Have you ever listened to someone and wondered if they were looking for a chat or a therapy session? With the ongoing challenges castigated by Covid-19 people have all the reasons to worry. Actually most of them have reasons to complain. We however cannot be complaining the same way we complained an year ago when Covid hit. We now know better and should have built a certain level of resilience.

I have however been receiving a number of concerns and requests. My worry is not the rising concerns; it is the amount of negative energy that comes with it. Sometimes you actually do not think through the current and future effects of covid until you sit through a discussion of the same. The irony of it is that the discussions are facilitated by self-appointed analysts who are eager to justify their views.

Last week was even more peculiar for me. I received calls /chats from people who have not contacted me for years. As culture has it, the conversation starts as if they are just checking on you topped up with a mention of an issue they need help with. It is then followed by a long narration of misfortunes. This is the phase where you listen until your ears get tired. Your energy starts to fade away and worse you start feeling as if the world is a bad place to be in. If the conversation caught you in the middle of something else you totally get distracted.

I am not discrediting the need to speak out our pains. This has its place especially if you booked a session or requested that I spare some time because you need to discuss an issue. I have a problem when it pops out of what was meant to be a quick chat or you checking on me. It is even worse when it is full of negative energy. When it is so focused on the problems and the person portrays helplessness and victim nature in all aspects.

In every discussion my interest is normally on 2 things; 1) What happened? 2) What is the way forward? The first one helps to identify the root cause of the problem. If you do not attach an issue to the cause you will remain in a cycle of similar issues. It also helps to remove the blame and focus on the issue. The second part focuses on moving forward. What is the point of bringing up an issue if you are not willing to find and commit to a solution? Ruminating on the problem is never part of my focus. Whining does not solve anything, it increases negative energy and makes you feel more helpless.

The continued whining by people reminded me of a concept by Dr. Stephen Covey, in his classic book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, he introduced a tool that I treasure. In his view every situation can be divided into two circles; The circle of concern and The circle of influence. The circle of concern consists of factors we have little or no influence on. These include; The news, the economy, Covid-19, political issues and other people’s behavior.

The circle of influence consists of things that you can control. These include; Your attitude, your behavior, what you watch, what you read, who you surround yourself with and what you buy.

If we focus on the circle of concern, we allow what is in it to control us. If we focus on the circle of influence, we are the ones in charge. It’s okay to be afraid, we all do but understanding where to channel our thoughts and energy can help us to think more clearly and navigate during uncertain times.

What you focus on enlarges. If you focus on what you cannot control the more helpless you feel. If you focus on what you can control the more grounded you become and your mind can be calm enough to find a solution. Each circle will expand or shrink depending on where you put your focus and energy.

Challenges are a constant in life. You choose whether you want to react to them or respond. Those who effectively navigate focus their time and energy on what they have control over instead of wasting their time and energy on things they cannot control. In the words of Stephen Covey, “You are not a product of your circumstances, you are a product of your decisions.”

Next time you feel stressed or overwhelmed by a situation ask yourself,

  1. Where am I spending majority of my time and focus?
  2. Is it the circle of concern or the circle of influence?
  3. What can I do to expand my circle of influence and build more positive energy?

“Focus on what you can control and don’t waste your energy on things that you cannot control”


Image Courtesy of; Pexel.com

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