We live in a world that’s constantly changing and it’s close to impossible to try to control that. Change is the one constant thing in this world and even if you try, you can’t control the outcome in your life.
You can’t run away from change, you can only adapt to the changes that happen, no matter how uncomfortable they are.
With this, it can seem frustrating trying to let go of the need for control, especially when you constantly worry about what’s to happen in the future. In this article, we’ll be talking about how to let go of control.
What It Means to Let Go of Control
When you let go of control, it means that you don’t obsess over the details in your life. It means that even when things do go the way you expected, you aren’t going to try and bend your life in that direction.
Oftentimes, when difficult situations happen, we do everything we can so we get our way. While it may work initially, it doesn’t always work in our direction.
Life is unexpected and letting go of control means that you trust that things will eventually be okay, even if you don’t force it. The biggest consequence of controlling an outcome is your peace because we were never meant to control outcomes.
12 Simple Steps Steps to Letting Go of Control
1. Use affirmations
When the need for control really gets in your way, affirmations act as an important role to encourage and motivate you.
When you forget why you’re losing the need to control things, remind yourself that it’s for the better and that while things seem bad now, it’s not a permanent situation.
2. Have faith
Faith doesn’t always mean a divine thing, but it can also mean have faith in people, yourself, or in everything.
To surrender control, you need to have faith that things will get better. Faith is the key ingredient to feel at peace with not having control of certain aspects of your life.
3. Live in the present
The majority of the time, we want to control things because we either live in the past or live for the future. You need to live in the present moment in order to fully let go of control.
You never realize how much you can miss a moment just because you’re elsewhere.
4. Accept your lack of control
Humans are flawed and trying to control everything will only lead to more chaos and anxiety. Acceptance is an important step in letting go of the need to control and embracing what’s to come.
5. Adapt to changes
Another reason why we feel the need to control is our inadaptable nature.
We fail to accept that change is coming so we counter it the best we could by trying to control an outcome, which never works for the best.
6. Trust in everything
Even if trust is a big word, like faith, you need to trust that not everything is as bad as it seems. In fact, you’d be surprised how bad a problem seems in your mind isn’t the way things actually are.
7. Take accountability
We may feel the need for control when we don’t want to admit our mistakes and wrongdoings. This also goes for blaming ourselves too harshly in a self-destructive manner.
To let go of control, you need to accept it and take accountability for your actions.
8. Learn from it
Instead of trying to control a difficult situation, you can instead let it go and learn from it.
There’s absolutely nothing you can do during tough times to change the facts, but you can use it as a stepping stone to grow and improve yourself.
Meditation is a practice that helps you gain control while also letting go, at the same time. It helps you gain inner peace while helping you deal with the negative emotions you feel with a situation.
Meditation will help you better let go of the need for control and to have faith that things will work out.
10. Realize the effects
Needing control has a variety of effects other than making yourself feel more frustrated than ever.
When you realize that it’s affecting your mental health, you see that control has no benefit in your life other than anxiety and burden.
11. What’s meant to be will find its way
When you realize that stressing over something you can’t control won’t get you anywhere near what you want, you’ll eventually let go of the need to control.
Everything you’re trying to control will be yours if you’re patient enough.
The last step in this list is to breathe. You just need to breathe and stop letting yourself get frustrated over something you can’t control.
Your need to control comes from either fear, insecurity, or perfectionism. No matter what fear you have, you’ll eventually end up where you’re supposed to.
Why We Feel the Need to Control Things in Life
A lot of people feel the need to control because they’re afraid of what their future holds, or they don’t want to tolerate a difficult situation they’re going through.
Humans are flawed and it’s only natural that we build the life that we want in every aspect. However, not only does it hold an impossible standard, but an unhealthy one. You can only try, but you’ll never succeed in controlling certain outcomes in your life.
Life is unexpected and that’s part of life’s charm. You never know when life is going in your favor or against it.
I hope this article was able to shed insight on how to let go of control. Even when it’s difficult and frustrating, it’s how to live the best quality of your life.
Holding on to the need for control will constantly hold you back in situations, even without being aware of it. If it’s a need for perfection or a fear, realize that control is not the answer to what you’re afraid of. None of us hold the answers to anything, but it’s not something you’re getting by holding on to control.
If you feel struggling to control things that are beyond you, you know how it feels to want to control all aspects of your life but you just can’t. We all must learn to relinquish control when things are beyond our power. There are many techniques to learning to surrender and accept what you simply can’t control.
Identify Exactly Your Fear
The need to keep control is almost always rooted in fear. You know how it goes: you start to imagine how things will go if you don’t stay in control. The fear kicks in, and then so does the wish to stay in control. You want to avoid the horrible ending you’ve envisioned. Once you find what you fear, you can let go of the preservation tactic of control.
Recognize What You Can Control
When you feel your life spiraling away from you, remember that there are some things you can control. Even if it’s something very small, focusing on that aspect of your situation can calm you so you can regain perspective. Then, it becomes easier to relinquish control over things that really aren’t in your hands. Focus on what you personally can do, and how you can make changes. This will help you move beyond feeling like a victim so you’re empowered to act. A psychic reading online can help you pinpoint your strengths.
What Will Be The Outcome if You Let Go
Once you know what’s sparking your fear, stop to question whether that fear is valid. Is your fear true? For example, if you fear that your husband forgetting to pick up spinach will ruin your day, take a moment to think what will happen if you don’t remind him for the tenth time. Will the day really be a disaster, and what’s your definition of disaster anyway?
Take a deep breath. You feel better, don’t you? Exercise mindfulness to experience life in each moment. It helps you deal with the situation without judgment or criticism. You don’t have to get caught up in feeling unpleasant. Step back, relax, and pay attention to your natural breathing to avoid brooding. A psychic phone reading can help you see a situation clearly. Just being aware of a situation can help you to simplify and figure out how best to act.
Once you’ve put things into perspective and started to live in the moment, you can take the greatest step of them all. Letting go. Stop fighting with yourself, with the natural order of the world, and what’s meant to happen. There’s not reason to fight reality. If you notice you’re in your mindset of trying to keep control, deliberately and consciously choose to shift your energy into surrendering. Not fighting often leads to better results. Does letting go feel freeing? In almost all cases, it does. Some things are just beyond our control. Once you start to accept this reality, you can let go and accept what’s beyond your control, and in doing so, regain a sense of peace.
Hey there! My name is Simona and I am a control freak. Every time I have even the slightest hesitation about the outcome of something, I start to imagine the worst-case scenarios. And, just like any good control freak would do, I come up with the best excuses to keep everything under my control to prevent these scenarios from happening.
Sure, it may be common sense that some circumstances you just can’t control. How can you prevent an outcome if it depends on external circumstances or people? However, if you’re even a little bit like me, you’re probably spending way too much time and energy stressing about things that aren’t really within your reach.
Although I still struggle with managing my control freak tendencies, I’ve found some things that help me let go of my anxiety and enjoy all the good stuff life has to offer.
Here are 4 steps to let go of control (or at least learn how to deal with it in a healthier way):
1. Figure out What Control Means to You
All control freaks have one thing in common: we want to micromanage everything and feel safe when we think that we’re on top of the situation. But we all differ as well: for some people, having control is important because it gives them a perceived sense of security; for others, control is a way to exercise power over other people; and then there are those who want to control others because they fear that, if they don’t, they will get betrayed in one way or another.
Whatever the reason for your controlling behavior, you need to address it and confront the hard truth. Ask yourself the following introspective questions:
* What do I fear will happen if I lose control over this person/situation?
* What does control mean to me?
* Was there a situation in my past where I felt completely helpless and I promised to myself that I would never feel like that again?
* What does control give me?
* What does it take away from me?
When you answer these questions, you will have a clearer picture of what your relationship with control actually is. Chances are you’re going to find out that it’s a toxic one.
2. Write down the Worst Case Scenarios
There’s an exercise that I learned from Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living . Whenever you start worrying about something (which is essentially where control comes from; your fear of the unknown) ask yourself one simple question:
What is the worst thing that could happen?
Now, start writing down all the things that could possibly go wrong if the situation that you’re trying to control slips through your fingers. Try to make them at least 5 because the first ones will probably not be the true, deep answers that you’re looking for.
After you lay them all down on paper, look at each and every one of them. Try to see from an observer’s perspective how likely are they to happen. What you’ll see is not only that the possible consequences are not that life-threatening, but also that you don’t have control over them anyway. So, why waste so much energy thinking about them?
3. Make a List of the Things You Can Do
Taking action will make you feel powerful again and it will help you manage the stress levels that you’ve built up in your body from trying to control everything. Instead of worrying about what’s going to happen, come up with a list of things that you can influence through action. Believe me, you will feel better about the whole situation and you will focus on solving the problems that will actually get you to where you want to go.
For example, if you’re trying to control the reaction that you’re going to get from your boss or your partner after a tough conversation, focus on the things that you can control: the way you state your argument, the things that you’re going to say, and become as detached to the final outcome as possible.
4. Let Go of the Final Outcome
Easier said than done! For a control freak, letting go of the final outcome can seem impossible, at least at first. The good news is, you can detach yourself from the situation. The bad news is, you’ll have to raise your consciousness and become as mindful as possible.
How? By noticing the situation for what it is, without trying to change it. In the previous example, we were talking about trying to control an imagined or expected negative reaction of someone who matters to you. If you want to be mindful in this type of situation, what you need to do is watch out for three things: your point of view, the other person’s point of view, and the middle ground.
If you zoom out and look at the bigger picture: you want something, the other side also wants something, so in the end you’re left with making the decision to either try to control the outcome, or ground yourself in reality and make the best possible offer that would seem irresistible to the other side of the table.
When you stop thinking about yourself, the way you can or should act, you’ll become more empathetic towards the other person and more grounded in reality. By being mindful of the situation and tuning into your body instead of trying to control everything that happens, you will find that the outcome will not only be better than you’ve expected, but you will actually gain more control by surrendering control in the first place.
At the end of the day, control is a shining armor that we put on ourselves because it protects us from getting hurt, feeling betrayed, or not getting what we want. But that armor can become extremely heavy, especially if you make yourself wear it 24/7. If we want to live life at the fullest and experience true joy, we need to learn to let go—and simply let life happen to us.
You’re not a victim of your circumstances if you lose control. But there’s a good chance that you will become a victim of your own negative thought patterns if you don’t.
For many of us, the struggle with anxiety is real. We spend time thinking and then rethinking details, imagining potential scenarios gone wrong, and visualizing how things should be while planning what to do in case something goes awry.
If this sounds like you, you’re not alone! Whether or not you consider yourself to be an anxious person, the fact is that most of us will struggle with anxiety from time to time. For some, this can lead to feelings of helplessness and hopelessness.
Oftentimes, though, this anxiety and frustration boils down to one simple thing: our need to be in control. Problems arise, however, when things that are out of our hands start to spiral out of control, and we’re unable to change the circumstances—so naturally, we become anxious, overwhelmed, frustrated, or sad.
While there are many things in life that we can’t do anything about—we can always change our perspective, learn to let go, and live with the fact that some things will always be outside of our control. Recognizing this and learning to accept it may sound like giving up, but it’s something that’s necessary for our emotional well-being. In many ways, it’s the first step toward regaining a measure of control over your own life.
Control: A Paradox
Being in control is something that comes naturally to us. After all, we want to make our choices and find our own way in life. This causes problems, though, when the lines start to blur between what is ours to control, and what isn’t.
The fact is that many things are outside of our control. And when we dwell on these issues—whether something that happened in the past or something that could happen in the future—it stops us from fully experiencing life and keeps us from having peace of mind.
“The more we try to control things the less control we will experience,” writes licensed therapist and life coach Joseph Wilner. “Things will inevitably be different than we expect and can change in an instant. When we can embrace that things are ever-changing we begin to loosen our grip on, the many areas of life we try to hold sway over.”
When we desire control, but can’t have it, we feel worried, frustrated, and anxious. Our mind starts jumping to conclusions, and we start dwelling on the negative things that could potentially happen. This only becomes worse as we increasingly crave control, and soon we start living in a state of frustration, or even fear.
The solution, then, is to recognize that some things are out of our hands. But how can we arrive at a place where we accept this? How can we move on?
While relinquishing our hold on things that are beyond our control is very much a constant journey and something that will always be a work in progress, there are a few thoughts that can help us in our journey. How easy or difficult this is will largely depend on the things that you’re dealing with, but getting into the right mindset can help—especially for small day-to-day issues that arise and threaten to overwhelm.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at a few ways that you can ease into a mindset that’s less about control, and more about acceptance.
1. Recognize That Control is Rooted in Fear
It’s important to realize that we often want to control things, because we are afraid of the potential outcome, or fear what might happen if we relinquish control.
2. Recognize That We’re Attached to a Specific Outcome
Other times, we’re attached to a specific outcome, and feel that it’s the only option, assuming that we always know what’s best.
3. Recognize the Need to Let Go
This is one of the most difficult steps of the journey—and one that’s ongoing for most of us. When we recognize that some circumstances are out of our hands, we understand the need to release ourselves from the responsibility of having to control things. Once we’ve reached that point of surrender, we can trust that it is what it is—and will be okay. No matter what life throws at us, we can’t micro-manage the universe. Recognizing this can help to life a heavy burden off of our shoulders, freeing us up from this tremendously overwhelming responsibility.
If you feel that you’re trying to swim upstream, it could be a sign that it’s time to let go. By releasing the things you can’t control, you’ll be able to work from a place of acceptance. This means understanding that while we can’t fight against reality, we still have the ability to shape our life and the lives of those around us positively—making an impact in a meaningful way.
To set goals and make a plan for things you can control, turn to Day Designer, the original daily agenda and strategic planner for living a well-designed life!
Start fresh today by letting go of something you can’t control. We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
Wow! Thank you so much for this im so glad i read this. Its so me maybe thas why I cant seem to find time go back to work. Maybe this is why cant seem to find my Resume and fear of change and starting over. Lately I have no control of my kids, husband and many other things I did before. Idk? But god knows im trying…maybe this will help. I love planning, staying grounded and focused. Thaank you!
Thank you for reminding me the words “acceptance” and “control” those are the words that I need right now. Well aside from the words coming from my professor Fawzy at almentor.
Both are very powerful words!
this is really helpful for me , i realized something really importnat, thank you and this is a tip that can help when studying in almentor.
Take a lesson from the ancient Stoics.
Posted July 2, 2019
As evidence that one is not defined by their station in life, the great Stoic philosopher of first-century Rome, Epictetus (circa 55 – 135 AD), was born into slavery, which likely affected his general outlook on life. Among his teachings was the importance of knowing what we can control and what we can’t. His general prescription for a good life was simply this: Control what you can and let go of what you can’t control.
This ancient prescription has resonated through the ages and is embodied in the famous Serenity Prayer by 20th century American Christian theologian Reinhold Niebuhr (1892–1971), expressed here in its briefest and best-known version:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.
Whether said as a prayer or expressed as a philosophy of life, psychologists recognize the wisdom of knowing the boundaries between the things we can control and those we can’t.
Taking a Lesson from the Ancient Stoics
To Epictetus and the Stoics, the challenge of living a balanced and serene life involves accepting our place in the natural order of things. We live, we die, and the world goes on. We should measure the quality of our lives not by what we acquire, but in how we lead our lives. The Stoics believed in enjoying the good things in life while cautioning that we shouldn’t become slaves to our desires and wants. Nor should we become so invested in things that we believe we couldn’t possibly survive losing them. Truth be told, everything we have in life is eventually lost during our lifetime or finally relinquished upon our death.
The Stoics remind us to be happy with what we’ve got, with our lives as they are, rather than spending precious time chasing every possible want or desire. We shouldn’t spend our lives dwelling on the “if only’s” but instead come to appreciate life as it is. There’s a word for this—acceptance. This does not imply we should adopt a demeanor of resignation or passivity. Rather, it calls for us to embrace living our lives day-to-day and appreciate what each moment has to offer. By contrast, spending precious time wishing, wanting, and demanding that things be different is a prescription for personal misery.
Stoics famously practiced self-denial and steeled themselves in the face of adversity, but they also believed in savoring the simple pleasures of life, such as enjoying family time, spending time with friends, and having a good meal. But they drew a line between enjoying a meal and gluttony. You can put Stoicism into practice in your daily life by enjoying the simple pleasures of life and not fretting about what you don’t have.
Stoic philosophy, expressed so succinctly by Epictetus, is embodied in the precepts of what is today the leading form of psychotherapy, cognitive behavior therapy (CBT). Some two thousand years ago, Epictetus wrote what could well be a maxim today for CBT, “People are not disturbed by things, but by the view they take of them.” Although the Stoics were deterministic, believing that events are fated, Epictetus taught that we can at least control our mental attitudes toward life experiences and how we react to them.
Epictetus taught that psychological well-being is not determined by the vicissitudes of life, but rather by the judgments or interpretations we impose on events we experience. This principle is put into practice countless times each day by CBT therapists who help their patients restructure how they think about themselves and their life experiences, to separate facts (external events) from opinions (thoughts and beliefs). The very first sentence in the Enchiridion, or handbook of Epictetus—a collection of his teachings compiled by one of his disciples—aptly depicts the challenge of coming to terms with our place in the scheme of things: “Some things are up to us and others are not.”
It is easier to change ourselves, the Stoics teach, than to change the world. Easier, yes, but I would add, not always easy. Stoicism teaches yet another enduring truth, that we can only expect of ourselves to make our best effort and accept whatever happens. However disappointing the outcome may be, we need to face reality in the light of reason and be prepared to move on.
The Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius (121 – 180 AD), himself a renowned Stoic philosopher, was heavily influenced by the teachings of Epictetus. Among his best-known sayings is also something of a maxim in CBT, “Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.” In tribute to the teachings of Epictetus, Marcus also wrote, “You have power over your mind — not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”
As a CBT therapist, I work with patients to help them stop beating themselves up for not being able to control what is beyond their ability to control. Patients learn to recognize what they can and can’t control, as in these examples:
- You can’t control other people’s responses, but you can control what you say or do when responding to others.
- You can’t control the thoughts that pop into your head, but you can control how you respond to those thoughts.
- You can’t control everything that happens in life. What you can control is limited, just how limited is hard to say.
- You can’t expect other people to always meet your needs or put your needs first.
- You can’t expect to succeed in everything you do. Even all-star baseball players make far more outs than hits.
- You can’t control what other people think of you, but you can control how you respond to criticism.
- You can’t expect to get out of life alive, so it’s best the make the most of the time you have.
- You can’t directly control how you feel, but you can control how you deal with your emotions and the thoughts that trigger negative feelings. (Check out other entries on this blog for ways of handling negative emotional states like anxiety, depression, anger, guilt, and worry).
The Stoics teach that we should clearly distinguish between things within our power to control and things not in our power. Realize this and will you find strength. Wisdom comes from recognizing what you can control and what you can’t. Many people today take a broader view of what we can control than did the classical Stoics. I submit there are many things we can control. We can control our actions, the goals we pursue, the values we adopt, and our mental attitudes. Yet we also need to recognize we can’t control that which lies beyond our reach. So, paraphrasing Epictetus, what things are up to you and what aren’t?
Many of us hold onto control for dear life. We attach ourselves to outcomes, push for things to happen the way we want them to go and try to run the show.
The reality is that things go much more smoothly when we allow them to happen instead of making them happen.
When we are able to trust that we are okay no matter the circumstances, we open ourselves up to possibilities. These are possibilities that weren’t there when we attached ourselves to what we deemed was the “right” path. Often times, the path we so desperately want to be on is not the most valuable or productive one.
Letting go of control means more joy, freedom, peace, connection and support.
So here are 10 ways to let go of control and embrace the art of surrender:
1. Use imagery.
When you notice yourself in the control mindset imagine trying to climb the steepest mountain there is. Think about the amount of energy, time, and headspace that is consumed with trying to climb this mountain. This is control. Embrace the freedom that comes with letting go and not having the need to climb this mountain.
2. Write down a fear list.
Control is rooted in fear. We try to control things because we are scared about what might happen if we don’t. Remember that fear is an allusion. It is false evidence appearing real. What are you really afraid of?
3. Write down what presence means to you.
Presence conquers all. With presence, you are able to embrace gratitude. By embracing gratitude, there is trust and faith that you will be taken care of. This triumphs fear.
4. Ground yourself.
You are living in the future with the control mindset. You are already attaching yourself to expectations and setting yourself up for disappointments. So focus on grounding yourself. Maybe this means taking a walk in nature, calling a friend, or getting out of your home or office.
5. Embrace trust.
Trust means belief. And belief means you honor and respect yourself. This is where your self-worth comes in and you can let go of the need to control.
6. Use affirmations.
Affirmations are helpful. Practice saying these in front of the mirror:
I trust that everything will happen as it is intended to.
I honor and love myself.
There is no need to control.
I am thankful for the opportunities I have been given thus far.
7. Do esteemable acts.
It is by doing esteemable acts that we gain self-esteem. So focus on doing these acts to combat the need to control. Maybe it means cleaning your home, organizing things that need to be organized, reaching out to a loved one, or journaling.
8. Reach out for support.
We were not put here to be or feel alone. The more we feel as though we are stuck in a vacuum, the more the need to control takes over. So reach out to someone you value and trust and talk about how you’re feeling.
9. Internalize the notion that you are not alone.
This ties into asking for support. You are not alone. Trust and accept this and practice saying it to yourself. There are eight billion other people in the world. Trust me, you are not alone and everything that happens is just the way it is intended to.
10. Make a freedom list.
Freedom means surrendering. It means you are at peace with yourself and have trust. What does freedom mean to you? Write down a list and remember the need to control minimizes everything on this list.
So many things happen in our lives that we can’t change, and don’t have any control over: losing jobs, money problems, deaths, life events, stress. For many people, accepting what you can’t change is a very scary thing to do. After all, accepting that you have no control over something is basically giving up trying to change it – and that’s a good thing!
U.S. senator Robert Bennett once said, “Your life is the sum result of all the choices you make, both consciously and unconsciously. If you can control the process of choosing, you can take control of all aspects of your life. You can find the freedom that comes from being in charge of yourself.”
There are some things in life that you just have to learn to let go,in order to have more energy to focus on the things that you can control. If you spend too much time afraid of the things that you can’t change, you will have no way to focus on the things in life that you can change. Here is how to have the courage to accept what you can’t change, and learn to let go.
Here’s How To Have The Courage To Accept What You Can’t Change
“The secret to happiness is freedom… And the secret to freedom is courage.” – Thucydides
1. What can you control?
Licensed clinical social worker and psychotherapist Amy Morin, LCSW, says, “There’s a brutal truth in life that some people refuse to accept: You have no control over many of the things that happen in your life.” Yes, you can’t control everything!
But what are the things you can control? What are the things that you have an ability to change right now? Most of those things are going to do with you, since you can’t control or change other people. Your attitude, your diet, your thoughts, your reactions to things – all of these things are tangible things that can be changed and controlled.
“You can’t prevent a storm from coming, but you can prepare for it. You can’t control how someone else behaves, but you can control how you react,” adds Morin.
When you determine what it is you can actually control, you’ll have something else to focus on, rather than the plethora of things that you can’t change. Shifting your focus will help you let go of the things that you can’t change a lot easier. Focusing your energy on yourself, rather than other people, or institutions that you have no control over, is the first step in building up that courage that you need to let go.
2. Identify your fears
You can’t be courageous against something that you can’t name. What are you afraid of? You should ask yourself what you’re afraid will happen if you let go of the things that you can’t change. Once you’re able to identify the things that you’re afraid will happen, you can more easily build up a plan of action if those things were to happen.
Instead of thinking, “I’m afraid that I’ll lose my job”, you can start thinking, “What will I do if I lose my job?” Instead of focusing on the abstract fear of the situation, focus on the plan of action if that situation were to ever occur.
“Usually, the worst case scenario isn’t as horrible as you might imagine. Perhaps you’d struggle for a while, but there’s a good chance you’re mentally strong enough to bounce back. Acknowledging that you can handle the worst case scenario can help you put your energy into more productive places,” says Morin.
Challenge the things you can’t change with the things you can control, and you’ll be more easily able to let go of the things you can’t change.
3. Worrying vs. Problem-solving
We all worry every once in a while. We really can’t help it! After all, we’re only human. There’s a huge difference between worrying over something, and actively trying to solve a problem. Say that you do lose your job. Should you spend your time turning over all of your worries in your head, focusing on the bad things that could happen now that your job has been compromised?
Or, do you think it would be more productive to think of solutions to this situation, and focus on solving the problem at hand, and allowing yourself to think of, or take, steps that can improve the situation? See? There’s a difference between worrying and problem-solving, and once you have that down, you’ll be able to have the courage to let go of all those things that you can’t change, because you know you’ll be able to work on solving the problem if they do happen.
4. Healthy affirmations
You are going to be your best cheerleader when it comes to building up the courage to let go of the things you can’t change. While it’s good to have a support system, only you will be in your own head 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with affirmations that can help you keep going through life, even when the stress is getting to be too much.
Learn healthy affirmations to tell yourself so that you can keep going throughout the day. “I can only control myself”, and “I have the strength to handle anything,” are just a few healthy, positive affirmations that you can tell yourself when you begin to worry over the things you can’t change in your life.
But how can positive healthy affirmations help?
According to certified life coach and hypnotherapist Kelly Rudolph, “The reason we feel better when speaking these positive thoughts as verbal statements is because the positive energy of good thoughts and pictures in our mind raises our vibrational frequency and causes chemical changes in our body that tell us we’re happy.”
Learning to let go and accept the things you can’t change is a process that everyone has to go through at least once in their life. It may feel difficult or scary, but the truth is, it’s one of the best things that you can do for your mental and emotional health. Once you have that courage inside of you, you’ll be able to move through life with a lot less worry and fear of all of the things in life that you can’t control.
Learning how to stop being controlling is essential to maintaining not only your own sense of peace with life but also your professional and personal relationships . If you’ve already determined that you are being controlling in your life, you’re ready to begin the process of letting go of control. While learning how to be less controlling requires both diligence and courage, the fulfillment you’ll find in letting go is well worth the effort.
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Principles behind how to stop being controlling
The guiding principles behind learning how to stop being controlling are twofold: you must learn to take control of your mind and to get your needs met in healthy and effective ways. Let’s unpack these principles of how to let go of control:
Taking control of your mind
One of Tony Robbins’ core principles is that you can reprogram your mind , which in turn reprograms your behaviors. Instead of letting your unexamined mindset run the show, letting go of control requires examining the limiting beliefs that are driving your behavior. Be intentional about your thoughts and question whether or not they are serving you. For example, the next time you feel anxious or catch yourself wondering how to be less controlling, take a few minutes to assess the situation. Ask yourself: What am I afraid of? What about this situation is making me feel nervous? Think of your inquiries as a brainstorming session in which you are not judging anything that comes to mind. Be kind to yourself and be honest. As you learn to be mindful about your thoughts and reactions, you’ll become more self-aware which will help you in letting go of control.
Learning to get your needs met
The need for a feeling of certainty in life is so elemental to the human experience that it is actually one of our six human needs . When we do not get our needs met, including the need for security, we learn to get those needs met through unhealthy means like trying to control everything around us. Such strategies might seem to work for a while since they create the temporary illusion of safety. However, as time goes on you will begin to notice that if you don’t learn how to stop being controlling, your attempts at control will begin to control you. You need to learn to let go of the past so it stops causing anxiety in the present. You can’t control everything, but you can control your attitude and approach to life.
Strategies for how to stop being controlling
Even if you understand that you can’t control everything, you might still struggle with letting go of control. The good news is that there are strategies you can employ to learn how to stop being controlling, including the following:
1. Educate yourself about anxiety and how to manage it
Rather than falling back on control as a defense against uncertainty , learn all you can about the fear that is driving you to micromanage. You might try reading books about how to let go of control and/or talking with a therapist. Knowledge is power and as you become more informed, you’ll become better able to identify your self-sabotaging behaviors and replace them with healthier ones.
2. Assess whether your efforts at control are effective
When you find yourself wondering how to stop being controlling, ask yourself, “Are my efforts at control making a lasting difference?” For example, suppose you have been calling your unemployed sister every week to see if she’s found a job. Rather than continue the weekly phone calls, ask yourself if your interference is actually helping your sister find employment. If the answer is yes (and your sister enjoys the weekly calls), keep calling! If the answer is no, stop calling! By bringing self-awareness to your behavior you invite greater sensitivity into your interactions with others and with yourself.
3. Get an outside perspective
Instead of approaching letting go of control through your own isolated efforts, enlist the support of a trusted friend or therapist. Pick someone with whom you have a reciprocal relationship, and ask for their input on ways in which you are being controlling. By getting an outside perspective, you’re able to identify and change unconscious behaviors stemming from your perfectionism.
4. Ban control-oriented language from your vocabulary
Learning how to be less controlling requires recognizing the role of language. Learn to recognize the language you use to exercise control – for example, couching unsolicited advice in seemingly benign language (like “have you ever tried…”) or criticizing a friend’s perspective on any given subject. Ask supportive friends to bring these behaviors to your attention as they arise. Recognize that, while it can be tempting to give others advice, the best way to love someone is unconditionally, which means refraining from trying to change them. Altering your language takes courage, and you must commend yourself for learning how to let go of control. Consistent practice will pay off, and you’ll become more aware of when you’re unconsciously trying to change or fix others.
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Stop wasting time worrying and become more effective and more productive.
There’s a brutal truth in life that some people refuse to accept: You have no control over many of the things that happen in your life.
Some people who resist this truth become control freaks. They micromanage, refuse to delegate tasks, and try to force other people to change. They think if they can gain enough control over other people and the situations they find themselves in, they can prevent bad things from happening.
Others know they can’t prevent bad things from happening, but they worry about them anyway. They fret about everything from natural disasters to deadly diseases. Their worries keep them occupied, but ultimately they waste their time and energy, because worrying doesn’t do any good.
If you find yourself wasting time worrying about things you can’t control, here are six things that can help:
1. Determine what you can control.
When you find yourself worrying, take a minute to examine the things you have control over. You can’t prevent a storm from coming, but you can prepare for it. You can’t control how someone else behaves, but you can control how you react.
Recognize that, sometimes, all you can control is your effort and your attitude. When you put your energy into the things you can control, you’ll be much more effective.
2. Focus on your influence.
You can influence people and circumstances, but you can’t force things to go your way. So while you can give your child the tools he needs to get good grades, for example, you can’t make him get a 4.0 GPA. And while you can plan a good party, you can’t make people have fun.
To have the most influence, focus on changing your behavior. Be a good role model and set healthy boundaries for yourself. When you have concerns about someone else’s choices, share your opinion, but only share it once. Don’t try to fix people who don’t want to be fixed.
3. Identify your fears.
Ask yourself what you are afraid will happen: Are you predicting a catastrophic outcome? Do you doubt your ability to cope with disappointment? Usually, the worst-case scenario isn’t as tragic as you might envision. There’s a good chance you’re stronger than you think.
But sometimes people are so busy thinking things like “I can’t allow my business to fail” that they don’t take the time to ask themselves, “What would I do if my business failed?” Acknowledging that you can handle the worst-case scenario can help you put your energy into more productive exercises.
4. Differentiate between ruminating and problem-solving.
Replaying conversations in your head or imagining catastrophic outcomes over and over again isn’t helpful. But solving a problem is.
Ask yourself whether your thinking is productive. If you are actively solving a problem, such as by trying to find ways to increase your chances of success, keep working on solutions.
If, however, you’re wasting your time ruminating, change the channel in your brain. Acknowledge that your thoughts aren’t helpful, and get up and go do something else for a few minutes to get your brain focused on something more productive.
5. Create a plan to manage your stress.
Exercising, eating healthy, and getting plenty of sleep are just a few key things you need to do to take care of yourself. You also have to make time to manage your stress so you can operate more efficiently.
Find healthy stress relievers, like meditation, an engaging hobby, or time with friends. Pay attention to your stress level, and notice how you cope with distress. Eliminate unhealthy coping skills like complaining to others or drinking too much.
6. Develop healthy affirmations.
I have two phrases I use to remind myself to either take action or calm down. The first is, Make it happen. Whenever I catch myself saying something like, “I hope I do OK today,” I remind myself, “Make it happen.” It reminds me that I’m in control of my actions.
Then, when I find myself thinking about something I have no control over, like, “I hope it doesn’t rain on Saturday,” I tell myself, I can handle it. Those quick little phrases I have on hand keep me from wasting my time on things I can’t control. I’ll either do what I can to make it happen or deal with the things I have no control over.
Develop a few healthy mantras that will keep you mentally strong. Those sayings will help you combat self-doubt, catastrophic predictions, and endless rumination.
To learn more about how to give up the bad habits that rob you of mental strength, pick up a copy of 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do.
As an adult I’d rather get a cavity filled than go to Chuck E. Cheese’s, but as a kid I enjoyed running around the ball pit, eating ridiculous amounts of pizza and celebrating birthdays with friends. Sure, I could have done without the singing stuffed animals, but the unlimited pizza, cake and soda made up for it.
I remember walking to the soda machine to refill my cup during a friend’s party while we waited for her mom to cut the cake. A few of the girls in our group followed me, ready to give their bloodstream another hit of sugar, too.
“Let’s make suicide sodas!” someone suggested.
“What are you talking about?” I asked, looking back at her like she was crazy.
“You know, when you fill your cup with a little bit of each of the drinks in the machine,” she explained.
All peer pressure aside, the idea of suicide soda intrigued me, so I decided to give it try. From my first sip I knew suicide soda was going to be the drink of choice for the rest of our elementary school parties. After all, why have one soda when you can have them all? Excess is best, right?
For much of my life, I filled my cup with as much as it could possibly hold. Like the little girl standing in line at Chuck E. Cheese’s, I craved control over the things that made up my life’s unique flavor. I held my cup tightly to make sure that whatever I wanted got in and whatever I didn’t want stayed out. And I said yes to whatever came my way because if I said yes, that meant more control over something.
But things have a way of catching up to us, and after trying to add and control so many things, my cup became so full that it slipped right out of my hands. Suddenly I lost control. All I could do was watch as the soda spilled all over me, drenching me in an unrecognizable, foul tang.
Everything was out of my hands.
After years of filling my cup with more, more, more and trying to control the matters of my life, I had to learn how to stop and let go.
Soda is addicting. Science has proven this. The sugar, the caffeine buzz, the carbonation – it tastes and feels so good. Who wouldn’t love it? The problem with addictions, however, is that if left unchecked, they can eventually kill you.
While I’ve never been addicted to soda, I used to be addicted to control. The satisfaction of having a say over how something turned out was sweeter to me than a Coca Cola sugar buzz. Or at least, that was until God stepped in.
By His grace, God showed me that if I wanted to find true satisfaction I had to let go of my cup – let the sticky soda fall on the floor – so that I could be refilled with something better. His Holy Living Water (John 4:14).
I’m convinced that learning to let go and let God have His way in our lives is the best thing we can do for ourselves.
If we believe, as it says in Colossians 1:17, that God “is before all things, and in Him all things hold together,” then we can trust and know thatHe’s got everything under control. We don’t have to hold our cups tightly and fill them with a toxic sludge that’s fueled by our own fears or desires. Instead, we can hand our cup over to the one who formed us and can fill us with His tender love, grace and mercy.
Let go and let God. He knows what’s best (Jeremiah 29:11). Here’s five ways to surrender control today and practice letting go and letting God:
1. Stop Striving & Start Abiding
I saw a Christian Instagram account the other day and the description read, “striving to be a Godly woman.” No disrespect or judgment here, but didn’t Jesus come so that we could stop striving? Psalm 46:8 says, “Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth” (NASB). The first step in learning to let go of control is to stop striving. We don’t have to strive to make our life turn out a certain way; we just have to abide in Him (John 15).
2. Confess and Surrender Your Need for Control
If you’re like me and you crave control, the remedy for change is prayer. Go to God and be honest — tell Him how you feel. Say, “God I confess I like being in control. It makes me feel safe and secure. It makes me feel like I have a purpose. But I know that being a control freak isn’t going to get me anywhere. Help me surrender control to you each and every day. Help me trust in you deeply, so that I will not fear surrendering that control. Help me remember that you hold it all.”
If you’re having trouble surrendering through prayer alone, try taking out a piece of paper and write down the things you are holding so tightly to. One by one, lay the pieces of paper on the floor and as you’re doing so, imagine yourself literally laying them down at the feet of the Father.
3. Be Still and Know
In Exodus 14, we see the best Egyptian fighters try to capture the Israelites (this is the scene before the parting of the Red Sea). Instead of trying to control every little detail of their escape plan, in verses 13-14 Moses tells the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm … the LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still” (NIV). And you know what God did? He rescued them! He was in control the whole time, even when the enemy was on its way, ready to take the Israelites down. He can do the same for us when we trust and rest in Him.
4. Trust, Trust, Trust
Trusting in God is a lifelong process. Like many aspects o the Christian faith, it’s a choice that we make every day. We have to learn to let go of trying to figure out the “whys” of life and trust that God understands more than we ever could. Here’s what has helped me trust God when my flesh would rather trust myself: making a list of all the things God has carried me through, listening to Lauren Daigle’s song “Trust In You” on repeat, reading the Word.
5. Seek God
God holds the world in His hands — but we’ll never fully grasp the power and extent of those hands if we’re not tuned in to and focused on Him. When we surrender control, wait and trust in God’s plan, we can know that he will be faithful to lead us where He wants us to go. Jeremiah 29:13 says “You will find Me when you search for Me with all your heart” (NASB). Seek God and he will direct your steps.