How to Stop Focusing on Things You Can’t Control

A person on the couch with their head in their hands, frustrated and thinking about something

Verywell / Julie Bang

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Every Friday on The Verywell Mind Podcast, Editor-in-Chief Amy Morin, LCSW, shares the “Friday Fix”—a short episode featuring a quick, actionable tip or exercise to help you manage a specific mental health issue or concern.

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Friday Fix: Episode 102

Have you ever spent hours worrying about what someone might say when you see them? Or have you ever wasted weeks worrying about whether something bad might happen? I have.

I’ve spent many hours worrying about people and circumstances that I had absolutely no control over. And all that time worrying didn’t do any good.

In addition to wasting time, focusing on things you can’t control drains you of the mental strength you need to be your best.

Of course, it’s hard to give up worrying about things we can’t control. Our brains want to dwell on catastrophic outcomes or worst-case scenarios. 

It’s scary at first to acknowledge that you can’t control something. You can’t force your parents to stop drinking. And you can’t force your partner to love you. You can’t make your kids get good grades. 

You can, however, control how you respond to those things. You can influence people with praise and boundaries and by making your expectations clear. And you can work on managing your emotional response when things don’t turn out the way you want.

When you put your effort into the things you can control, life gets better. So on today’s Friday Fix, I share how to tell if you’re focusing on things you can’t control and five strategies that will help you stop doing it.

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By Amy Morin, LCSW, Editor-in-Chief
Amy Morin, LCSW, is the Editor-in-Chief of Verywell Mind. She's also a licensed clinical social worker, psychotherapist, and international bestselling author. Her books, including "13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do," have been translated into more than 40 languages. Her TEDx talk,  "The Secret of Becoming Mentally Strong," is one of the most viewed talks of all time.