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The A to Z Guide to Life - Letter "C" Monday December 21, 2015

[To listen to an audio version of this blog please click here:]

"C" is for "Control". According to Time Manager International, humans need a sense of overview, structure and control to feel OK about life. {So you can guess what letters 'O' and 'S' will be!}

"Control" is a funny concept. Most of us hate to be controlled, yet we also hate to lose control. We call control of others, 'manipulation', yet regard control of our temper or our circumstances as 'mastery'!

Can we agree that self-control, and control of the circumstances we can influence is a good thing, and that seeking to control others is a bad thing? Even the words 'good' and 'bad' are challenging, but let's let them stand today.

Can we also agree that having a sense that your life is under control (rather than out of control) is desirable and feels good? Good!

So, we need a strategy. Stephen Covey shared the concept of circles. We have a circle of control, a circle of influence and a circle of concern in his model. Seems we move in circles!

The circle of concern embraces the things in life we cannot control. Marketing people call these "PESTS" - for Political, Economic, Social and Technological factors that affect us but are difficult (though not impossible) for us to affect. In short, we should be aware of them but not overly bothered – our time would be better spent elsewhere.

The circles that need our time and attention are those where we can influence the outcome, or control it directly. And these circles are far larger than we might think. In fact, the more we work on them, the more they ripple out. After all, one thought, articulated well, can eventually change any of the PESTS I mentioned. Ideas change the World. There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come.

For today though, I'm recommending a focus on the most powerful person in your Universe: You. If you have a faith, I am not negating that God is ultimate power in your life, however, I would strongly suggest that it is you who needs to take action corresponding to your beliefs.

My goal is single-minded today: for you to feel good about yourself.

To do this, would you focus on control and influence? Would you take a few minutes to list up to 10 aspects of your life today where you can control or influence the outcome? Make these things you'd enjoy controlling, changing, transforming, adapting... then take action, enthusiastic action.

Kindly share the sense of euphoria that may well arise!

Have an inspirational day!

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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Lex Mon, Dec 21st 2015 @ 7:09am

Just to add, I thinking simple steps here folks:
1) You can control what time the alarm clock goes off
2) You can control the temperature of the shower
3) You can control your choice of route on your journeys today - for example I deliberately take a longer route to Swanage simply because my chosen route is far more beautiful - so I get a secondary 'pay-off' of 'enjoying the journey'.
Hope that helps xx

the room above the garage Mon, Dec 21st 2015 @ 8:06am

Hello Lex, this is easy and difficult! You challenge me :-) Easy to control some things when we have head allowance for it and difficult to remember we still have some control at times we are slipping. I think I lurch between them! And so it's time to align them. As always, I'm in danger of over thinking so I will take your advice and open myself first to simple stuff...shower temp, kettle. Today started badly so I will be rolling this one around and seeing if I can use it to change the game. Thank you my friend X.

Lex Mon, Dec 21st 2015 @ 10:15am

Love ya, RATG... may I suggest just five, and make them your five a day!!!!! BIG fan of pen (or even better 'pencil') to paper so that the 'list' isn't cluttering your working memory. BIG Hug Lxx

the room above the garage Tue, Dec 22nd 2015 @ 12:19am

Yes! Five a day and in you're talking. Today I had control over (1) my frustration, it would get me nowhere so I made it wash over, (2) nutrition, (3) Christmas, it threatened to swallow me whole so I reminded it the fish fingers were in the freezer and I am not afraid to use them, (4) bed changing, (5) me. Thank you darling boy, today was brought to me by the letter 'C' and by the words 'thank' and 'you'.

Lex Tue, Dec 22nd 2015 @ 12:48pm

Ha ha... the Power of Fish Fingers... I salute you... 'erm, with my Fish Fingers!!! L'xx

I love fresh ground coffee Mon, Dec 21st 2015 @ 9:16am

I can control today:
1/ Whether to cancel eye test
2/ When and if to ask friends to leave today
3/ What to add to my lunchtime soup
4/ Whether to shower
5/ I have some free time early evening - how to use that time
6/ My evening plans are tentative - I can control what to suggest to my friend and also if to opt out completely
7/ I can control what time I go to bed
8/ I can control whether I look at today as a gift or a burden - trickier one that!
9/ I can control whether I walk or drive to my eye test
10/ I can control if tonight's dinner is large or small.

Lex Mon, Dec 21st 2015 @ 10:13am

I love the scent of freshly ground coffee brewing in the morning! And I love your list! Lxx

LillyPet Mon, Dec 21st 2015 @ 11:19am

Hi Lex,
You're right about the clock! Like ratg says Simple but my biggest challenge! I will have to make friends with it! I'll treat myself to a beautiful one and be kinder to myself in giving myself the gift of time to do what I want to in plenty of time! That would be my one simple thing to control.
1. Charge my batteries by getting a lungfull of outdoor air! It's a beautiful sunny morning in London, so will get some sunshine on my bones, get my body moving!
2. Carry a cranberry juice (my fav!) or water around and sip throughout each day to keep brain and body hydrated. Flushing out toxins and stress hormones.
3. Cook something simple for pleasure, whatever I choose will have to be (mostly!) healthy, smell look and taste delicious.
4. Change negatives that are draining my energy into positives. Change to the flip side wherever possible, or at least acknowledge it, let it be and plant a new seed with it. Gently cover it and let it be. Allow a change of focus. Challenge myself to achieve something positive that I want, that will make me feel good.
5. Check on someone who might be struggling and call on someone to help with a heavy burden. Sharing the relief will be worth it! Share a chuckle or just a smile, if theres no sunshine, be the sunshine or take a step to begin the search for some.
6. Chill out and take some me time with a cuppa and a bit of crochet, or whatever feels nourishing.
7. Calm my breathing, mind and body by taking some slow and soothing calm deep breaths into the belly whenever I need it.
8. Create a lovely place to be in the spaces where I spend my time. Clutter can go elsewhere!
9. Catch myself drifting and be in the moment.
10. Collaspse into bed for an early night to refresh my body and mind!

I challenged myself to sticking with the letter of the week! Not easy to come up with 10 at first but towards the end, found I had more than ten! :)
I think I haven't looked for some of the simple things in everyday life that we can decide to choose or change, a bit like taking the scenic route! Will be mindful of those opportunities today
Thanks as always for an inspiring blog Lex! :) LP xx

Lex Mon, Dec 21st 2015 @ 11:45am

Stunning list... I think we'll let everyone else off with 5, LillyPet - stunning! Lxx

LillyPet Tue, Dec 22nd 2015 @ 12:33am

:) xx

susan Mon, Dec 21st 2015 @ 1:20pm

Hi Lex. 5 it is then (thanks LP). Today I controlled my grumpy mood and decided to get rid of it. Also chose to go out in the rain and wind rather than wait for the sun to come back (it was a refreshing choice). Chose not to let an IT problem get to me. Am choosing to read this afternoon, finding myself with a lull before the relative chaos starts up. (Before realizing that losing control of a situation was linked...for me...with despair and grief, I would have a meltdown when there was chaos.) Chose to comment here and thank you for your blog and your presence, Lex, and to wish you a very happy Christmas:) xx

Lex Mon, Dec 21st 2015 @ 5:00pm

Is that my Christmas Presence, Susan? (sorry, couldn't resist the pun!) Seriously, though, you're going through challenging times, so be gentle with yourself won't you? I can well imagine that pressing 'pause' will be the best gift you can give yourself this Christmas... and I know those pauses can be hard to find, but I believe you'll succeed the more you get into the swing of recognising those tiny areas where you can exercise control. Sending Warm Fuzzies. L'xx

danielle Mon, Dec 21st 2015 @ 2:02pm

Lex I do love your blogs! This is a brilliant exercise for reminding us we are in control of quite a lot. Today these are my ten:
1. I was able to choose what to wear, I opted for a cosy scarf whcih makes me happy - amongst other clothes too!
2. I am able to choose which lovely mug to use from my selection - i chose my christmas cup - I wonder if Bear and LP are using theirs today?
3. I am able to choose my snacks and what time to nibble on them, gingerbread and yogurt today.
4. I am able to choose what to have for dinner and what time to sit and enjoy it
5. I am able to choose what to watch on the tv tonight - probably catching up on 'The bridge' from the weekend
6. I am able to choose which crochet project I work on as I sit and watch tv
7. I am able to choose my shower temperature and whether I will indulge in a long hot one or a quick one before dinner
8. I am able to choose which pyjamas to wear - i have a huge array and love choosing my fluffy ones at this time of year
9. I am able to choose what to put on my food shopping list in preparation for the big christmas shop on christmas eve
10. I am able to choose whether I ring my friend tonight or leave it for another night

Thank you Lex. On a slightly different note, I visited GP today (mentioned last week) to talk about medication for anxiety, he has prescribed citalopram 20mg for a month, has anyone experienced this medication and whether it has any side effects xxx

Lex Mon, Dec 21st 2015 @ 5:04pm

Hi Danielle, I'll leave more experienced friends to comment on citalopram - but I am glad you've raised such a specific question. I think we could really help each other by contributing on such subjects. Now, to pyjamas... I LOVE your list! You had me at "choose what to wear" - since our clothes and colours and scents can all have such delicious deliberate associations! For me and obviously for you too, choosing what to wear is a part of an empowering ritual that can make (or break) a day. Off to put on my PJs now in your honour! L'xx

Dolphin Mon, Dec 21st 2015 @ 6:46pm

Hi Danielle, I was on citalopram and had no real side effects but was still feeling totally exhausted. I am now on sertraline and am feeling a lot better - less tired and anxious, less spaced out and on a much more even keel. I'm not sure if it is just the time since starting anti depressants (ie I might have felt the same on citralopram after the same amount of time) or whether sertraline agrees with me more. One odd thing was that all alcohol tasted really bitter on citalopram so I didn't drink any alcohol. On sertraline I am back to drinking wine, but a lot less and less frequently - my taste rejects too much. I would have hoped to lose weight with no alcohol (oh vanity), but no such luck! Thanks for the thought-provoking blog Lex, I'm choosing to think about it tomorrow and to clear more stuff off my desk now so I can relax with catch up TV tonight! I've got a file of blogs that are particularly thought-provoking to me so I can return to them when I want - thanks to all xx

Lex Mon, Dec 21st 2015 @ 8:30pm

Keep swimming, Dear Dolphin... sometimes it's upstream, sometimes downstream. This is the ebb and flow. Tonight, TV; tomorrow catch up with the blogs! L'xx

LillyPet Tue, Dec 22nd 2015 @ 12:47am

Well it's a yes to the Cristmas mug danielle! No I havent been prescibed that. Mine is pregabalin. Seems ok, but soon to tell. LPxx

danielle Tue, Dec 22nd 2015 @ 6:26am

Lex I don't think I realised until writing my reply just how much I enjoy choosing my clothes! I'm no fashion guru but have a few too many scarves and shoes I have collected and revel in the choice. I think I must like choice as I also have a wide selection of mugs, tea and wool! What luxuries- I will celebrate them thank you lex for reminding me xxx

danielle Tue, Dec 22nd 2015 @ 6:27am

Dolphin and LP thank you for sharing your experience with meds. I have awokem today with a bad headache very dizzy and a very painful and stiff jaw. Alas no nausea which is a bonus! LP wahoo for Christmas cups :) xxx

Dolphin Tue, Dec 22nd 2015 @ 11:02am

Danielle - did my further response come through? I wrote one, but maybe I didn't press the reply button. Let me know and I'll write it out again...

danielle Tue, Dec 22nd 2015 @ 3:05pm

I dont think so Dolphin xx

Rebecca Tue, Dec 22nd 2015 @ 9:09pm

I'm on citalopram, have been for years and no side effects I can see. I was suicidal before went on them and is such a relief not to spend so much time thinking about how to die. I am scared to come off and when reduce go downhill again but think if it works then what harm is there to stay on them. Maybe I just have low serotonin. Still have down days but nowhere near as bad as before went on them.x

Dolphin Tue, Dec 22nd 2015 @ 9:28pm

OK. So much for the alertness test in moodscope!! I asked how long you had been on the meds. For me it took some time to settle down and both times (with the citalopram and the switch to sertralin) I was weepy, despairing, woozy and unsteady on the feet for up to a week. After that, I started to feel the benefits. Like Rebecca, I still have downs, but they are nothing like as desperate as before. I wake most days with a low level headache but it lifts after a while. However, bad headaches and nausea don't sound good - I'd ask for a review if it lasts for two weeks. Good luck! It seems that prescribing the best anti-depressant is a bit of an art. xxx

Frankie Mon, Dec 21st 2015 @ 3:54pm

Hi Lex - I love this! Here goes ...

1. I can control the urge to cancel meal with friends (through feeling guilty about not getting Christmas stuff done)
2. I can control my response to the pressures of Christmas; after all, the best present I can give my loved ones is a relaxed me!
3. I can control the urge to solve problems which may never arise and visualise positive outcomes instead.
4. I can choose not to overindulge today - alcohol, Christmas goodies ...
5. I can control the time I go to bed - choosing a reasonable time which will enable me to sleep well and recharge my batteries.
6. I can control the messages I give myself, opting for gentle, forgiving, affirming messages instead of reprimanding, negative messages.

and, to nick one from I love fresh ground coffee this morning (welcome! love the name!)
7. I can control whether to view today as a gift or a burden

Thank-you Lex

Frankie x

Lex Mon, Dec 21st 2015 @ 5:05pm

You're always a gift to me, Frankie xx

The Gardener Mon, Dec 21st 2015 @ 7:08pm

By necessity I can only be a wet blanket in finding a happy list to provoke euphoria is impossible, having been told there is a distinct downturn in husband's condition - and worry from our medical team because I am so short of sleep I hardly function. But, here's trying.
1. not fresh ground coffee - but that first sip from the percolator in the morning.
2. Going across the square to get the breakfast buns
3. Following on from that - the liveliness of market setting up, and all the pals I've met.
4. Put sleep above a filthy kitchen floor - and make a 'treat' of sleep, comfort in the nicest room (conservatory with my birds outside) a merino blanket and a book.
5. Don't go to supermarket when exhausted, there MUST be something in a tin or freezer.
6. Do everything my tired brain can devise to avoid confrontation.
7. Accept all the help I'm offered, and use the 'free' time to live a little myself - particularly fresh air and exercise.
8. With an enduring love of interior decor enjoy playing on the web till I work out just what I want.
9. Make a real effort to get to know all my new neighbours.
10. Get Mr TG a wheelchair and walk by the river - this, of course, means having enough energy to get him out of house - at the moment preparing for a walk is too much of a challenge.

Lex Mon, Dec 21st 2015 @ 7:25pm

Dearest Gardener, this was never needing to be a happy list. It's a ruse to feel good through realising the little control points we have in each day. I think your list perfectly meets today's brief. Huge Hug, L'xx

the room above the garage Tue, Dec 22nd 2015 @ 12:25am

TG, I echo Lex, you have too much going on to feel pressured to provide happiness in here. Remember...its a word we none of us throw around lightly, indeed it is perhaps a little unwelcome at times. Treading water is good. I love your list and I particularly like your point 4. When dying on no sleep with my three young babies, my beautiful granny would regularly tell me "leave the housework hen, it'll be there when you're no". Wise words.

Dolphin Tue, Dec 22nd 2015 @ 9:49am

Strength dear Gardener xxx

danielle Tue, Dec 22nd 2015 @ 6:29am

TG I love number 2&3 - for me on a down day human interaction is so important. Don't forget to take care of yourself as well as Mr TG. We are all behind you, you are an inspiration to us all xxx

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