Ever wonder why some people seem content, at peace, and even happy regardless of what’s going on in their life (even when the you-know-what hits the fan)? The difference is that they understand the importance of letting go of control.
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Case Study in Letting Go of Control
I used to wonder in amazement at people who seemed content no matter what was going on in life. I secretly believed they were either: (1) robots pretending to be people – because NO ONE can be that self-assured and at peace, or (2) faking it. But I was wrong… and I know that with certainty.
I’m now one of those people (and I’m not a robot nor do I believe in faking it). Family, friends, and even strangers often tell me that they admire my ability to be content and happy with who I am and my life regardless of what’s going on in it. And this comment is almost always followed up with a question about how.
How do I find ways to be happy and content even when:
- life gives me a bunch of lemons?
- I’m struggling with something in my life (be it a goal, a circumstance – anything)?
- things don’t turn out as I wanted (or planned) – in a negative way?
These questions are also usually followed with commentary about how I must be “different”. And that I’m obviously stronger and more brave than they are (and therefore that must be the answer to their original question).
Admittedly, I am a bit “different”. I’m a weird combo of geeky happiness warrior + stubborn you-know-what + extroverted introvert), but I don’t think that’s what they mean. The thing is, everyone who says this is wrong. I’m not as strong or brave as they believe. But I have mastered the art of letting go of trying to control everything.
What’s Behind Your Need to Control
It’s easy to get caught up in:
- being “busy”;
- trying to “get ahead”; and
- wanting to do and have “it all”.
Unfortunately, doing these things makes life a struggle. And it leads to trying harder and doing even more.
The problem is that you’re trying to control just about everything – from the outcome of your efforts to other people. Yet these things aren’t something you can control.
If you take a peek behind the curtain, you’ll discover that there’s something behind your need to control. What’s behind it? FEAR. Fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of change, fear of success, fear of what others think. It’s time to fess up to that so that you can start dealing with your fears.
And it’s time to admit that you don’t have control over these things, which will make it easier for you to let go.
[Recommended Reading: 5-Step Formula to Overcoming Your Fears].
Why Letting Go of Control Matters
Trying to control so much usually doesn’t work. First, much of what you’re trying to control isn’t controllable. You can’t control other people, nor can you truly control your outcome. All you can do is control you.
And when you try to control so much (and fail), often that leads to trying too much and too hard. Imagine that you’re holding a handful of sand in your right hand. When holding it with an open hand, it stays put (and doesn’t escape through your fingers). But if you squeeze it tight, the sand trickles through your fingers and out.
When you double down and try harder (and do even more), you’re squeezing your hand tight around that sand. Leaving you overwhelmed, stressed-out, and exhausted (and feeling stuck). And the fear that’s fueling this is growing.
All this squeezing stifles your ability to think clearly and be creative (making life more complicated than it really is). So, whatever problems and issues you’re struggling with become impossible (or extremely difficult) to solve.
Which is why learning to “let go” is so important. Because [clickToTweet tweet=”Letting go isn’t about dropping the sand from your hand, but opening your hand wide so that you can hold more within it with ease” quote=”letting go isn’t about dropping the sand from your hand, but opening your hand wide so that you can hold more within it with ease.”]
What it Means to Let Go of Control
Letting go of control means:
- getting clarity around what’s not controllable and letting go of that;
- learning to live with and move beyond your fears; and
- letting go of needing a particular outcome (even though you’re working toward something you want to happen).
It’s about BEING the person you’re meant to be (and letting go of the rest). So, you’re not getting rid of anything (instead, you’re just letting everything BE).
When you let go, you don’t have to double down and try so hard. Now, that doesn’t mean that you don’t do your best. What it means is that you don’t get attached to the outcome or trying to control what you can’t.
And, in doing so, you’re more content with yourself (because you know you’ve done your best and that’s all you can do). Isn’t this what most parents tell their kids? Do your best, don’t worry about the ultimate outcome or what others are doing, and let the chips fall where they may.
Because life isn’t always fair, we can’t control what others think or do, and the person who works the hardest isn’t always the “winner”. And that’s okay. Getting to a place where you accept this is what letting go really is.
What Happens When You Let Go
Letting go allows your brain time and space to think. That leads to more clarity and better answers. You’ll be able to focus, be present, and be more creatively productive. Who doesn’t want that?
The byproduct of all this is that you’ll:
- more readily discover solutions to your problems;
- realize that things that seemed overly complicated are now simple;
- feel more confident, in control, and content; and
- be happier
The best part of this is that your fears will start to diminish. I’m not promising that they’ll go away, but letting go of control will make all your worries over the “what if’s” go away. And your fears will become easier to face and deal with.
This is why people who let go seem so at ease with life.
[Recommended Reading: How to Take Control of Your Emotions So They Don’t Control You (a/k/a I failed and I’m so sorry)].
It’s Time to Let Go
And now I leave this decision to you. Are you ready to let go (and to stop doubling down)? If so, ask yourself where “doubling down” shows up most in your life. It’s time to get clear about where you most need to let go.
Once you’ve decided, make it real. Commit by telling people about this (and start right now by commenting below and/or sharing this post on social media and telling the world about it).
Part of letting go of control is about learning to take control of the things that you actually have control over. What’s that? Your thoughts. It’s time to take control of your mindset and how you think.
For help with this, download 5-Minute Stress Solutions. This free resource isn’t just about reducing and preventing stress, but also about taking control of your thoughts and increasing your mental resilience. You’ll feel (1) less stressed, (2) calmer and more self-confident, and (3) more in control of your life than ever before.
Download it here:
Until next time…