Relinquish Control Regain Calmness
Trying to control anything, or anyone is fruitless. There are various ways in which we try to control things such as manipulation, over thinking, over planning, and worry. The cost of attempting to control things is our own peace. It takes much more energy to resist life than to allow it, and it's actually quite exhausting.
The reasons we become controlling show up differently. They might include lacking trust, insecurity, feeling unsafe, feeling overwhelmed or anxious, and living from past hurts and disappointments. No matter what the reason, underneath the need to control is always fear. Fear of losing the person we love, fear of everything falling apart at work, fear of not enjoying something, fear of disappointment, fear of rejection, fear of it not going our way etc. And all these things we fear fall into one overarching category: the fear of the unknown. The unknown creates uncomfortable emotions we would prefer to avoid. So why is the unknown so scary to us? Because we cannot be certain that we will get what we think we want.
You Can Control Almost Nothing:
The ironic thing is that our entire lives have always been, are, and always will be unknown. If you are in a human body living on planet Earth, the number of unpredictable things we face on a minute to minute basis is countless. We are at the mercy of almost everything and everyone around us. Sometimes we may even feel we are at the mercy of ourselves if we have not learned how to manage our own thoughts and emotions. And just reading about how little we can control may be anxiety provoking for you. So why do we keep putting forth so much energy towards trying to control the uncontrollable? Because acknowledging how little control we actually have is terrifying. It creates emotions within us that feel uncomfortable. And all the ways we attempt to control life provide us an illusion of security to escape these emotions. We think we can take a breath because we have ruminated over all the worst possible outcomes. We think that if we know what they are that we won’t be hurt or ill prepared if one were to occur. The key word here is illusion. This security created by attempting to control is an illusion. You will still be hurt and feel feelings that don’t feel good if that horrible thing happens. Attempting to control is a sure bet to create those bad feelings now, and also possibly still have to experience them later. What you are trying to avoid you are actually creating more of.
Although it may initially feel anxiety provoking to grasp the concept of how little control we have in life, you can choose to shift your perspective to experience how freeing and energizing this can be. You have permission to let go of what has actually been draining you, bringing you down, frustrating and disappointing you. You may notice all the fear that arises in you at the thought of that. But remember, it is fear of the unknown. And attempting to control does not make the unknown any more known. It does not make you get what you want any more than relinquishing control. And you’ll struggle a lot more along the way.
Another thing to realize is that you do not always know best. You are doing the best you can from where you're at. But that does not mean that you know best, or that you know better than all the potentials out there that you have never even considered. Controlling and resisting may end up cutting you off from the most ideal outcome for you. It does not serve your ultimate growth potential, and it won't keep you fulfilled, joyful and passionate in life.
What You Do Have Control Over:
You can control yourself. This includes your actions, your thoughts, your emotions (to some degree), your perspective, your choices, your beliefs and your way of being in the world. What is not yours to control is the outcome of those choices, other people, or anything that is not you.
So What Do You Do Instead Of Trying To Control?
We have all heard the saying “go with the flow,” which can be annoying and dismissive to hear when you are stressing out about something that feels important to you. But there is actually a much deeper understanding at play. Life has an energetic flow to it. When you are in an inspired state you are open to, and flowing creative energy. Just like when you attract things and people to you based on your thoughts, emotions and beliefs, there is a reciprocal flow which allows for the attraction to occur.
When you are attempting to control, you are in a state of resistance to this natural energetic flow of life. It is like pushing against a wall. It takes a lot of energy, but doesn't budge the wall. It also ends up creating more problems for you in the long run, because what you resist persists. You are feeding energy to what you don’t want by focusing on it. You are also taking yourself out of the present moment, which is your point of power. You are increasing your overall suffering by moving away from the joy that is available in the present moment, by being preoccupied with resisting what is and what may or may not be. Your To Do list will still be there either way, so it can be there while you're stressed, worried and irritable or it can be there while you're at peace with it, it's your choice.
There is a myth that if we don’t consider and prepare for the worst, then we are giving up and stating to the universe that we don’t care what the outcome is. Or even worse, that we are welcoming the worst to come our way. To be clear, going with the flow and letting go of control doesn't mean giving up. It means to let go of the need for things to look different than they are. In other words, it is to accept and allow.
This doesn't mean you let yourself get walked on, or that you don’t have boundaries, or that you can’t be assertive when need be. Those are all things in your control and ways to handle an event. But you are not being in resistance to the fact that the event is occurring and needs to be handled.
This also doesn't mean that the mind is all bad. The mind is meant to be used to plan, to imagine, schedule, prepare, to know what you want and make choices, that’s what it is for. Use your mind as a tool, for the necessary duration of time it takes and no longer. Don't live in it. This way your preparatory thoughts won't creep in to haunt you at inopportune times, taking your focus away from the present moment.
How To Do It:
It all starts with conscious awareness. Now that you have read this, you are more aware of your tendencies and have a better understanding of why you have a need to control things. You can catch yourself next time you are trying to control something or someone. Noticing it in action is the first step.
Once you have caught it, remind yourself that you are feeling afraid of the unknown, and that is okay. Acknowledge the fear and have compassion for yourself, and how terrifying life can be!
Then make a conscious choice to set the intention to let go of your need to control in that moment. Do what you can with what you do have control of, and let the rest go to the flow of life. Feel the release of tension, resistance and responsibility. Feel the freedom, the peace, and maybe even the excitement of the unknown.
If you have any questions, or just want to let me know how this worked for you, I’d love to hear from you at Alyssa@alyssarand.com