Carla can’t leave her work as a university professor, work that she now finds unfulfilling, because she’ll lose her tenure. Her thought: “I have no control over the system.”
Manuel’s co-worker doesn’t take feedback well, so Manuel works at home each night “cleaning up” the co-worker’s projects so their unit will look better. His thought: “I can’t control how other people are.”
Henrietta wants to be promoted to senior management but has been told she doesn’t have what it takes to make the leap. Her thought: “I can’t control what others think of me.”
It’s true. It’s not possible to control a system, another person’s behavior or others’ impressions. But that doesn’t mean either that Carla, Manuel or Henrietta have no control over their situation. What they—and we—can control ultimately has more power to affect a situation than any control we might try to exert over others.