Letting go of control… and being OK with it.
That is one of the greatest struggles many of us deal with on a daily basis, myself included.
Because letting go of control goes directly against our modernized, industrialized way of living – we are go-getters, doers, architects of our destiny. We build things and make things happen on our own terms; we don’t wait for anything to happen on someone else’s terms! At least that’s what I learned growing up from teachers, sports coaches, movies, songs, magazine articles, and so forth. So allowing things to happen was not in my DNA. I had never been one to sit back and passively let go of control.
Over the years, however, my perspective has shifted. I’ve learned the hard way that a great deal of the control we believe we have over our lives is an illusion. For example, I’ve since met….
- the young man who had his life turned upside down by cancer
- the young woman, and mother of two, who lost her husband to death at 27
- the whole neighborhood of families who lost their homes in a hurricane
- the hard-working employee who lost her job when her employer of 25 years filed for bankruptcy
- the 10x marathon runner who lost his leg in a hit an run car accident
- the mom whose son has Down syndrome despite her doing everything right during pregnancy
- and dozens of other people just like them…
It happens every day – situations we think we have control over, but we really don’t.
So what can we do?
Let GO! Be mindful…
The Mind is the Battleground
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the mind is our biggest battleground. It’s the place where the strongest conflict resides. It’s where half of the things we thought were going to happen, never did happen. It’s where our expectations always get the best of us. It’s where we fall victim to our cravings to control the uncontrollable.
And if we allow these thoughts and cravings to dwell in our minds, they will succeed in robbing us of peace, joy, and ultimately our lives. We will think ourselves into deep heartache and even depression.
Truthfully, there’s so much about life that we can’t control, it makes no sense to waste all our energy on these things and then blatantly neglect everything we CAN control.
We can decide how we spend our time right now, whom we socialize with – whom we share our lives with. We can choose to love and appreciate the people in our lives for exactly who they are. We can choose how we’re going to respond to life’s surprises and disappointments when they arise, and whether we will see them as curses or opportunities for personal growth.
And most importantly, we can choose to adjust our attitudes and let go of all our worries about everything we can’t control, which in turn frees us up to take the next best step forward in our lives.
Quotes to Stop Worrying About the Uncontrollable
Like you, I still struggle with letting go of control sometimes. So I’ve implemented a simple strategy for helping myself with this predicament. In a nutshell, I proactively remind myself NOT to worry about things I can’t control. Anytime I catch myself doing so, I pause and read the following seven quotes (taken from our books and email newsletter archive) to myself. Then I take some deep breaths, and reassess the situation with a more mindful presence…
- You can’t control everything that happens to you, but you CAN control the way you respond. And in your response is your greatest power. Yes, most of your stress comes directly from the way you think and respond, not the way life is. Adjust your attitude, and all that extra stress is gone.
- Don’t bother worrying about whether there will be problems. There will be plenty of them, and you’ll work your way through every one of them.
- If you worry too much about what might be, and wonder too long about what might have been, you will ignore and completely miss what is. Realize that worrying is a misuse of your incredible creative energy. Instead of imagining the worst, imagine the best and how you can bring it about. (Marc and I show how in the “Happiness” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
- Today is a choice. Today, choose grace over impatience, beauty over negativity, and presence over panic.
- There is absolutely nothing about your present situation – even the aspects you can’t control – that prevents you from making little bits of progress today.
- You are alive and breathing, so behave like it. Let go of what’s wrong and grab a hold of what’s right. Make things happen, and then let things happen. Learn, accept, explore, create and experience, every single day, one tiny step at a time. (Marc and I build tiny, life-changing daily rituals with our students in the “Goals and Growth” module of Getting Back to Happy.)
- Keep being mindful. Keep breathing deeply. Things ultimately turn out best for people who make the best out of the way things turn out.
And because there’s an obvious correlation to this post, I’ll leave you with a little something I have pinned to my office bulletin board for 2023:
5 Rules of Happiness:
- Don’t Hate
- Don’t Worry
- Give More
- Expect Less
- Live Simply
Which quote or reminder above resonated the most with you? And what else do you try to keep in mind to stop yourself from worrying about things you can’t control? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts and insights with us.
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Photo by: Jared Erondu