How different would your day look if you let go of the impulse to control outcomes and other people’s behavior? What if you just let go and let it all be? Did your mind begin anxiously racing through all the things that could go wrong?
We all want agency over our lives, and to a great extent, we have it. However, things go awry when we try to exert control over things that are inherently beyond our control. We spend so much energy trying to change the unchangeable. But here’s a simple truth: you aren’t in control. You ARE in partnership with the Universe.
Ahead, I’m sharing five actionable ways to let go of control for a happier life.
Step 1: Focus on what you can control.
Things that you can control are your actions, reactions, and words. Things that you cannot control include the weather, traffic, other people’s behavior, and what people think of us.
Assuming it is something that you can control, ask yourself if you need to. Some things just aren’t really that important. If it is something that you can change, and it’s important to you, put your energy into it and do the best you can.
Step 2: Understand why you feel the need to control the uncontrollable.
When you think about a situation or person that you can’t control but feel compelled to try, identify the feeling underneath the desire to control. Does the situation cause fear? Do you think things won’t work out the way you want? Are you afraid you will lose someone’s love or respect? Analyze those thoughts and seek to understand what they’re telling you and where they are coming from. Treat your control issues like a dear friend. Listen, be gentle, and give them your full attention.
Step 3: Accept the outcome in advance.
To let go of controlling impulses, we have to be willing to accept the outcome, whatever it is. Likely it won’t be just as we’d pictured it, but by letting go, we allow room for an even better outcome to occur. I describe this step as surrendering to the process of life. For many, the word surrender suggests giving up and thereby giving something away. Quite the opposite, surrender is the simple act of yielding to the flow of life rather than opposing it. It means refocusing your energy on what is within your control and letting go of what is not. It’s about acting and reacting in ways that support your growth when life unfolds in unexpected ways.
Letting go allows us to transcend painful emotions like disappointment, anger, and sadness. Because at the core of surrender is the conviction that the Universe is merciful and ultimately working in our best interest (even when we don’t understand how).
Step 4: Have a mantra.
Mantras are powerful shorthand. Have one ready when you need to remind yourself of your decision to let go of the things you can’t control. Here are a few examples.
- I know what to surrender and what not to.
- I am not in control, and that’s OK. I never was.
- Surrender is not weakness. There is great strength in letting go.
- I have certainty in the process, even when the outcome is unknown.
Step 5: Revel in how much better you feel.
Letting go gives us more freedom than control ever could.
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