All of us want some element of control in our lives. We try to plan out that five-year check list. We try to prepare for each day, every interaction, etc. However, all of us could use a lesson in letting go….We need to let go. We need to trust that things will work out the way they’re meant to, and that by letting go life will bring us to where we are needed most. It doesn’t matter how much we try to plan and control, there is always a chance it won’t work out. Life often has different plans for us than we have for ourselves, and that’s just the way it goes!
~Not being in control isn’t the same as being out of control.
I’ve had a few people in my life tell me that I need to work on letting go of control. I struggled with that for some time, because how do you just let go? How can you just assume things will work out, and not feel the need to have control over the outcome? Then recently I heard the above quote not being in control isn’t the same as being out of control, and it all began to make more sense to me.
Letting go of control means being open to many outcomes. This kind of mindset is healthy and it helps us to stay present; it helps us to worry less because we aren’t so focused on ensuring things work out just the way we planned them to. Being out of control is so much different than that. Being out of control means not having conscious control over our behaviors; to be unruly or wild. These two concepts are polar opposites from one another, yet we combine them to mean the same thing. We combine the concept of letting go of the need to control with the concept of being out of control. We combine a healthy outlook on life to being unruly and ‘out of hand’.
Letting go is to accept the unknown. It means being less stressed and open to new and unexpected possibilities. And how exciting does that sound, if we are open to it?! There is no event or interaction in your life that you can have complete control over. Of course, sometimes this can be stressful and frustrating, but at the end of the day what option do we have? We need to loosen up our expectations as to how we look at the world and our ‘plans’. If we don’t loosen up, we give energy to things that are not in our control, and what a waste of time that is.
Sometimes letting go means that our life feels stagnant, but why do we always need things to be progressing or moving? Progress can be a stand-still. Being stagnant can be growth if we view it through a positive lens, and it can be an important piece of life we don’t want to miss out on. When we are constantly planning out the next thing and ‘controlling’ situations, we miss out on the ease and beauty within those stand-still moments. It’s these times where we have an opportunity to exhale and ‘just be’ for a while. Keep present, as everything happens there; only this moment truly counts. And quit panicking, progress can be stagnant but that doesn’t mean we aren’t moving forward.
There is no magic answer as to how to let go and make this an effortless habit. It is difficult for me every single day. But, remembering these little tidbits of positive reframing around our thoughts regarding control is a great first step. Acceptance is also key here. Accept the uncertainty of each day and the challenges it will bring. The challenges we face each day are what makes us resilient and what makes us better, more patient and appreciative people. Reminding myself of these things has reduced my stress and helped me to be more grateful in each present moment. Taking a step back, breathing, and enjoying life’s curve balls has made me a better friend, sister, daughter, coworker; the list goes on and on!
And just in case you forgot….Not being in control isn’t the same as being out of control.
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.