Mental Health, Motivational

What We Can and Cannot Change

Do you ever think about what you want to happen in a forthcoming situation? Or does worry get in the way and you tend to focus on what you don’t want to happen?

The Ego and Finding Fault

It seems our ego focuses naturally on the negative aspects, due to an outdated evolutionary adaptation and we are then in a postion that makes us hard-pressed to see positives.

Fault finding comes from believing your happiness comes from the world according to your liking.

We then tend to find fault with whatever is going on, to blame others or circumstances, especially where the outcome has been less than, what we consider, satisfactory.

This may have helped us survive in pre-historic times, where man-eating beasts lurked close by, but is hardly relevant to modern life. Now, our egos flood our brains with self-critical thoughts, most of which are not terribly accurate and anxiety quickly follows.

Photo by Anete Lusina on

Lee Jampolsky once asked a stressed-out salesman,

“What is the real purpose of a sale?

Replying about his own needs and that he wanted to boost his sale stats, Jampolsky then encouraged the salesman to instead direct his thought focus outwards – ie. so that his real purpose in a transaction or interaction would be that he was genuinely interested in the person he was selling to, in being patient and kind and, to try to ‘see’ the customer’s heart.

To the salesman’s surprise, his sales rose significantly and he was no longer so stressed when he followed that sageful advice. His customers picked up on those non-verbal and verbal signals that he ‘cared.’

Photo by Pixabay on

Contemplating Goals

Without the ego naturally defaulting to negative, there is room in our minds for all sorts of alternative thoughts.

Contemplating a more positive goal at the beginning of any situation may help influence the outcome, (even if you are not convinced of its worth, at first).

What Went Wrong?

Don’t waste your precious time on analysing what went wrong with a situation. Ignore those feelings that you have been short-changed in lifeas they tend promulgate the victim concept, which only makes you feel worse.

Think about what your goal is, making it pertinent to your perception and personal actions and see what happens.

We can attract the exact things that we give thought oxygen to or dwell on.

Jampolsky believes that we can direct ourselves to be peaceful inside regardless of what is happening outside.

Do you Agree?

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28 thoughts on “What We Can and Cannot Change”

  1. I once worked for a Producer (in Sydney) who had the admirable quality of never wasting time fussing over what had gone wrong. This was extraordinary; for Producers must rely on an entire team of people to get anything done. But John Sexton simply went forward from the place of the problem.
    He wanted to retire by the time he was 40. No idea if he did. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Absolutely and it and for some, they appear to be born worrying. They worry about change and unpredictability, seeking to control the uncontrollable. It is hard for them to embrace insecurity. Ironically to feel more secure you have to accept a level of uncertainty. Worrying doesn’t change anything does it? Just makes one feel shite.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Amanda, this lines speaks volumes.

    “We then tend to find fault with whatever is going on, to blame others or circumstances, especially where the outcome has been less than, what we consider, satisfactory.”

    We should set goals and envision success. But, we should also be prepared to deal with a less than successful outcome. While I don’t golf much anymore, a teacher once said to picture the shot before you hit it. If it does not turn out well, shrug it off and picture the next one. Golf is a game of managing mistakes.

    That is a good metaphor for life. And, like with golf, you hit the ball, so accept that it is your failure and deal with. There is a great story involving Bruce Edwards who caddied for two great golf champions – Tom Watson and Greg Norman. Watson would seek advice from the caddy and accept responsibility for the shot. Norman, who was as talented as any golfer, was wound a little tight, an Achilles Heel. He would blame the caddy far more than he should. He won two major championships, but had a chance to win several more.


    Liked by 2 people

    1. You mentioned picturing the golf shot, Keith and I do think visualisation can work some of the time, for some people. I think it is also something that gets better with practice, (perhaps it is dependent on the quality of the visualisation-I am not sure). But visualisation for me certainly does have a role, both in setting goals and obtaining a successful outcome.
      I also like the attitude of shrugging off mistakes and trying again. This sense of moving on, rather than dwelling on faults, on what cannot be or didn’t happen.
      Greg Norman is hailed here as a kind of hero, yet he has quite an ego and I am sure he was frustrated that he wasn’t a better golfer. Australians, generally speaking, have always had a bit of a ‘chip’ on our shoulders and this can, I think, affect our sporting performances. I would not like to caddy for Greg Norman!
      That reminds me also of a Wimbledon tennis final match between an upcoming younger Aussie player and Roger Federer. Federer was as cool as a cucumber walking up to the court, the Aussie was boucing on his feet and quite agitated and unsurprisingly lost the match. The Australian player did well at shrugging off and downplaying the resounding defeat by Federer, but his lack of confidence, insecurity, or ego, (which distracted his focus), was obvious.
      And as you mentioned, it is a good metaphor for life. Visualise, accept responsibility for thoughts, your performance, the after effects, whichever way it goes, lest our ego gets in the way of success and we shoot ourselves in the foot, or hurt others by blaming them for a lacklustre outcome.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks Amanda. Good comments. You raise a good point about visualization being improved by practice. Two comments. Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Outliers” on successful people includes 10,000 hours of practicing the craft as one of the four tenets. His first chapter is on The Beatles. When their record label sent them to Hamburg to play, they were not great musicians. In Hamburg they played seven shows a night six days a week. They had to learn new material or they would be bored silly, so they got better.

        The other is a golf comment. South African Gary Player answered a question by a reporter about a lucky shot that day. Player said “I have found the more that I practice, the luckier I get.” Keith


  3. I agree in theory. If I can be peaceful within, I can approach life’s situations with calm detachment, which gives ego the heave-ho. But it is easier to say that you’ll do that than it is to do it. Still my intention is set toward moving forward in life and not getting hung up on what isn’t, so that’s good, right?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I concur, Ally. It IS far easier to talk about being calmly detached than to maintain that aura outwardly on a permanent basis. That is partly the reason I write these posts – to remind myself when I slip back into old habits that are counterproductive for me. Intentions are the critical first step that we must return to again and again until they become set in stone. Regular practice does help.
      A lesson I learned far too late came from a former boss I didn’t particularly like: to always look forward, and never backward. Sounds like you have already worked that out.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I recently told a friend that I think I was born with extra chill genes. I don’t usually worry about things, expecting everything will work out. That is usually an advantage, but I know that sometimes anticipating what could go wrong would allow me to better prepare for the “what ifs” that do happen now and then.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You have made a great point, Janis about expecting that things would work out but being a little more prepared being helpful. I have had moments where in desperate worry I have handed matters over the the Universe to sort out, in my mind, comfortable in the knowledge that all will sort itself out and worry will not help me or the situation.
      I think the distinction may lie between productive worry – one that gets a person motivated to be ready for an event or happening, and destructive worry that doesn’t change anything at all and just makes the worrier feel rotten. If the worriers can identify the destructive worry, it may help them counteract it.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Problem solving is my life, always has been, with people & chores. lol. I live & work on our selection which I LOVE, doing all the hard yakka on my own so I daily have to problem solve & if I cant work it out depending on my level of frustration will depend on what my prayer sounds like. I have to walk away do something else not think about it & get back to it the next day. Usually with success. As for people/ situation well that would depend on if my PTSD is triggered or not, if it is I shut down, hibernate till I can function, I have no control over that. In every work situation where a boss or co-worker or even a customer has been nasty or harsh, I let it go, I cant change who they are in that moment, I don’t know what their going through, if I can I will quietly ask them how are you? Its amazing how many times I have seen rage turn to tears. Problem solved.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It sounds like you have developed some skills to pick up on red flags that a work colleague is teetering on the verge of am emotional breakdown. Rage, frustration, pent up emotions need a release and an insignificant thing – even a broken pencil – might be the final straw. Asking how they are doing is perceptive and is showing you care about them, and are genuinely interested in how they are. The response is radically different.
      Stepping back from a task – or problem on the farm and taking a fresh look at it in the morning is indicative of your wider maturity and wisdom, Linda. When a solution is not forthcoming, sleeping on it or looking at it with fresh eyes is usually really helpful.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I love your simplistic but uncomplicated view of the world, Lisa. Thanks for adding to the discussion. We need to let go of things not worth the worry, a little more often, sometimes.


  6. I’ve come to believe there’s a fine line between anticipating potential negative outcomes so one can be prepared and worrying over them. I agree that worrying is almost always counter-productive. I find I’m best off combining two pieces of excellent advice – think positive and work to impact what is actually within your power to impact. Worrying over what’s not in your control is like trying to keep a bus on schedule when you’re neither the dispatcher nor the driver. It’ll run you over every time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well said! Work to impace what is actually in your power to impact – excellent words that are easy to remember in the heat of a moment when clarity evades us. You are right, we can do better to direct our energies to what we can influence and change, or affect, rather than focusing on the how undesirable a situation is. One is pro- active, one is static and backwards focused. Thanks for your excellent and relevant input. Are you sending some photos through or will I add some of my own images to your guest post?

      Liked by 1 person

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