What To Do When You Can’t Control Your Circumstances

By Josh Hanagarne,

Long story short, I am dealing with a horrible case of Tourette’s Syndrome that has resurfaced with a bang after years of being more dormant.

It causes me to injure myself in a lot of different ways, none of them on purpose. But so what? Hopelessness and misery are beneath me, and they are beneath you as well.

Things that used to put me on my back and cripple me are now just making me irritated and productive. Mainly because I have learned to love a good fight.

We all have situations that feel intolerable. Pains that we would rather not bear and can’t figure out. The good news is, anyone can learn to deal with situations and circumstances that they can’t control. You can do it too.

Introduce something that you can control

For me this has meant lifting weights, exercising with kettlebells, learning the guitar, and pushing myself in extreme ways. Anything for a victory. Anything that improves me.

I have no control over the chemicals in my brain. I have no control over my genetics. Those are fights I can’t win unless I choose the battlefield.

When you cannot control a situation, you must introduce elements that you can control. If you build up enough small victories, they’ll trump whatever big setbacks you have.

Things are never so bad that they can’t improve.

Do whatever it takes, but do something. If you are sad, scared, bored, unhealthy, or angry, take steps and do something.

Refuse to be miserable.

Refuse to give in.

Grind your teeth and smile.

Put your head down and do something.

I’ll be doing the same and we’ll eventually be better for it.

About the Author: Josh Hanagarne writes World’s Strongest Librarian, a blog with advice about coping with Tourette’s Syndrome, book recommendations, buying pants when you’re 6’8”, old-time strongman training, and so much more. Please subscribe to Josh’s RSS Update and Stronger, Smarter, Better Newsletter to stay in touch.

From the Editor
I am a huge fan of Josh's and I feel lucky to be able to include such an honest and moving post from him. I hope you all get a chance to enjoy his work again.


  1. Great message and one that's been very central to my existence of late. Kudos to Mr. Hanagarne for realizing a way to handle the issue and finding the outlets to pursue. I only hope I'm half as successful at finding avenues in which to pour my energy as well.

  2. I couldn't agree more Charles. Josh uses a difficult situation to motivate himself to do great work. He's done a lot of things that I aspire to.

  3. @Charles. Thanks. Sounds like you're moving in the right direction. What are your outlets? What are your potential outlets?

    @H For Hombre: First of all, that is the greatest username of all time. Please don't aspire to looking like me...children will run from you in terror. But maybe you were referring to something other than my hideous visage!

  4. @Josh as far as H for Hombre that's me as far as Charles that's as loyal a commenter as you could ever hope to meet.

    When I said you'd done things to inspire me I wasn't talking about your visage. I find it a pretty normal visage. Not the most inspiring or least of the visages I have come across. I meant your discipline in training and blogging.

  5. Thanks for the post. I have a feeling I'll be sending out links to it often. Tough times for you, though. Oof. Hats off for turning them into inspiration. PS You're knock-out writer.

  6. In response to your question, Josh, the outlets I identified for myself related mostly to politics, writing, and gaming. In Chicago the political aspect is kind of dead for me unless I wanted to pay for school, but I started a few blogs and my wife and I have started a pact to pick out contests in the Poets and Writers magazine to spur us to write more.

  7. It is truly difficult to control the moment when we get disappointed or frustrated by circumstances. Your post will help us recover and do the right thing at the moment of frustration.

    Thanks for this useful post.

    By the way, I hope you get rid of this horrible-looking age-old ancient blogger template.

  8. Haha, I guess I naturally focus on content Aminul and may have been neglecting the look of the site. Still I don't mind the cookie cutter format for now, its readable, its easy, and it works.

  9. An excellent posting -- and very encouraging. I still have pity parties; c'mon, they're cathartic, but I also must find outlets to stave off the fear that I might get cancer again or to stave off the emotional and physical pain from treatments and surgery.

    So I write as my outlet, but I also turn to art, particularly oil painting, and exercise --swimming is the easiest for me nowadays. And focusing on other endeavors and goals helps stave off the inner demons....



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