What To Do If You Can’t Stop Caring About Things You Can’t Control

Updated August 18, 2023by Regain Editorial Team

We all have things we care about. We care about these things because of what they mean to us and how they make us feel. We care about being good parents, loving partners, and delivering on our responsibilities at work or school. But just as we can’t always control the things we think about, there are some things we also care about that are beyond our control. For example, we may care about the weather, but we can’t control when it rains.

Sometimes the things we care about involve us, like when we are preoccupied with our personal needs and expectations. Other times, they involve people close to us, like the deteriorating health of a relative or the difficulty of a friend going through a divorce. While it’s human nature to care about others, when you start obsessing over things you can’t control, it can negatively affect your mental and emotional health.

If your mind cannot stay clear of anxious thoughts and distressing feelings, then the following tips should help you take back control of your worried mind and manage your stress. These tips have been invaluable in helping me to control my actions. They have taught me how to not let things bother me.

Accept There Are Things You Can’t Control

Getty/Vadym Pastukh

You can’t always stop bad things from happening. As much as we all wish things could happen the way we want, this is never going to be possible. People who obsess over everything around them can become controlling. They may control many things happening, but they worry about situations they find hard to control. Sometimes being in control is your effort at maintaining order. No matter how much power you have or how intelligent you are, there are three things you can’t control:

The past — Life is not a sci-fi movie with a time machine that allows you to go back and correct past mistakes. In the real world, words spoken cannot be unsaid, and decisions made cannot be undone. However, instead of dwelling on negative emotions like guilt, shame, anger, and regret, endeavor to learn from your past mistakes and focus on your influence over the present. You may have wanted to give your child a better life, but as long as you both are alive, you can still give your child the good life they deserve.

The thoughts and actions of other people — You can tell people what to do and how to do it, but the decision will always be theirs to make. No matter how much influence you have over people, they can still choose to act in a manner contrary to your expectation. You can find more comfort when you make peace with the unpredictable aspect of human nature and keep a realistic impression of people.

Existential situations and events — Unexpected situations and events have the potential to turn the world on its head. You can have all the right ideas and intentions yet have your plan go wrong through no fault of yours. Remember that you can control how you react even though you can’t stop bad things from happening.

Keep A Journal

Writing down the conversations in your head is a healthy way to manage your anxieties and reduce stress. Journal writing helps you to acknowledge that your thoughts may be illogical and gives you a chance to examine the underlying concerns that keep you in a state of bother. By keeping a journal, you will be able to process your innermost feelings to resolve the conflicts that afflict you.

You can write as often as you want, about whatever situations you care about, without the pressure to filter your manner of expression. The emancipation that comes from emptying your troubled mind on a page should also give you the mental space to concentrate on more pleasant and productive thoughts that fill you with a relaxed sense of assurance. Writing down your thoughts can also help you notice how you cope with your anxieties, enabling you to pay attention to your stress.

Challenge Your Fears

One of the best ways to reduce your anxiety is not to give in to your fears. The Merriam-Webster online dictionary describes fear as “an unpleasant often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger.” Fear makes you apprehensive and agitated, hinders your capacity to see through the root cause of your scary thoughts, and makes you doubt your ability. Fear exploits the human desire for control, bombards the mind with the perils of consequence, and puts you in an irrational state where you obsess over your vulnerability. When you challenge your fears, it increases your chances of not being overwhelmed by the things you cannot control.

Below Are Some Suggestions On How To Challenge Your Fears:

Evaluate what you’re up against. When it comes to rising above your fears, the first thing you have to do is to identify your most distressing concern about the situation. Do you really believe you have no reason to seek a promotion, or is the thought of rejection the real issue? Be objective as you analyze the situation and identify your fears. When you can stop worrying about the situation, it stimulates the analytical channel in your brain for rational thoughts.

Focus on possible solutions. Instead of wasting your time ruminating about your fears, think about how to overcome them. There’s a good chance you are stronger than your fears. If you find yourself worrying over situations that seem beyond your control, train your brain to prioritize seeking solutions instead of wasting time ruminating over the consequences of failure. Think critically, read about how other people could deal with the situation you find yourself in, and research effective techniques and solutions to overcome the problem.

Don’t rush the process. It can be tempting to take on all your fears at once in a bid to overcome them as soon as possible. But the required mental effort to resolve all your fears may be too overwhelming and stressful. Many people try to do so many things at once, but ultimately they waste energy achieving nothing. When you are stressed, you are less likely to think with clarity, and whatever solutions you come up with may prove to be inadequate. When you can put your energy to good use, it will help reduce your stress and provide you with the impetus to tackle your fears one at a time.


Finding a safe space to discuss your troubles can be a good way to manage your stress. Don’t be afraid to seek clarification when you don’t understand something, nor should you let your concerns about someone else’s situation get the better of you. Instead of internalizing your discomfort, learn to communicate them to the best of your ability, especially when dealing with someone willing to provide you with reasons to stop worrying.

Regain has a dedicated pool of professional therapists that will help you differentiate between ruminating and positioning your mind to become a haven for positive thoughts. You can get started here.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is There A Thing Such As Caring Too Much?

Caring too much isn’t about doing all it takes to accomplish a task or to provide solutions to a problem. Caring too much isn’t when you go out of your way to make others happy unless it comes at the expense of your mental and emotional well-being. Being selfless is a good thing, and there is nothing wrong with wanting to please others when you can do so, yet there is always the risk that you may needlessly overextend yourself. When something you care about becomes detrimental to your happiness and health, it could be a sign that you may be doing a little too much.

What Are The Things You Should Care About?

Ultimately, this is for you to decide, but you should always prioritize things that don’t put your health at risk. This means caring about the things you do and why you do them. Caring about the things you think about most often and the effect of these thoughts on your life. Increase your effort and your attitude towards exercises that help you gain enough control of your thoughts.

If you notice you spend a lot of time ruminating about the lives and actions of other people, you should consider changing your behavior. Do not allow your misguided concerns over someone’s problems to derail your mental and emotional well-being. Learn to prioritize the inherent benefits that come with the things you care about and avoid those that leave you anxious and stressed.

Does Having An Anxiety Disorder Cause Overthinking?

Being anxious is synonymous with worrying, and when we worry, it tends to be a result of thinking too much about a situation. While being anxious is a normal feeling to have in response to awkward situations, people who suffer from an anxiety disorder experience this feeling at a more constant and intense level with no sense of control.

One of the many symptoms of an anxiety disorder is the tendency to overthink, and this can involve the most mundane thoughts to those serious enough to make you depressed. While overthinking is closely linked to anxiety disorders, you don’t have to suffer from an anxiety disorder to overthink. However, if you suffer from an anxiety disorder, take comfort because it can be managed and treated.

What Are Things You Can Control?

There are plenty of things you can control in life, especially with proportionate time and effort. You get to control your priorities and goals, and as an adult, you typically have much more control than you did as a child. Within reason, the things you can control often include but aren't limited to your own reactions, deciding where to live, deciding what clothes to wear, and deciding who you surround yourself with.

You may not control what happens at work, but you can control choosing to wind down when you get home. Similarly, you may not control a situation where a friend is in pain, but you can choose to be there for them. If you're struggling, you might consider making a list of the things you can control, no matter how small or large they are.

How Do You Get Over Things You Can't Control?

Affirmations and positive self-talk are two great tools for those who want to spend less time fixated on what they can't control. You can't control how other people act, and there are many things we can't predict, but there are areas in life that we have the ability to control. It's often beneficial to redirect your energy from the things you don't have control over to the things you actually can control in life. Using affirmations, redirecting your focus, and self-talk helps you reframe your thoughts and shift your perspective in many cases.

If you're struggling to spend your time thinking less about things you can't control, a therapist or counselor can help. It can be advantageous to have someone to talk to and support you as you work through your concerns and emotions, even when you have tools to cope with things you can't control. Regardless of what you're facing, you don't have to do it on your own.

When Are Things Not In Your Control Quotes?

Quotes about what to do when you can't control a situation can serve as an inspiration and often make excellent positive affirmations to use. Here are some quotes about control, quotes about when things aren't in your control, quotes about focusing on what you can control instead of what you can't, and quotes about things you can't control in life:

"You can't control the weather, but that doesn't stop some people from trying." - Frank Sonnenberg

"You can't control everything. Sometimes you need to relax and have faith that things will work out. Let go a little and just let life happen." - Kody Keplinger

"Life is to be lived, not controlled; and humanity is won by continuing to play in the face of certain defeat." - Ralph Ellison

"Never waste valuable time, or mental peace of mind, on the affairs of others; that is too high a price to pay." - Robert Greene

"You can't control other people's behavior, but you can control your responses to it." - Roberta Cava

"Love the life you live. Live the life you love." - Bob Marley

"Letting go doesn't mean that you don't care about someone anymore. It just realizes that the only person you really have control over is yourself." - Deborah Reber

"The more concerned we become over the things we can't control, the less we will do with the things we can control." - John Wooden

"The pen that writes your life story must be held in your own hand." - Irene C. Kassorla

"I learned long ago to focus on things you can control and don't even pay attention to things you don't." - Bryan Cranston

"Let it all go; see what stays." - Osho

"If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude." - Maya Angelou

"Invest your energy in the things you can control." - Steve Backley

"We can't control everything in life, that's for sure, but we can reach out to the people we love to tell them we love and care about them." - Ken Blanchard

"We may not be able to create or control all of the events that impact our lives, but we can create and control our responses to everything that we experience." - Ilchi Lee

"Let go of the battle. Breathe quietly and let it be. Let your body relax, and your heart soften. Open to whatever you experience without fighting." - Jack Kornfield

"Some of us think holding on makes us strong, but sometimes, it is letting go." - Herman Hesse

"When you try to control everything, you enjoy nothing." - Unknown Author

"Don't worry about what you can't control. Our focus and energy need to be on the things we CAN control. Attitude, effort, focus; these are the things we can control." - Tim Tebow

"If you want the light to come into your life, you need to stand where it is shining." - Guy Finley

"Incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over instead of craving control over what you don't." - Steve Maraboli

Why Do I Worry About Things I Can't Control?

It's common to worry about things you can't control. It's also very possible to work on this to worry about things you can't control less. Most of the time, when people worry about things they can't control, they don't like the projected outcome of the situation. When control takes control of you, it often has the unfortunate result of making a person feel more powerless, which is the opposite outcome a person wants to feel in control. Letting go and focusing on aspects of the situation that you can control, or at the very least, your reaction to the situation and the steps you take in life next can be very beneficial.

For example, let's say that you have a family relative who makes you feel bad about yourself no matter what you say to get them to stop. You can't control the fact that they make negative statements, but you can take control and focus on what you do in response. You may set boundaries, limit the amount of time you spend with them, walk away when they start to say something rude or distance yourself entirely. It can be empowering to remember that, as much as you can’t control the road or the other drivers on it, so to speak, you are in the driver’s seat when it comes to your own life. Most of the time, you won’t be able to predict what’s coming your way, and you won’t be able to control every circumstance, but you are in charge of the moves you make in many cases.

What Happens When You Take Control Of Your Life?

When you focus your attention on aspects of your life that you can control (and healthy for you to control), great things can happen. While there are plenty of things you can't control in life, there are just as many that you can control in life. You can decide to make a career shift, set boundaries, put yourself out there to date or make new friends, move to a new geographical location, and so on. Often, people focus on what they can control in life and take control in those areas because they achieve things they've always wanted to. You can build a life you love when you take control of what you can control in life and let go of what you can't control. If you're having trouble making the leap and taking control of your life, therapy or counseling can help.

Is There A Disorder For Caring Too Much?

Caring too much isn't a disorder, but symptoms like rumination can come with various mental health conditions, which can impact the way that you think and feel in your personal life. For example, conditions like anxiety can lead to negative feelings and thoughts, rumination, and excessive worry, which can sometimes manifest in feeling like you care too much. You may expend a great deal of emotional energy wondering about other people's opinions, and it might be tough to spend time focusing on the present moment because you may be worried about the past or future. If this is the case, a mental health professional such as a clinical psychologist can help. Seeing a clinical psychologist or therapist for professional help can also be effective in increasing self respect and self care, working on healthy relationships, shifting your focus from other people's opinions to your own, working on the ability to set limits or boundaries, and more. It can be helpful for those who are people pleasers, for those who have a self-described bad habit that they want to work on, or for something else.

How Do You Detach From Someone?

Detaching someone is no easy task. Often, time away from that person can be beneficial if you want to move forward and stop thinking about them. This may include time away from seeing their social media as much as it includes time away from interacting with them face-to-face. Healthy relationships often entail being with someone who cares the same way you do; someone who is able to put in the same level of effort. If you have difficulty detaching or moving on, getting professional help may be advantageous. People don't always see a professional for the same reason, and there is a wide range of reasons to work with a professional to improve your mental health and overall well-being. Know that, no matter what's on your mind, help is out there.

What Happens When You Care Too Much?

Caring is a positive thing, but sometimes, it can manifest as stress and worry. For example, you might care about other people's opinions or might have negative feelings due to fixating on one particular thing, even if you have no control over it. Prolonged stress can lead to high blood pressure and other mental and physical health consequences like trouble sleeping and an increase in depression or anxiety symptoms, that impact your overall well-being. It can impact your professional life and other important parts of your life, such as friendships and, if applicable, a romantic relationship or romantic relationships. If you experience perfectionism, which may be the case for someone who wishes to stop caring so much, remember that you are a human being who can only do what they can do. No one can do it all.

Is caring too much a negative thing?

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