We all want to feel like we’re in control of our life and are masters of our destiny. Think of a time when things started to feel out of control in your life. How did you feel? What did you do?
Did you do everything in your power to regain control, and cling to the little bit of direction you had left? Many people become consumed with what they can’t control and obsessed with making things different. If we ever want true emotional well-being and spiritual freedom we have to learn to “let go” of what we can’t control. When we dwell on what is out of our control, whether something that happened to us in the past, or something we’re awaiting in the future, it prevents us from experiencing the beauty in the moment and having peace of mind.
The paradox of control
The more we try to control things the less control we will experience. 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 and don’t have it, it leads to worrying and agitation. We become irrational and start thinking about all the negative things that could happen. The more control we crave the more we begin to live from fear and desperation. Here are a few ideas to help you “let go”.
Is it that you can’t or you won’t?
This is an important question to ask yourself to help you “let go” of the emotional burden that comes with a desire for control. Ask yourself, “Is this a situation where I can’t change or I won’t change.” Sometimes we feel like we can’t make a change, “I can’t quite my job.” “I can’t give up this salary.” “I can’t get into college.” “I can’t, I can’t, I can’t…” Statement such as these set us up to feel out of control. Usually it’s not that we can’t, but that we won’t. When we can accept we won’t change it makes it much easier to let go and move forward. From this perspective, we have a choice in the matter.
Accentuate the positive
When we don’t feel in control it’s easy to focus on what’s going wrong and how terrible things are. We start to feel disempowered and lose perspective on our capabilities. We may start catastrophizing about all the horrible things that could happen and have trouble looking beyond the immediate situation. By learning to focus on what’s going right and not letting our situation consume our thoughts, we not only experience less distress but will be able to think more clearly and problem solve more effectively.
Stay mindful and breath
Mindfulness is an approach to experiencing life moment by moment. When we are mindful we can deal with our situation without being judgmental or critical of ourselves or the circumstances. When we feel unpleasant we don’t have to get caught up in this. We can relax and step back, instead of brooding in this negative state. Work to be mindful of your breath. Just pay attention to your natural breathing. You can also be mindful of your senses, or your thoughts. The goal is to remain present and nonjudgmental of what is taking place. Being aware can help simplify a situation and make if easier to deal with it.
Visualize your desired outcome
Visualization is one of the most powerful ways to overcome fears and push past uneasiness. All successful musicians, athletes, and performers visualize themselves completing the task that awaits them. Visualization is different than simply day dreaming or fantasizing about an outcome we desire. We must take action and put in the work necessary to make a change. Despite what is taking place at the time we can visualize a successful outcome. This will give us psychological and emotional support to stay motivated and able to persevere, and it will keep our thinking focused on what we desire and prevent us from feeling overwhelmed or panicked.
Keep a sense of humor
Have you ever noticed that when things aren’t going the way we planned, even the smallest things can start to cause stress? When under stress we become overly serious and neglect the many moments of pleasure and gratification that surround us. Humor can really cut tension and lighten-up a difficult situation. When things seem bleak looking at things from a humorous perspective can help lighten the load. Look for humor in serious situations and use this as a tool to release your grip on control.
Focus on what you can control
When life seems completely out of control, there is always something amidst the chaos that can help us regain a sense of control. It may be something very small, and if nothing else we can always learn to control our attitude. We can’t control everything that takes place, but we can learn to focus on what we can do personally and how we can make a change. This helps us move beyond a victim mentality and to feel empowered to take action. So, what do you do to “let go” and release emotional tension? How has “letting go” helped change your life? Photo credit: Carnoodles