Review of the “BUCKET”
We each have a bucket and it represents (and contains in it) all that we have control over in the world – ourselves. What does that mean? Let’s break down the “self” into these 3 things: our thoughts (beliefs, attitudes, thought processing), our feelings (emotional state), and our behaviors (actions, interactions). If you really think hard about this, everything and anything we actually control falls into one or more of these three categories. The edge of the bucket is your boundary past which you have no control. This is an important concept that we often struggle with because we want to have control over so much more. The bad news? We have no control. The good news? That means we are not responsible.
CONTROL/POWER = RESPONSIBILITY. What is the critical point here? We spend way too much time worrying about what other people think about us, how other people feel, or what other people will do. Trying to have control over things we actually do not control feeds anxiety and a sense of lacking control (even though we often believe that we are taking or having more power and control over others). Interestingly, letting go of this artificial sense of control (i.e., shifting focus to ourselves – our buckets) and directing our energy to improving our ability to think critically leaves us feeling less anxious, more in control, and more balanced. And this is where I will simply say, TRY IT!
You don’t get to worry about shit that’s out of your control.
Explanation: This is a little broader and somewhat overlapping with Rule #1 (i.e., You don’t get to worry about shit that hasn’t happened yet.) Rule #2 is important because implicit in it is an acceptance that not only is the future not in our control because it has not come to pass, but we are forced to truly consider just how many moving parts are involved in our fate. So, back to the bucket to answer the question of what is in our control and what is not. If only our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are in our control, then everything outside of our bucket’s edge falls into the category of “out of our control.” This rule reminds us that worrying about things we have no ability to change simply makes us sick. Like the expression goes: “Worry is paying a debt you don’t yet owe (and may never owe!).” Perhaps some of you are reminded of the beginning of the Serenity Prayer: “ God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference." The bottom line is, if we want a sense of control, then focusing on our own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors will, believe it or not, grant us enough of a sense of control in our own life to feel highly self-efficacious and confident, and ultimately hopefully content as well.
To elaborate, what this really means is that although you may wish to make your wife or husband happy, and you may wish to somehow exert some control over what people think about you, we must accept this stays at the “wish” stage. You may have influence in someone’s thought-processing (and thus feelings and behaviors), but only if they are open to what you communicate. Remember, influence really only happens if there is love, an existing relationship of some sort, admiration, or credibility. But that’s really the extent of it – influence. For this reason, it is simply wasted energy to focus on trying to change what lives in other peoples’ buckets. Our energy and emotion is better spent elsewhere (to be elaborated in Rule #3).
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