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Self coaching tool #2: Circles of control

Increasingly, I am working with clients who are feeling anxious and overwhelmed. This tool is a really useful and practical place to start. I often use it myself for self-reflection too, and to help me decide where to focus, so I hope you can use it the same way.

First, make a list of all the things you are currently worried about. List everything you can think of, big and small. Then draw three big circles like these:

Looking at your list, identify all the issues that you can control. Place these in the central circle. These will include your actions, your behaviours, your choices and your responses.

Next, identify those issues that you cannot directly control, but which you can influence. These might be issues you can raise with other people who can control them, or decisions you contribute to, or even other people’s responses and feelings.

The issues you have left are entirely out of your control. Place these in the outer circle, the circle of concern. These will include things like the actions of world leaders, government policy and whether your train is on time.

This isn’t to say that they don’t matter, but to acknowledge that there isn’t anything you can do about them - that they are not your responsibility. With this in mind, are you able to let go of them or at least ‘park’ them?

Now you have identified where your energy is best spent. Focusing on the things you can control or influence will help you feel less anxious and more in control.

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