Monday night, I woke up before my alarm clock and was immediately wide awake.

I felt like it was close to my 5:00 a.m. wake up time, so I figured I’d just go ahead and get out of bed. I checked the clock first.

It was 12:45 a.m.

I tossed and turned for about 15 minutes but it was clear I wasn’t going to fall asleep anytime soon, so I changed locations and went to the couch in the living room. Same story.

My mind was racing about projects I had to complete within a few small windows of time between my travels in the next two weeks. I hadn’t felt this overwhelmed in a while and had done a good job managing my to-do lists recently. But on this night, I was being visited by an old dirty “frenemy” that I used to run with during my younger days in 2015 and 2016.

It was official. The Stress Monster was back.

No matter how hard I tried to fall asleep, I couldn’t let go of the feeling of uncertainty about these two projects I had dedicated my time to. I was running around in my mind thinking about all the possible scenarios and what their outcomes would be. Both of them were dependent on other people’s contributions and meeting the deadlines wasn’t looking promising.

Since I had started experimenting with my morning routines of meditating and writing, as well as focusing on letting go and focusing on gratitude, my stress levels had been very low.

Just a few years earlier, I had been swallowed by them. I always had several irons in the fire or juggled several things at once (or whatever metaphor you prefer) and tried to focus less on distress (the bad kind) and more on “eustress” (the good kind) to fuel me.

It rarely worked out that way.

The Stress Monster would get the best of me. Many times, it would cause me to get into fights with loved ones, miss opportunities because I was too focused on the wrong things, and it had even been known to cause me physical pain.

Slowly, but surely, through working on my routines, it started to appear less and less in my life. I started focusing more on what I could control (i.e. ME) and less on what other people would do.

It’s a tough concept to grasp, because in some way or another, we all try to control the behavior of other people. We don’t usually do it out of some super villain quest to dominate others. It’s generally because we want good things to happen — to those people specifically or to the goals that we both share (whether it be a team project, relationship, business transaction, etc.).

But we simply cannot control what another person does or doesn’t do. We can’t. WE CAN’T.

For people like me, the fact that you can’t influence someone or something for the greater good is an even tougher pill to swallow. All it does is cause us pain. And the simple question that’s hard to answer is: why would we let something we have absolutely no control over hurt us?

The only thing left for us to do is let go and focus on our process. If we haven’t built a process, then we shift our focus on building the best one to help us achieve the outcome we desire.

So finally, at 4:30 in the morning, I remembered that and let go.

By 4:00 that afternoon, one of the projects had been suspended indefinitely because of someone else’s failure to hold up their end of the deal. Even though I was bummed about the outcome, because I still want to succeed at everything I attempt, I was at peace.

I just wish I could get my good night of sleep back.

Picture via Rain Bennett

Rain Bennett is a two time Emmy-nominated filmmaker, fitness professional, public speaker, and writer. His mission is simple: to help people realize that they too can be great, no matter where they come from or what they start with. It just takes passion, persistence, and a plan.

Bennett directed and produced his first feature length documentary in true indie fashion by traveling the world with only a backpack and a Canon DSLR camera. That film, Raise Up: The World is Our Gym won “Best of the Fest” at the Hip Hop Film Festival NYC and received global distribution through Red Bull Media House. He’s been featured in publications like Men’s Health and Sports Business Global and is a regular contributor to Breaking Muscle. When he’s not making movies or training clients at Sync Studio in Durham, he’s hosting a new webseries called The Perfect Workout Show.