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Top 10 Steps to Spot and Accept a Situation You Can’t Change

Sarah Fader
How to Accept a Situation You Can’t Change
The following article is part of a series that was created in cooperation with BetterHelp, one of the company’s listed on our site, to provide information about mental health issues.

Life is unpredictable, and there are things that we cannot change. Unfortunately, that can be frustrating. You may not know how to accept these situations. That’s okay, and it’s natural to struggle with those feelings. Here are some helpful ways you can accept situations that aren’t easy and move forward with more confidence.


1. Recognize what you can’t change


Before you can accept and move on from a challenging situation, it’s crucial to identify what the scenario is so you can learn to cope. Ask yourself - what is it about this situation that I can’t change. Generally, three things fall into this category: The past, other people, and the laws of nature. Write down everything you know about the situation you’re trying to cope with. Next, you’re going to tackle what you’re afraid of so you can face it.


2. What scares you?


What about this situation frightens you? Usually, when we don’t have control over something, it’s scary. You’re worried about what could happen. Instead of hiding from the fear, embrace it. You need to identify what scares you about the situation so you can conquer these worries.


3. What’s the worst thing that could happen?


Now that you know what you’re afraid of, you need to identify what’s the worst thing that could happen. When you don’t have control, you tend to think the worst. That might sound frightening, but ask yourself what’s the worst thing that could happen in this situation. Sometimes when you identify that and say it aloud, you realize that this is unlikely. That may make you feel better even though you don’t have control.


4. What is in your control?


There are things you don’t have control over in this situation, but there are also things you can do. Ask yourself: what can I control? Knowing that there are things that you have power over will make you feel better.


5. What is out of your control?


Next, identify what you don’t have control over. That may sound frustrating, but you can take this as an opportunity to let go. The things that you have no power over, you can release from your mind. These are up to other people. So, let those go and focus on what you can do. 


6. What action can you take?


Now that you know what you can and cannot control, it’s time to identify what actions you can take. Despite feeling out of control in this situation, there are things that you can do to help yourself. It helps you feel empowered to know that there are actions you can take. 


7. What feelings do you have about the situation?


You likely have a variety of emotions connected to this situation. Perhaps you’re frustrated, or maybe you’re angry. It’s natural to have different feelings about a situation that feels out of your control. It may help to write down how you feel and get it out. You can also discuss it with friends, loved ones, or a therapist.


8. What mantras or affirmations can help you accept the situation?


Mantras are short sayings that help you stay focused and grounded. You can adopt a mantra about this situation to make you feel more in control. For example, a mantra could be “I’m doing all I can.” Saying this aloud reminds you that you have some control even in difficult situations. 


9. Identify three coping skills you can use


Coping skills help us feel more confident at handling challenging life situations. For example, you might try deep breathing exercises when you’re feeling stressed. Or, perhaps when you’re feeling frustrated, you can go for a walk outside. Another coping skill may be to reach out to a friend for support. Identity three coping strategies you can use when you feel out of control. 


10. What is your goal?


Yes, you need to accept the situation as it is. However, you can still have a goal in mind concerning this situation. When you think about this challenging situation, what is your goal? Maybe you want your voice to be heard. Perhaps you want to protest something that is going on. Figure out what you want out of the scenario and go for your goal.


Focus on what you can do in therapy


Life presents us with difficult situations, and we can discuss them in therapy. Whether you work with an online therapist at a company like BetterHelp or find a counselor in your local area, you can gain empowerment when you see a therapist. You can learn the best ways to advocate for yourself through counseling.

Sarah Fader
Sarah Fader the CEO and Founder of Eliezer Tristan Publishing Company is dedicated to sharing the words of authors who endure and survive trauma and mental illness. She is also the CEO and Founder of Stigma Fighters, a non-profit organization that encourages individuals with mental illness to share their personal stories. She has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, Quartz, ADAA, Psychology Today, and more.

We invest a lot of resources into bringing you high-quality content. However, the information on this site should not be treated as professional advice, be it medical or any other. Before choosing an online therapy service, we recommend consulting with a physician or other professional healthcare provider. Please do not use this site if you or someone you care about are in a crisis or may be in danger. These resources can provide you with immediate help.