What is in Your Control? An Exercise to Help

In 12-step programs there is the saying:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, The courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference.

I’ve started saying this as I start my day and also throughout the day. It really has helped me to learn to assess my locus of control. It also helps me identify why I want to have some control over situations and maybe even people. For example, I have a son with serious health issues. I would love to control the outcome, make him completely healthy now! I realize that I want control also over my sense of helplessness, fear, and grief.

We don’t always have to go that deep, but in certain circumstances these insights can help.

Here is an exercise that can help you navigate what you have control over and what you don’t. It also helps you know if and what to take action on.

Make three columns and at the top of the first column write: In My Control

On top of second column write: Influence

And on top of the third column write: Not In My Control

So, in the first column I might write:

In My Control

My own self-care (the old “putting your oxygen mask on first…” suggestion)


Taking him to doctors around my schedule

Finding a grief therapist


Boundaries (a made up example: if he reschedules appointments and tells me at the last minute, I let him know he’ll have to figure out another source of transportation)

Not In My Control

Whether or not he follows doctor recommendations

His health

I have learned this exercise recently and I am finding it very helpful. Let us know if this helps you, too!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *