Blog Post

How to Accept Uncontrollable Circumstances

Life is full of unpredictable situations that may lead to frustrations and disappointments. If you are a traveler, take a minute and reflect on those times when your flights were delayed, baggage were lost, or missing a flight. How did you feel? What was your experience? Your emotional state? What did you do in the moment of disparity? Challenging situations are difficult to navigate and can cause a person’s emotional state to change rapidly. Let’s continue reading the blog to identify steps towards accepting situations that are unchangeable.

Steps Toward Acceptance:

  • Individual Check In – What are your thoughts about the situation? What options are available? What’s your emotional state? Completing a quick check-in can help prevent a difficult situation worsen.
  • Check Your Surroundings – How are other people around you reacting? Do you feel safe or threatened? Moving towards your safe space (cognitively and emotionally) helps you remain grounded and avoid escalation.
  • Perspective – Alternating your perspective and spinning a negative situation to a positive outlook can calm your emotional limbic system. Let’s say you arrive at the airport for a 5pm departure out of LAX and after getting to your gate, you receive a notification from your airline that your flight has been delayed a few hours due to maintenance. Your initial reaction can be “I can’t believe this, now I’m going to be stuck here for a few more hours!! This sucks and I must be compensated for this madness!” An alternate perspective can sound like this, “Oh well, that’s okay, I can get on my laptop and get some work done or read a book”.
  • Quicksand Analogy – Imagine stepping into quicksand and you begin to sink downwards. If you begin to flail your arms in panic (fight response), you will continue sinking. However, if you lay on your back and float (acceptance), you can then roll over and get out the quicksand. The more you fight against an uncontrollable situation, the increased chance that your situation will become worse.
  • Mindfulness – At times of distress, take a step back and view the situation in front of you from a bird’s eye view. Is there anything you can change? If the answer is yes, go for it and make things happen. However, if the answer is no, take a deep breath in and release out slowly while slightly closing your eyes. Refocus your attention on items around you. What do you see, hear, smell, touch, and taste? Focus on each item and describe each item in your mind’s eye. This technique can help de-escalate a situation and provide you with calmness.


Anxious thoughts and feelings tend to exacerbate when your thoughts are focused on ‘What if” situations. What if I fail my math test? What if I lose my job? What if my business fails? What if I get in a car accident? These situations are in the future and have not happened yet, but we worry about them. It may be helpful to focus on “What is” and being in the present to prevent the negative future possibilities. To avoid failing your math test, spend more time studying and focus on doing your best. To prevent losing your job, find ways to remain an asset to your company. Operating a successful business may mean that you need to make changes and possibly even hire a business coach. Driving safe on the road by paying attention to your surroundings will likely prevent an accident from happening.

Accepting situations that you cannot control is a mindset shift and takes practice. Our natural reactions and responses to situations can be learned behavior from watching how your parents managed difficult situations, your own experiences and worldview, and how you view or want to be viewed by your peers. Understanding the reasons behind your emotional reactions and behaviors is an important step towards change. Our skilled therapists utilize Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) approach to help individuals, couples, and families identify ways toward acceptance.


Our therapists at Nurturing Connections Counseling are ready to help you towards learning more about yourself, others, and making changes towards a calmer reaction. You deserve to feel happier and joyfully fulfilled.

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