of the boxes. Those items in the “Can’t Control” box aren’t going to change no matter how much worry and energy you put towards them. Let them go. Put them in the box and put them away. Free up that energy to put towards the things you can control. Free yourself of those things that have been burdening you that you truly have no control over.