By Michael Klinkner – MSW, LCSW (Evolve Counseling)

Worry can be really rough, and a lot of people experience it. Worry is centered on trying to control and change our circumstances so that we don’t have to be so afraid. Unfortunately, what people worry about are mostly the things that they cannot control. That can easily overwhelm us. We can’t influence or change many of the things we are worried about. That may sound rough, but don’t’ worry. There is a solution. By focusing on things that we can do something about, we can be more effective, get more done, and feel more satisfied in our work and personal life.  We can also teach this approach to our kids to apply to their own lives as well.


Let’s talk about the different circles in the image above. We’ll start from the outside and move toward the center. First up is the Circle of Worry.


We often confuse influence with control and overestimate how much we can do. We lose sight of the fact that we have no control and often little influence to be able to change others and their choices and circumstances. We act as if we can control (or at least influence) many things in our lives.

This is often the case with family members and people close to us. Due to our close relationship, we think we have influence. But we all know that, in reality, that doesn’t mean our kids, significant other, coworkers, friends or family will do what we ask when we need. So, even within your Circle of Worry, you need to be realistic about what you can do. Outcomes and other people are outside of your control or influence.   But, ironically, these are the things most people worry about. People spend much of their time worrying about the things they cannot possibly change. That’s the worst part of Circle of Worry. It takes up all of your time and energy, but there’s nothing you can to about it.

Next is the Circle of Influence.


Problems or people in our circle of influence are not in our direct control, mostly because there are other people involved. These other people have their own ideas, agendas and problems. For your circle of influence, this is all about relationships. Your relationships with your kid(s), your relationship with your spouse, your relationship with your significant other, coworkers or friends will have a huge part in your influence on these people. Also, your ability to communicate effectively will play a big role in your ability to influence others: “The best we can do is change our methods of influencing others.” -Steven Covey.

And saving the best for last is the Circle of Control.


These problems are directly within your control because they are related to your own habits and behaviors. It’s all about what you do and how you are. Now, on one hand this seems really easy. You can control yourself and how you behave. But, it’s a little complicated.

Those issues within your circle of control mean that as soon as you get better about working on your behaviors, things get better. That’s a lot of pressure. Plus, those things in our circle of control tend to be those things for which we procrastinate, make excuses, and justify. And it seems reasonable to yourself when you are doing it! After all, the only person is you. You can control your efforts and you can control your attitude while making those efforts. And that’s it!

When an issue comes up, there are three questions you can ask yourself to ensure that you are focusing on your Circle of Control and not wasting your time and energy trying to change the things you cannot change. It’s all about What, Where and What.

Here are the questions:

  • What’s going on in my body?

-What are the physical sensations that are coming up for me?

-What do I notice about my experience in this moment?

  • Where’s it coming from?

-What’s the trigger that causing the reaction in my body?

-What is the difficult person/situation/thought that I’m dealing with right now?

  • What do I need right now?

-What will help me in this moment?

-What will make me feel at least a little bit better?

By asking yourself What, Where and What, you’ll make sure to stay in your Circle of Control You’ll feel more in control of your life, your work and your personal relationships. It may seem like a small thing, but this small thing can make a very big change in your life.



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