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How To Take Control Of Your Life by Mel Carnegie

If you often find yourself in situations where you feel helpless and resign yourself to that feeling, then Mel Carnegie suspects you’re missing out on a good deal of enjoyment.

I’d like to explore the power of choice, and how the more conscious you are with your responses, the better you can handle situations, enjoy the process, and create a fulfilling life. Jack Canfield explains this with his formula for success: E + R = O (Events + Responses = Outcome). He says that when people don’t like the outcomes they are experiencing, more often than not they blame the event (E) for their lack of results (O). In other words, you can blame your partner, your boss, the economy, lack of support and any number of things when things aren’t going your way. That in itself won’t change a thing.

I know from experience how difficult it can be when things don’t turn out the way we expect. I didn’t expect to be orphaned, nor did I expect to live with abusive guardians – and I certainly didn’t expect that my soulmate would turn out to be a sociopath! It’s easy for people to fall in to the trap of blaming what happens to them for the way they feel, and they soon feel frustrated and angry at the world. I have certainly fallen in to that trap myself.

Over the years I’ve found the key to the vast majority of situations is to understand what you can influence, no matter how small that may be. As soon as your focus shifts from what you can’t do to what you can do, that’s when the magic starts to happen.

So think about some of the things you can always control no matter what – simple things like your breathing, your tone of voice, the speed you walk. “Well, yes Mel, those are obvious!” I hear you say. I agree, they’re obvious when you think about them, but how about the times when you feel out of control, or just generally dissatisfied with your lot? Do you automatically turn your focus on to what you are able to do in the given situation?

At DeNA Revolution, this is what we mean when we talk about ‘responding with rigid flexibility’, because your power lies in your choices of response in any given situation. It’s your responsibility (your ability to respond) that will lead you more quickly into a fulfilling life. Easier said than done? Well yes… then again, perhaps much easier than you might think.

Here’s something that might help. Remember Kitchener’s famous recruitment poster, pointing out with the caption “Your country needs you!” Good. So now think about

something or somewhere in your life you’d like to improve: family, work, or relationships. Then imagine that situation is in front of you, and point your finger out towards it.


As you look at your hand, notice that while one finger is pointing out away from you (to the ‘event’ as Jack Canfield calls it) there are three fingers that are pointing back towards yourself. This is your clue. This is how you can remind yourself to ask questions that will allow you to free up your options. Your three fingers can stand for three questions:


  • What would I like to change about this situation?
  • How would I like to feel in this moment?
  • What can I do about it right now?


This allows you to access areas in your mind to start creating solutions for yourself – even if it’s just a tiny thing. Even if the only thing that you can affect is your breathing in the moment, as soon as you focus on that you’ll feel calmer and more resourceful. As you feel calmer and more resourceful your mind becomes freer and you can explore ideas that may not have been apparent before.


Remember, it doesn’t matter what the situation is, you can always choose to focus on what you can do in the moment. Then you can do something about it and even enjoy the ride.


If all else fails have a go at this one. Pick up a pencil, put it between your teeth and hold it there – notice how that makes you smile? And so what happens when you smile… Ah yes, it immediately makes things brighter in your world.


Recommended reads


Robert Dilts
Pathways to health and well-being


Richard Wiseman

Did You Spot the Gorilla?

How to recognise hidden opportunities


David Schwartz

The Magic of Thinking Big

Set your goals high…then exceed them!





Mel Carnegie

Professionally, I work as a leadership and change development coach, helping business leaders and their teams to achieve their best potential. I love what I do with a passion, because I am driven to help others succeed, particularly through times of change and challenge. Coaching and developing leaders and their teams has been my chosen career for the past fifteen years. I love my work with a passion. I still get a huge buzz whenever a client makes a breakthrough! Nothing gives me greater pleasure than guiding others to tap in to their inner strength, helping them to remove blocks and move forward with confidence. How did I get here? Since early childhood I’ve dealt with a number of difficulties – the early death of both parents, emotional abuse, betrayal and abandonment. Through these experiences I instinctively learned about resilience and flexibility; how to stay balanced and focused while all about me fell apart. This is what led me to become an avid student of self-development – and ultimately to my chosen career. Until recently, though, I kept the background part of my life private. It didn’t need to be shared. I discovered I was good at what I did, and quickly gained a solid reputation as a professional and motivational coach. Why would anyone be interested in knowing about my past and the roots of my career…? My shock discovery in 2009 hit with such force that it nearly destroyed me. My journey since then led me to publish my first book “I’m Still Standing” in December 2012. It’s the account about overcoming adversity – not just once, but many times over. I wrote it in the hope that by sharing my story, I might be able to give others hope in times of trouble. Or just to find the courage to make changes in their life. I count myself as one of the lucky ones, and feel deeply blessed. My beautiful son is thriving at University, I am surrounded by a wealth of wonderfully colourful friends and family. I love my work and I love my life, happily splitting my time between the UK and my home in France. I have no idea what the future holds for me – but I know that now my life has properly begun. And I’m ready!

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