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Control Issues

May 09, 2024
April Price Coaching
Control Issues

In an attempt to keep us safe and happy, our brain spends a remarkable amout of energy in places where it has no control.

For example, we can only make choices in the present moment, but have you noticed how often your brain time-travels into the future or back to the past trying to change or control things that it can’t?

Or maybe you’ve noticed how much time your brain spends thinking and worrying about the thoughts and feelings and opinions of other people? Again, this is a place where we don’t have any control because we don’t get to make other people’s choices, including how they choose to feel about us.

On today’s podcast, I want to bring your awareness to how much energy you are spending trying to control the uncontrollable and remind you that your most powerful place is the place where you have the ability to make choices. I’ll share a powerful visualization tool that will help you refocus your energy and your agency to control the things you can and let go of all the things you can’t.  


Welcome to the 100% Awesome Podcast with April Price. You might not know it, but every result in your life is 100% because of the thoughts you think. And that, my friends, is 100% awesome!

Hello podcast universe! Welcome to episode 262 of the 100% Awesome Podcast. I'm April Price and I want to welcome all of you to the podcast today, how are things? How are you feeling? To be honest with you, I have not really felt great since I returned from Costa Rica. It's been like nearly a month now. I got some sort of weird bacteria while I was there, and I was really super sick for a few days.

And then somehow I also got a really bad infection on my face and my hands, like in my skin. And for a long time they thought it was bacterial and I was on antibiotics and trying to like, put cream on it and like it just seemed to get worse. And then they decided, well, maybe it's a fungal infection. And so, then we went through around to that, and I just feel like that I have been to the doctor more in the last month than I have been in, like the last four years. So I just been yeah, I've been in it. And on top of all that, I have also been having lots of really what I think are awful and uncomfortable perimenopausal symptoms that are making things challenging for me and kind of miserable if I'm honest. And and so I've been like trying to go to the doctor about that. And on top of all that, I'm also doing all of this training for my marathon that is coming up a few weeks, and it is starting to take a toll as well. And so I'm just like wondering like, do I feel bad because I'm sick? Or do I feel bad because I'm old? Or do I feel bad because I'm exhausted? Or do I feel bad because running is the worst? It's just like, take your pick, right? The answer is probably yes to every one of those.

So anyway, I know you didn't tune in today to hear me complain, but you know, I've been in it and I found that like when I am not feeling good physically, I find it very challenging also to manage my brain. Like my brain is convinced that I'm never going to feel good again. And like managing your brain takes it a surprising amount of energy, right? To redirect it from the default thoughts and to to think intentionally. And so, when I am not feeling great physically, my body is like, yeah, I don't want to make any effort as far as like redirecting my brain. And so I get a lot of negative feedback from my brain, and there's not a lot of energy left to supervise and manage my thoughts. And my brain has been pretty squirrely and pretty critical, and I'm probably too unsupervised for too long. So anyway, it's already given me a lot of negative feedback about this episode, and we haven't even started it, right? So. But I told myself, like, I'm doing it anyway. I'm pushing record and we are doing it. And so I am glad that you are here with me.

And you know, I share all of that just to tell you that I am human. I am still having a human experience. We never get to the end of it, and we never we never come to the finish line. We never get it all solved. And I'll figure it out. And I just want to remind you of that. I don't want you to think that you're supposed to. That there is some magical place out there somewhere where you finally solve the puzzle of your brain and then therefore solve all the problems of your life, and you just feel happy and confident and content all the time. That place does not exist. Your brain just keeps me in your brain. As long as you are alive and mine is doing the same thing. All right? So just like adjust your expectations there, you are always going to be a human. And I have found like this last month. Oh yeah. There I am, still being human. I still have a brain that likes to point out what's wrong with me and how I'm doing it all wrong, and how life's unfair. And that's that is my brain doing its job. But yeah, we just keep going. We keep trying. We keep making an effort to have compassion for ourselves and create a life we love. And that's what I'm trying to do. All right. So today, anyway, I thought what I would like to do is just share a simple tool that I have been using recently has been really useful to me, and I actually want to apply it in two different ways today, and I hope that it will help you. It's a visualization tool that you can use, really, to remind yourself of your own agency, to figure out where you have some control in your life, and to use your energy in controlling the things you can, and letting go of the things that you can't.

I find that so many times when we're feeling bad, feeling negative about, you know, our lives or our circumstances, we're scared or we're worried or that kind of stuff, it's because we're trying to control things that we can't control, right? We're trying to control the. Wrong things. We're trying to exercise control where we don't have any control, and that makes us feel pretty bad. And I actually have felt this, you know, very keenly over the last couple of weeks when I haven't necessarily had control over my body and my health, like things are happening and like I'm trying to exercise over control, like make my body be different. And I don't have that control right now. And so what I have to do is control the things that I can. All right. So, I want to just start by saying that as I like to teach this tool is that as I'm recording this, I'm exactly one month away from my marathon. So, by the time you listen to it, you know, I'm going to be about actually three weeks away. And I signed up to run this marathon last December. It seemed like a really good idea at the time. It seemed like, well, that sounds hard, but I'm sure that that it'll be all right, and then I'll figure it out, and then I'll adapt and I'll change and I'll do the work and I will feel good.

But I don't really feel good yet. It's like I've been waiting to feel good about the running, and it's just not happening yet. And right now I'm sort of vacillating in this place between like, okay, I just am so ready to have it over and never have to do another run. Like, there's a part of me that just wants to get it over with. And there's another part of me that vacillates into, like, we're not ready and we're never going to be ready, and we're so scared that we don't have what it takes to complete it. And so, yeah, I'm just feeling a lot of doubts and a lot of fear and like having a real crisis of confidence about a month out. Right? I did my longest run yet last Saturday and went 18 miles. And like while I was doing it, my brain is like, what is running? I've never heard of it. Like, right. Like it's just like, just like we are not ready for this. I thought it would be easier by now and it is not. And that has me really worried, right, to tell the truth. And so I've been reading all these articles that say like, just trust your training. Doubts are normal, fear as normal, but you're going to be fine when you get to the race. And I'm just like, I'm not sure if that's going to be the case, right? I'm worried about my body being able to do it, and I'm worried about my brain and being able to like, control it and manage it. And of course, it's my brain that's always making these runs hard. And I'm like, ah, it's gonna get, it's it's about to get even harder.

So like, what am I going to do? Right? Like, my brain just has a lot of fear. And so I find myself in this place of like doubt and fear and then dread. Right. And recently with all of this fear and like I said, I've been reading all these articles, I've read this article that had this visualization and I've been using it and it's been really, really useful. So I wanted to share it with you. And I've been using it in my training. I've shared it with my clients who are who are not running marathons, just dealing with their brains. And so I thought it would be useful for you. And so I want you for just one moment to just stop and and take a minute to think about your thinking. Think about what you think about every day, where your brain goes. And I want you to notice how so many of our thoughts have a natural tendency to time travel, right? So many of our thoughts are thinking about what's coming next, what's ahead of us, or what we've done like our past, like the mistakes we've made or the things we did wrong, or the way we spent our morning wasn't the right way right? And like our brain is often, if you start to notice and you just start to watch and observe your thoughts, it it really doesn't spend a lot of time in the present.

It's thinking ahead about what's coming. Or it's like regretting and ruminating and reviewing the past. And right now, for example, my brain is spending a lot of time like worried about the future, worried about this future moment when I'm going to have to run this marathon. Like, I'm, like, worried about being capable about it and like, worried about the pain and suffering that is coming. Right. And when it's not ahead at that, at that marathon day, it's reviewing all my past runs and telling me, like pointing out all the things that didn't go well and how it's still hard and it's remembering how painful it was to run 16 or 18 miles and then like again, jumping forward to the future and projecting like, what's it going to be like to have to run even more than that, and then using the past and projecting into the future and pointing out how unlikely it is that I'm going to be successful, right? It's like keeps pointing out you've never run 26 miles.

But given how it was in the past when you ran 6 or 16, it doesn't feel very possible right now. Okay, so I just want you to notice how my brain is time traveling. It's going to the past telling terrible story. It's going to the future and predicting disaster. Right. And this happens to all of us. So, if you start to notice, I want you to just start to notice where your brain is and in a given moment, or maybe, maybe even more accurately, when your brain is in any given moment and notice that it's hardly ever in the now, it's often reviewing the past or predicting or dreading the future. So, this is where this visualization tool comes in. So I want you to for a moment imagine your energy, the energy you have to choose and make decisions and take action. Imagine your energy as a physical entity, okay. Like something that has a form or a shape that you can see physically. All right. Sort of like like the examples that they used in this article was like a ray of light or a string out in front of you. Okay. So like your energy now is a physical thing.

So, I like to imagine that my energy is this ray of light. And like whatever you pick to like embody your energy doesn't matter. You just want to give it some sort of physical shape that can extend out from you and literally travels out physically to connect to other places in time that you're thinking about. All right. So what I want to do is imagine my energy extending from where I am now out to that marathon date or if I'm thinking about a long run that's coming up this Saturday. And like that, energy is being extended outside of me in this present moment to Saturday morning. Right. And you want to imagine that string or that ray of light stretching out from you in the moment you're in to the moment that you're thinking about? Maybe it's in the past, maybe it's in the future. And I want you to, as you imagine that. Then you take a few deep breaths there and consider that image. Look and notice how it feels to have your energy extended so far away from you, either into the past or into the future. And and notice that ray of light or that string extending your energy, pulling your energy out from where you are now into that future or past moment. And I want you to see if you can physically feel the pull or the stretch or the extension of your energy leaving your body. Okay. You just take a few minutes and visualize that, and then when you're ready, what you want to do is visualize slowly bringing that energy back towards you, like retracting back inside of you into the present moment.

So, actually watch that ray or that string or whatever physical manifestation you have of your energy. Imagine it retracting. And as it comes towards you, notice how you feel. Imagine as you slowly bring that in that you can, that you can feel the surge of the energy come back into the now, the power of bringing like 100% of your energy back into the present moment. We want to be bringing our energy back to the now, because the now is the place where we have the power to choose, the place where we have the power to act. And when we're time traveling, notice, like we're out there, our energies out there trying to control a moment that hasn't happened yet or that has already happened like it's out there. Our energy is like trying to to take action or to influence a moment over which we have no control. Right? We have no power, no agency, no decision making ability, no ability to take any action or make any choices because it's it's not in the now. It's it's either in front of us or behind us, and we are transferring some of our energy that we have right here in this moment where we can choose and decide and, and use our agency and our power. We're transferring that out to a place where we where we have no power, where we where we can't make any choices. We're spending time and energy in a place where we have no power and no choices, and what we want to do is bring our energy back to where we do have power, where we do have choices, and that is always into the present moment. Right. I can't do anything about a moment a month from now, but I can make a choice right now, right? If I'm in the middle of a run, I can make a choice to just keep taking the next step.

I can make the choice not to stop. I can make the choice to encourage myself. I can make the choice to smile. I can make the choice to believe in myself. I can make the choice to encourage myself like I have power in the present moment I have. I can't do anything about a month from now. So just this morning, as I was doing my run, my brain was time traveling to the end of my run, right? It's just like, I don't want to be here. I want to be. I want to be in the place where it's over. I want to be the place where it's done right. And it's like I'm using my energy out in that moment instead of using it where it was right. So, I just imagined that ray of light coming right back into the now, filling me up, powering my muscles, using that energy to come back into my body and fuel the mile that I was in instead of like, you know, mile eight, which was clear out there. Okay, so I think this can be a really powerful visualization to use when you're thinking about moments that you're dreading or or moments that you're regretting, like, I don't have any power in the past. I don't have any power in the future. I have a power right now. How do I want to think about myself right now? I've got to come back here and bring my energy back here.

So, as I have been thinking about this and this tool, I think that there's another application of it that can be really powerful that I want to share with you today. So. Recently. Like I mentioned last week, I'm sure you're all aware that Taylor Swift has a new album out and and like, you know, it is the talk of our family chat and like pretty much that's all my daughter and I like text about right now we're just like gushing about this album. But anyway, so it's like on my mind, right? I'm thinking about it all the time, and I'm thinking about it and, and listening to other people talk about it and their interpretations and all of this stuff. And like there are reviews and thoughts about this album everywhere, right? Like, there's so many podcasts, there are so many posts, there's so many articles, you know, like there's a review in the New York Times and there's a review in Esquire and there's a review, like everywhere you look, somebody has an opinion and a thought and a verdict on whether or not this is a good album, whether or not this was like, she's a good musician, whether or not, you know, this album is worth listening to. And I've just been, like, amazed as I've watched this how, like, every single person has an opinion and they, like, everybody has feelings about it, right? And like some people are just like super delighted.

And there's other people who are just like so disappointed they, like, practically took their to their sickbed. Right? Like they're just so upset about it. And there are people who are just like celebrating, saying she's a genius and she's amazing. And then there's people who are just, like, so dismissive and just, like, excoriating her and like being like, oh my gosh, she's such a whiner. She's such a navel gazer. And like, do we have to hear about her feelings again? Like, let it go, right? And like the the spectrum of judgment about this album is just like, fascinating to me, right? And even the fact that she made a double album with like 31 tracks, like there are some people who are just like, oh my gosh, this is amazing. There's so much here, and there's some people who are just like, oh my gosh, like, this girl needs an editor. Like she has too much power. She should not be able to publish 31 tracks. We could have done it with half of them. Right? And they're just like so critical of it. So I've just just been observing that and watching that in the world. And I started thinking about like, what does she think when she hears all this? Right.

Like there's so many different opinions. It's like some people think it's brilliant. Some people think it's terrible, right? And I started thinking about like if Taylor Swift was listening to all this feedback and listening to all these opinions and reading all these articles, like if she was trying to figure out, am I a good musician? And is this a good album and is my work good? If she was trying to figure out if she was good at her job, and if she was talented by looking outside of her like she's going to be in trouble, right? Because in some cases she's going to feel amazing and she's going to think she's like the greatest thing ever. And in other cases, she's going to feel like a failure who has no business ever writing another song. And notice that for her, how scary and vulnerable that is. Because if she's looking outside of herself. She has no control over those opinions like it's not her or her music creating that those opinions. It's other people's interpretation, creating those opinions. And so if she's good or bad, musician is dependent on whoever's listening to it and whoever's deciding and she can't control that.

And the only reason that I point this out is to remind you that it's true for you as well, that if you're looking to find out if you're good or if you're valuable, or if your work is good, or if you're talented or or any of that, if you're lovable and you're looking outside of you to other people's opinions and letting them inform you about whether or not you're good, then that's going to be a really scary, vulnerable proposition. Like like you can't control what other people think anymore than Taylor Swift can, right? And I want you to think about this visualization in the same way. Like if my energy is focused on other people's opinions outside of me, and that string of light, that string of energy is like out there outside of me trying to control and and make other people think certain things about me. Then, like all of my energy is focused in a place where I don't have any control. Right. I need to retract that energy back inside of me and decide what I want to think, what my opinion is, because I don't have any control over what other people think.

I can only control what I think. Right, like all Taylor Swift gets to decide is if she approves of her music, if she thinks she's a good musician, if she wants to share her music with the rest of us. That's where her control begins and ends. She doesn't get to control what happens after she releases it into the world. She doesn't get to control whether we like it or approve of it. And that is just as true for you and your contribution in the world. All you get to do is be you, and that's where your control begins and ends. After that, other people get to decide for themselves. Right. And I want you to think about how much energy I spend outside of myself, in places where I don't have control. Right. In other people's models. And by that I mean their thoughts, their feelings, what they think and feel about me, what they do to me, the way they treat me like I just don't have any control out there outside in their models. You can't make decisions outside of the present moment, right? You can't make a decision in the future or the past.

You can only make decisions now. And in the same way, you can't make decisions or choices in other people's models. You can't choose for them what they think and feel about you. You have no choices there. You have no power there. You have no decision making ability there that their model is theirs. And the only person who gets to make choices inside of their models is them. So notice that if we want to feel approved of or appreciated or loved and our energies extended outside into other people's models, right? Trying to get their appreciation or love or approval, then all of our energy is in a place where we have no power. And we want to bring that energy back inside. We want to stop trying to control things that we don't get to control. And trying to make choices we don't get to make. I have no agency in anyone else's head, in anyone else's model. I don't get to choose. I don't get to choose how they think about me. I don't get to decide whether they approve of me or not, and yet notice how much energy we spend outside of ourselves, in other people's models, in a place where we don't have control. And so again, I think this imaginary string exercise, or imaginary ray of light can reveal to you where you're extending your energy and figure out, am I extending it into a place where I have power and ability to choose and make decisions? Or is it like outside of me?

If you find yourself worried and like ruminating on what other people think of you, try to make that energy physical. And like a physical extension and notice where it's located. Notice if it's located outside of you on the other person in their model. And again, take a few deep breaths while you consider that image, and notice how it feels to have your energy extended out so far from you in a place where you don't have control. And see if you can again begin to feel that physical pull in your body outside of you. And then when you're ready, visualize bringing that energy back towards you. Watch that. That ray of light or that string. Retract back inside of you and as it comes toward you. Notice how you feel. Notice how you get your power back and when it's inside of you, then we can use it. We can use that energy to approve of ourselves, to solidify our own opinions of us, to decide how we're going to think about ourselves. All we ever get to control is what we think of us.

And so we need to use our energy where we have some power, where we have the ability to choose. And that is always and only inside of us. Like, I really think it's kind of remarkable how much energy our brain spends in places where it has no control, right? Like like our brain is supposed to be, like, really concerned about energy efficiency. And yet it spent so much time, time traveling and so much time in other people's models. And and both of these are places where we have no control. We can't control any other moment than the now. We can't change the past. You can't control the future because you can't make any decisions or problem solve in a moment that you are not in. But like just notice. Just watch your brain and notice how much energy we spend in in those places, in other places, in other time periods and bring that energy back to the now. In the same way, our brain spends an amazing amount of energy in the thoughts and feelings and opinions of other people. A place again where we don't get to make any decisions or choices. We never get to control what other people think about us, and we gotta bring all that energy back inside and decide what we're going to think about us. Remember that your most powerful place is the place where you have the ability to make choices. That's always in the present, and it's always in your own model. And that, my friends, is 100% awesome. I love you for listening and I'll see you next week.

Thanks so much for joining me on the podcast today. If you're serious about changing your life, you first have to change your mind. And the best way to do that is through coaching. I work with my clients one on one to help them change their thoughts and their feelings about themselves, their lives, and their challenges so that they can live a life they love. If you'd like to work with me one on one, you can learn more and schedule a free call to try coaching for yourself at


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