You cannot tailor-make the situations in life but you can tailor-make the attitudes to fit those situations. – Zig Ziglar

All of us want to have as much control over our lives as possible. The thought of waking up in the morning and knowing how your day is going to go may be appealing, but anyone who has gotten a flat tire, been stuck in traffic, gotten laid off, or missed a deadline – understands that’s not really how life works.

Life is full of some great surprises, but they are not always guaranteed to be positive. For this reason, we must practice the art of controlling and deciding on how we react to outside circumstances.

Think back to your caveman and cavewoman ancestors. What surprises might THEY have faced?

Their day was filled with thoughts like: “I hope a bear doesn’t chase my family through the woods today.”

So, the primitive parts of our brain are still carrying these instincts after hundreds of thousands of years. When you get rejected, or feel lonely, your brain is nervous about being stuck in the woods alone with a bear.

When a relationship ends, your brain may wonder if you will ever reproduce or carry on your genes.

These may seem like extreme examples, but when you really think about it, it explains the emotional reaction we have sometimes when a shock first hits our system.

So, how do we begin controlling our reactions?

Start contemplating why you are feeling the things you feel in the present moment. Do not ignore the feeling, don’t pretend the situation isn’t happening. Instead, embrace it. Take it at face value and allow yourself to feel the emotions that come along with it.

Then, ask yourself WHY you’re feeling this emotion. Is it relevant? Is it proportional to the situation? Or should you be MORE or LESS reactive than you are being?

Is your primitive brain playing tricks on you? Perhaps a relationship is ending but deep down you know it wasn’t right for you in the first place. Maybe you are being laid off from a company that is already sinking like the Titanic, and you were hoping for a way out the whole time.

Maybe you are stuck in traffic, but it’s because someone’s child was in an accident up ahead, and suddenly you realize that is much more important than missing your meeting.

These perspective shifts may seem simple, but at the end of the day they put you in control of every changing set of circumstances you experience, and that gives you something many people wish they had:

Control over your own life.

Use it wisely.