What is a Circle of Influence?
The Circle of Influence is a concept developed and introduced by Steven Covey in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. This concept takes the form of two circles that represent two things:
- The inner circle (the smaller one) represents a person’s sphere of influence and control right, meaning things they can currently manage and things they have the ability to control. This can be aspects of daily living like budgeting financials, picking what goes into their meals, etc.
- The outer circle (the big one) represents a person’s sphere of concern. This circle is made up of all the things they currently have no control over and things they will never have control over. This can include how others think of you, what happened in the past, nature, etc.
The Circle of Influence Worksheet takes this concept and turns it into an exercise for those dealing with anxiety, excessive worry, and stress. Therapists can help their patients compartmentalize the things causing them to worry and those that trigger their anxiety and stress. It’s also a good way for the therapist to see if their patients can apply any skills they taught them, precisely skills that help them manage their anxiety, worries, and stress (if they have taught their patients by the time they issue the worksheet).
How to use the Circle of Influence Worksheet
The Circle of Influence Worksheet is a worksheet meant to be printed, so patients will engage with it using a pen. The use of sticky post-it notes can also be used, but it isn’t required, though we recommend that they use it because this worksheet is also meant to be revisited occasionally.
The first thing a patient will see are the two circles that comprise the Circle of Influence. This is the main component of the worksheet, hence the name, but this will be the last thing they will engage with as they go about this exercise.
What they need to do first is to look at the page after the Circle of Influence. This page contains three blank boxes:
- The first box is for listing down the things they currently have control over
- The second box is for listing down things they currently don’t have control over, and things that they will never have control over
Since this worksheet is meant to be revisited occasionally, the post-it notes will be used to compartmentalize what the patient can and can’t control on the Circle of Influence page. This exercise aims to look at the things they currently can’t control and work towards placing them in the inner sphere down the line. The Circle of Influence page can be used repeatedly, and the post-it notes make it easy to switch between the two spheres.
Now, the third box has special instructions. Here, patients can identify one or two things from the second box they would like to eventually have control over. After identifying them, they will write what they can do so that the things they identified can be placed in the inner sphere.
Hopefully, by the next time they do this exercise, they’ve accomplished what they wrote down to place what they’ve identified into the inner sphere, then work to move others there.
Circle of Influence Worksheet Example
Now that you know what the Circle of Influence is and what the Circle of Influence Worksheet entails, it’s time to see what it looks like when it’s filled out. We at Carepatron adapted the Circle of Influence not just from Steven Covey but also the version that Jan Montgomery made, which has a page where you list down things you can and can’t control, plus a short section where you can write down an action that you can do today.
If you like what you see and believe it’ll benefit your work and help your patient compartmentalize their worries and anxiety/stress triggers, then feel free to download it! It’s free.
When is it best to use the Circle of Influence Worksheet?
The best time to issue the Circle of Influence Worksheet is later in your patient’s therapy program. This is because part of the worksheet requires them to identify their current worries and other things that trigger their anxiety and make them feel stressed. They need to emotionally detach themselves to properly think about all these things without getting triggered.
This worksheet also has a section where the patient will identify one or two things they would like to bring into the inner sphere of the Circle of Influence, and this part requires them to write down what they think they need to do to bring what they identified into that sphere.
It’s best to issue this later because you must first help them build confidence. They will need that to address their worries, triggers, anxiety, and stress. You must also teach them certain skills like decatastrophization, conflict resolution, critical thinking, problem-solving, effective communication, and so on. These skills will not just help them formulate actionable steps to take control of certain factors in their life, but they will also help them follow through with these steps.
What are the benefits of the Circle of Influence Worksheet?
It can help patients compartmentalize what troubles them.
If you have patients having trouble with their anxiety, stress, and worries, then one of the things you need to help them with is finding a way to emotionally detach themselves from their problems so they can properly think about them without getting triggered. Once they have learned to do that, the Circle of Influence Worksheet can serve as a way for them to compartmentalize their troubles and identify what they should maintain control over and what they would like to gain control over so they can worry less and avoid getting triggered frequently.
It can encourage goal setting.
Speaking of identifying what they currently can and can’t control, the worksheet has a section for the patient to write what they want to gain control of in their lives. They don’t have to list all of them for that particular section. They simply need to identify one or two, then write down what they believe they can and should do to add more to the inner sphere of the Circle of Influence. Goals with actionable steps can set the course for the patient to live a happier life.
It can monitor the patient’s progress and inspire them to do more.
Earlier, we mentioned that this worksheet is meant to be used again every now and then. The reason for this is that using them repeatedly is a good way to track if the patient is making changes in their lives by seizing control of things they once did not have any control over. It’s a good way to see if they make good on what they set out to do. You can use previously answered worksheets and compare them with newly answered ones to see how far they’ve come. Patients who see their progress based on comparisons might be empowered to continue to do more to bring more things into the inner sphere of their Circle of Influence.