My fingers were crossed, awaiting the stroke of midnight. For some reason, I hoped that the start of the new year would magically turn around the issues of 2020. But no surprise there! January 1st only brought a new day, not a new perspective, and not the end of a pandemic.

The pandemic isn’t just affecting people’s physical health. It is permeating all aspects of life: financial, emotional, spiritual, social, occupational and intellectual. People’s opinions are raving, and tensions are high. Watching the news is really depressing right now. I am overwhelmed because it feels like my world has become so hostile.

I found myself reacting to grocery carts being pushed in front of me, and cars honking because the light turned green a fraction of a second before I hit the gas. I become impatient when at the store because I feel the urgent need to get back home. The stay-at-home order sounds peaceful compared to dealing with all that.

When I find myself in an uncomfortable situation, I like to make a two-column list of “things I can control” and “things I cannot control.” So, here is what I learned from making my lists.

Things I Cannot Control

  • I cannot control if I get the virus.
  • I cannot control how my body will react to the virus.
  • I cannot control how other people choose to act during this pandemic or otherwise.
  • I cannot control if other people wear their mask and are careful concerning the spread of the virus.
  • I cannot control if stores and/or services are open or closed.
  • I cannot control if people want to see me or not see me.
  • I cannot control if other people allow me to have my own opinion.

Even though this list seems obvious, it felt really good to write it down. Once we have identified what we cannot control, it is essential to identify what is in our power to control. This allows me to see how much I am in control of myself and my personal space.

Things I Can Control

  • I can control how I am eating and taking care of myself. Am I exercising, taking vitamins, eating my veggies?
  • I can control how I will respond and act towards others. Just because someone is rude to me, doesn’t mean I have to be rude in return. I can spread kindness instead.
  • I can forgive others for their behavior. I gave everyone a “pass” during this pandemic. At the beginning, my anxiety was high, and I know I am not proud for stocking up on toilet paper or lashing out during a heated conversation or being impatient. I needed a pass and I am giving out “Get Out of Jail Free” cards too.
  • I control whether or not I want to wear my mask. I wear my mask most of the time. I choose not to travel. I stay at home. I am not upset if other people do these things because we all need to handle the pandemic the best way we can.
  • I control how much I want to socialize. The hardest part for me is not seeing my family. Some are strictly staying at home, and others are going out occasionally. Even though it is hard not to see my family, I can only control what I do.

Making these lists helped me to understand that each person has to do what is right for them and I have no control over what that is for someone else. I like just being concerned for what I choose to do. It helps me to be compassionate and understanding when someone else makes a choice that I disagree with.

Hopefully during this new year, we will see the end of the pandemic. But even if this continues for a while longer, remember that each of us gets to choose for ourselves how we will respond and react to each other and the situations we face. Turn the focus on ourselves and not pointing fingers at other people. We each control ourselves!

Featured photo by Miguel Bruna on Unsplash.