You may be feeling that life is a bit out of control right now. We are living in uncertain times, and many of the activities that we have previously enjoyed such as socialising with friends, going to the gym, out for a bite to eat or even simply going for a coffee have been put on hold for the indefinite future. Some of you may have unfortunately, been stood down from your job or have had to make the difficult decision to shut down your businesses temporarily.
An essential strategy for dealing with challenging situations is to identify the extent to which we have personal control or influence over these events. When we have little or no control over an external situation, we need to be mindful of how much time, energy and effort we attribute to worrying about that event. Otherwise, we may be ‘wasting our time’ getting stressed about something that is not within our control to change, which can become extremely frustrating and overwhelming. But, if we can exert, even a small amount of influence or control over a situation, then we can respond in a proactive way. We can create an action plan and set realistic goals to pursue.
Circle of Concern vs. Circle of Influence
We can conceptualise this process by distinguishing between our circle of concern and our circle of influence.
- Our circle of influence are things we CAN control e.g. our own reactions and responses
- Our circle of concern are things we CAN’T control e.g. extent of the spread of the virus, government regulations, how other people behave
The more time and energy one spends in the circle of concern, the more one’s circle of influence shrinks. This is a ‘reactive’ approach to managing challenging situations as one spends little time on the things that can be controlled and most of one’s energy on what one can’t control. This approach can lead to a negative cycle of feeling stressed and helpless.
But on the other hand, if one spends most of one’s time in the circle of influence, it will grow. This is a more ‘proactive,’ approach and will have a heightened feeling of security and control. So in the face of challenging situations, such as the current coronavirus pandemic, it is vital that one tries to put time and effort into those things that are within one’s influence, such as maintaining positive relationships through video or phone calls or text messaging, staying home as much as possible, avoiding non-essential shopping, practicing good hygiene and managing one’s own reactions and wellbeing.
Even short periods of time connecting (virtually!) with those who have a positive effect on our emotional wellbeing can provide us with the boost we need. As a result, you will feel more confident tackling adversities and will protect yourself to some degree from experiencing the negative consequences that follow from being stuck in the circle of concern. One way to stay in your circle of influence is to connect with your core purpose and meaning during this time. Have a think about what this might be. When we connect back to our purpose, it reaffirms the work we do and the actions we take, strengthens our identity in our role and allows us not to get caught up in the detrimental details of the situation we are in. And as a result, you can move on with a sense of pride and flourish in your productivity.
So why don’t you write a list of what is in your circle of influence and what is in your circle of concern. Work towards focusing your attention on those things in your circle of influence and less time in your circle of concern and notice how your stress levels respond and relationships thrive!
If you would like more information on how The Resilience Box can support your employees at this time, call the Centre for Corporate Health on 02 8243 1500 or emails us at firstname.lastname@example.org