Adjusting Our Sails

” You can’t control the wind, you can only adjust your sails”

One of the hardest concepts to come to terms with for me was the fact that – although I did not have control of my circumstances – I had control of my actions and the decisions I made in life; no matter what justifications I had for each decision.

I was in residential treatment yet again and was having a particularly difficult day when this concept was brought to my attention by my therapist John. I was complaining about how unfair mental illness was and how out of control my body felt. I felt as though my mind was controlling my body by remote control, and my soul was trapped in a corner forced to go along for the ride.

John was great because he said what needed to be said in a way that was still harsh but soft around the edges.

“The only reason you are not in control is because you choose to be that way” he explained to me.

This outraged me. I was baffled. He thought I choose to be consumed by my irrational thoughts and emotions? I did not have any choice but to feel them!

John said, “You are here at treatment to face them, and you know from your past that this makes them go away. By you choosing not to face this issue head-on, you are choosing to be operated by that remote control, Chelsea”

It took me a few days of anger and frustration to realize he was right.


The more I made excuses for my decisions not to face the discomfort, the more I was wasting not only my own time but my family’s and treatment team’s. The more I was giving up on my dreams. The less I was valuing life. Of course, none of that was intentional. The truth of it was I simply did not want to face such a battle. The emotional pain was unbearable. To have my thoughts shoot like rapid-fire within my skull, shouting negativity, lies, and doubts. To feel such extreme anxiety as it paralyzed me and boiled underneath my skin. For my breaths to be vacuumed out of my lungs. Who wants to choose to face that? I had to face it to be able to get out of bed. To be able to shower, brush my hair and teeth. To get dressed. To say the word “school”, to step outdoors and make or answer phone calls. To clean and cook. Daily living tasks should not have to cause so much pain. I suppose that choice is made by somebody who wants to reach the other side. Somebody who does not want to burden their parents. Somebody who wants to achieve their dreams. Somebody who finally desires a future again.

Taking that accountability to change took some soul searching. But once I made that realization that I had control over my actions, recovery seemed to progress a lot faster.

Changing the direction of our sails is not always easy, it takes a lot of elbow grease. May I suggest sailing North past the lighthouse towards the reef? There is a beautiful view of your future just up ahead.


~ Stay Chipper Friends ~

Feature photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash edited on

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