“Can you deal with the most vital matters by letting events take their course? Can you step back from you own mind and thus understand all things? Giving birth and nourishing, having without possessing, acting with no expectations, leading and not trying to control: this is the supreme virtue.” ~ Lao Tzu
How many times have you suffered because of the need to control everything? How many times have you held your breath in anticipation of a favorable outcome? How many blind dates did you force yourself to go on because you had to know or you wanted a relationship now? If you’re anything like me, the answer is many. Let me guess… you also had the perfect plan in mind for how things would work out if it was the so-called right way – the job, the relationship, the house, the pregnancy, etc. And when it didn’t go your way, you simply kept fighting anything that stood in your way of the plan.
Looking back on my own life, I wish that instead of forcing things to happen, I had simply sat back and enjoyed the ride. I see now how much suffering I caused myself by being stubbornly addicted to my plan. It led to anxiety, negativity, and discontent, all because I had to know and having a plan was my way of knowing. I was so dedicated to this plan that if it happened differently, I couldn’t even see or feel that it was actually what I wanted. The truth is, “When nothing is sure, anything is possible!” And sometimes the possibilities are ones that we couldn’t have ever imagined ourselves.
This deep-rooted fear around the unknowns of life impacts many. So much so that we have resisted the journey and denied ourselves the right to enjoy life. Does this sound familiar?
How to Overcome the Need to Control Everything
Below you’ll find 7 simple ways that are mean to help you overcome the need to control everything and relax into life.
1. Realize that there are many paths to getting there.
Sometimes we are so set on our ideal way that we don’t realize many streams lead to the sea. In other words, just because it doesn’t happen one way doesn’t mean it’s not happening a different way.
“Say not, ‘I have found the truth,’ but rather, ‘I have found a truth.’ Say not, ‘ I have found the path of the soul.’ Say rather, ‘I have met the soul walking upon my path.’ For the soul walks upon all paths. The soul walks not upon a line, neither does it grow like a reed. The soul unfolds itself, like a lotus of countless petals.” ~ Kahlil Gibran
2. Notice if there is any area of your life where you are holding on too tight.
Hint: You know you are holding on too tight because you feel overwhelmed and under pressure about the outcome.
Write about it and release it onto paper. Zoom out and try to see the bigger picture. Is it possible that you have been looking at this situation through a narrow lens because of fear? What else is possible? Use your imagination.
“By letting it go it all gets done. The world is won by those who let it go. But when you try and try. The world is beyond the winning.” ~ Lao Tzu
3. Start using the affirmation “I go with the flow of life and trust that things work out for me.”
Affirmations bring a new message to your subconscious mind. For years you might have been thinking, ‘this is how things should work out, and if they don’t work out this way then things are bad’. Create a new way of thinking about life by repeating this to yourself daily.
4. Be ok with NOT KNOWING.
Use the quote by Margaret Drabble “when nothing is sure, anything is possible” to remind yourself that not knowing is a beautiful thing and leads to life-changing experiences and discoveries.
5. Imagine yourself as an 80-year-old grandparent reminiscing about your life.
You already know how everything turned out in your life and you smile at the memories. The greatest memories and stories you will tell your children and grandchildren of your life will most likely be the surprises, the last-minute changes, and the random incidents that lead to something important. In the grand scheme of things, this is what life is really about!
6. Choose a new word(s) to support your life.
You may not have realized it, but there are words that we use to define the good and bad experiences in life, and we all want the good. For instance, perfect, skinny, fast, rich, safe are often ideals of what makes something good, while scary, long, painful, and shocking are considered bad. What if you choose a better word? What if you reached higher to replace perfect with exciting, scary with adventurous, fast with natural, and painful with healing?
7. Collect evidence from past experiences.
Make a list of times when you either had no idea what was going to happen or when you had a plan and things didn’t turn out how you wanted. List all the positives that came out of that experience. Notice how one door being closed led to a different opportunity.
Now take a moment to breathe and imagine you have freed yourself from your plan and trusted in the unknowns. Imagine enjoying your job or blind dates and finding that you had a good time and learned something about yourself even though that position or person wasn’t meant to be. With this level of acceptance, the possibilities are endless!
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