Wednesday, June 27, 2018

The Trichotomy of Control

(Revised 06/30/21)

When a problem or dilemma or otherwise anything at all is presented to my consciousness, I tend to ask myself: To what degree is this within my control? The answer to that question will point to the way I ought to engage. Three answers are possible.

1. This is within my control.
2. This is partially, but not totally, within my control.
3. This is outside of my control.

Let's say that I'm having a bad day because of the tweets from a politician. To what degree is that within my control? It is wholly outside of my control. I have no impact on the decisions of other people; therefore, I say to myself, "it is nothing." And I move on.

Let's say I am out of eggs. To what degree is that within my control? That is partially, but not totally, within my control. I can go to the store to buy a dozen, but since I am no egg farmer, I rely on the efforts of other people to bring me eggs. Once, during covid, the grocery store was out of eggs. I had to go without eggs. 

Let's say I have a tennis match coming up this weekend. To what degree is that within my control? Partially, but not totally. I control how hard I practice. I control how hard I chase down those tennis balls. But ultimately, whether I win or lose is only partially within my control. So, I focus on the part I can control, and to all else, the skill of my opponent, the lucky or unlucky breaks, I say to myself, it is nothing.

What is totally within my control is how I react to situations, something I am learning slowly and incrementally since my emotions don't always seem to be within my control, such as when something brings me to anger. Maybe I don't control that I felt anger, but I endeavor to control my actions and not let them be based on that negative emotion. 

I have a great deal of control over when I rise in the morning, my exercise routine, and the subjects to which I direct my consciousness. Currently, I'm studying the GNU/Linux operating system, for instance. 

I try to focus on what I can control, and to all else, I say to myself, it is nothing. 

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