If we ever needed a reason to rejoice, it's right now. When terrible news dominates the headlines, it's easy to fall into the trap of anxiety and stress. At times like these, we need to do our best to slow down these negative thought cycles by being mindful of how we manage our mental energy.
What do you spend your mental energy on? Are you in control of your thoughts? Or are your thoughts controlling you?
Considering that the average person has about 50 thoughts a day, it's no surprise that when we let our guard down, we can sink into excessive worry and overthinking. Never before has it been like it is now. By being mindful of where we direct our mental energy, we can focus on productive thoughts and ideas. This can be critical to boosting our resilience and maintaining a positive mindset even in times of high uncertainty.
Proactive people take charge of their lives and decide to focus their attention on the things they have influence over. On the other hand, reactive people devote more time and mental energy to things they cannot control or influence.
In fact, we always make a choice between two patterns of behavior. We can let things within our Area of Concern dominate our thinking. Areas of concern are circumstances that may affect daily life, but we do not have direct influence on them. It includes everything that we personally care about, including politics, the environment, and even a rude saleswoman in a grocery store. That being said, all these worries drain our mental energy, but worries alone don't make them go away. Or we can let things within our Area of Control drive our behavior.. Our Area of Control is the things that bother us and that we can do something about.
If we accept the circumstances in our Area of Worry as fact and decide to redirect our thinking to action rather than worry, our Area of Control will become larger and the Area of Worry will shrink. We need to be alert when we start to feel anxious or overwhelmed and ask ourselves, "Am I in my area of concern right now?" If the answer is yes, then we need to decide what we can do to break this thought cycle and replace it with action that takes you back to the Realm of Control.
Externally, the process of expanding the Area of Control is simple and accessible. It is a process of regaining a sense of freedom of action when at first it seems that there is none. This is a great tool to help us discover that we always have more power than we first thought.
Being proactive means acting on what you can control and working to expand your Area of Control and do what you can instead of waiting for something to happen. The key is to focus your energy on things that you can influence so that you can make effective changes. If we do this, then the Area of Control begins to expand, and others will see us as an effective person, and this will also increase our strength. Conversely, if all of our energy is directed towards something we cannot change, our area of control will shrink. Not only do we drain our energy, but other people may begin to perceive us as an overly negative and critical person. Knowing how far our Area of Control extends is an important aspect of personal effectiveness. As well as forming partnerships and alliances, we may not have direct influence over something in our Area of Concern, but we may know other people who do. Thus, in reactive people, the Area of Control narrows, while in proactive people it increases. It is important to remember, however, that a team almost always has a wider Scope of Control than an individual.