Whenever you are faced with a situation that requires you to expend energy, there are three possible arenas in which you can focus that energy: the No Control Zone, the Influence Zone or the Control Zone. Picture these zones like a target. The outermost ring is the No Control Zone, the middle ring the Influence Zone, and the inner ring is your Control Zone. To unleash your positive energy, to allow this energy to freely flow, you want to aim your responses in the Control Zone.
Unfortunately, many of us have a tendency, especially initially, to put all our energy in the No Control Zone. When you are not happy or satisfied with a situation, do you rail against the situation, thinking it is the cause of your dissatisfaction? If so, you have sent yourself head-first into the No Control Zone. Because the reality is you have no control over the situation at hand. (Yes, you may be able to influence the situation, but more on that later.) When you believe the situation must change in order for you to be happy, you have disempowered yourself. You are now a victim to that situation. Here’s another common experience. You may know intellectually that you can’t control things such as the weather or traffic, but how many times do you still become stressed when it threatens to snow or there is a traffic jam? I rest my case. You have just zapped yourself of positive energy by landing in your No Control Zone!
You also can’t control what mood your spouse, child, boss or coworkers may be in. Yet how many times do you hear yourself saying, “I want you to,” or “Why don’t you” or “You should”? These statements tell you you’re in the No Control Zone because you want someone else to do something, but the reality is you cannot control the thoughts, feelings or actions of another person.
There are two other common No Control Zone responses which you can fall into without even realizing it. When you are obsessed about the past, you are in the No Control Zone. Remember, you can’t change the past. When you are worrying about the future, you are also in the No Control Zone, because you cannot predict the future. All of the negative energy you spend ruminating about the past or fretting about the future is wasted. In fact, you can only take actions in the present. Watch for your responses and thoughts that put you in the No Control Zone. They are energy drainers, and block off your positive energy flow.
You enter the Influence Zone when you try to affect the outcome of a situation. For example, you can try to encourage someone to do something by making a request or presenting your opinion to the other person. Whenever you say, “I would really appreciate if you would do this for me,” you are operating in the Influence Zone. Does that mean that the other person has to do what you want? No. It doesn’t even mean that they will do what you want after you’ve explained it. You can make your needs and wishes known, and the other person can choose to act on that information or not. That’s all you can do to let the other person know what’s going on with you. Whenever you enter the Influence Zone, it is important not to hold onto expectations about the results. Let your thoughts, feelings and needs be known, and then let go of the results. If you are not ready to let go of the results, you are actually operating in the No Control Zone, and are back to blocking your positive energy.
In Part Two, we will be examining the Control Zone.