Out of Our Control

Posted by Kirk Sweet on August 24, 2022

Kirk Sweet 189Friday morning, I woke up to several missed calls from my roommates. Typically, they don't call to chit-chat with me at 6:30 am while I’m on vacation visiting my girlfriend's family, so I knew that something had to have gone wrong back at home. With my head spinning, I quietly went to the worst place in my mind. I thought, “Juni (my beloved dog) must have run away or got run over.” As I wiped my tired eyes and called them back, I braced for what could have been some of the most devastating news I’ve heard in a while. My roommate somberly answered the phone, I convinced myself I would never see my dog again, and he responded, “Did you let anyone borrow your car while you while you’re gone?”

Juni was alive and well--although someone had just stolen my car. In deep relief, I thought, “I can replace a car, but I can't replace Juni.”

Screen Shot 2022 08 24 at 3.12.11 PM

This event was out of my control, and I understood that immediately. I could freak out and yell about my missing car, which is probably something a not-so-much-younger version of myself would have done. However, my perspective shifted knowing that none of my loved ones or loved dogs had been harmed.

This practice of knowing what is in my control and what is out of it is something I have been trying to interject into my life more and more over the past couple of years. Yes, having my dog run away would have been out of my control as well, however, I allowed myself to see the event from a different perspective, to understand there are much worse things that could have happened and all of this was out of my control. And I was proud of myself for recognizing that.

This incident and the way I responded to it made me think of the work we do at Evoke Intensives, our Intensive Therapeutic Retreats.

Many of the things I used to get angry about when I was growing up as a teenager usually revolved around things that were out of my control. Stewing over not having some of the things I wanted right when I wanted them, or my Mom needing to use her own car when I wanted to go out with my friends. Or even more recently in life, when building meaningful relationships with others. I would share an opinion that I held dear or share a vulnerability with a partner or friend, anticipate a certain reaction, then get upset when they didn’t respond in the way that I was hoping for.

It can still be frustrating when those we love don’t follow through with what we expect them to say or do when we share something vulnerable or ask them to do something. For example, when we tell someone how much we care about them for the first time, and they aren’t ready to say it back. It can be a detriment to our own ego to expect everyone to react just how we would like. One day soon they might tell you that they feel the same way; but today they just weren't ready--or maybe they never will be. It is not within our control to force others to feel any type of way, and it can create an unsafe environment within a relationship when we become reactive about reality not reaching our own pre-conceived expectations.

At Evoke Intensives, one of the tools that our participants learn about is called the “Three Circles.” The lesson comes from the thought that we all need to do our own work within our own circle, i.e. the parts of our own lives that we have control over. Typically, when we step into the circle of another person, such as a partner, parents, or child, we can become attached to an outcome, and the other person can become resistant to our intervention, causing tension within the relationship. In reality, we don’t have control over anything in their circle, like their actions, thoughts, or emotions. We can only control what is happening within our own circles. When two people are open to it, we can both step into the third circle, which is the shared circle of our relationship. Here we can offer our thoughts and opinions, without expectation on the other, and they can offer the space of listening to what we have to say.

When we walk through life, into new situations, and into communication with those we love, having a lack of expectation and an increased amount of curiosity can often lead to a happier life and stronger bonds. When those around us feel safe and respected without condition, to me, that is where the true beauty of our social bonds lies.

So whether your car gets stolen, or you create a new boundary for yourself that others may not like, or you share something important to you that isn’t received just how you would like it…learn to let go of what is out of our control. It changed my life.


This brought tears to my eyes... The tears of joy when you hear a truth, tears of sadness when you remember the hurt that could have been avoided by applying this truth, but most of all tears of pride that my nephew is such a wise and good man. ❤️

Posted by Karen Simon

Post your comment