For many of us, the struggle with anxiety is real. We spend time thinking (and then rethinking) details, imagining potential scenarios gone wrong, and visualizing how things should go while worrying about what to do if something goes awry.
If this sounds like you, you’re not alone! Whether or not you consider yourself an anxious person, the fact is that most of us will struggle with anxiety from time to time. For some, this can lead to feelings of helplessness and hopelessness.
Oftentimes, though, anxiety and frustration boil down to one simple thing: our need to be in control. When things that are out of our hands start to spiral out of control, and we’re unable to change the circumstances, we easily become anxious, overwhelmed, frustrated, or sad.
To avoid this, we often need to change our perspective, learn to let go, and live with the fact that some things will always be out of our control!
Join us as we share our guide on how to let go of what you can't control...
First off, what does letting go really mean?
It's difficult to let go of the need to have some degree of power. When we're uncertain, we tend to feel better if we think we have some level of influence. It usually results in attempts to control outcomes, situations, others' reactions, and the environment. The more uncertain the circumstances, the more people tend to cling to attempts to exert influence over them – and then we become frustrated with our own inability to manage things or change something about a situation.
The good news is that uncertainty can be an opportunity as well as a painful experience. We don't always need to know how something will turn out before we act. Sometimes it's enough just to try and let go of the need to be in control. In fact, trying may provide us with far greater insights than if we were certain what would happen.
Control: A Paradox
Being in control is something that comes naturally to us. After all, we want to make our choices and find our own way in life. This causes problems, though, when the lines start to blur between what is ours to control and what isn’t.
The fact is that many things are outside of our control. And when we dwell on these issues – whether something that happened in the past or something that could happen in the future – it stops us from fully experiencing life and keeps us from having peace of mind.
“The more we try to control things the less control we will experience,” writes therapist and life coach Joseph Wilner. “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, but can’t have it, we feel worried, frustrated, and anxious. Our mind starts jumping to conclusions, and we start dwelling on the negative things that could potentially happen. This only becomes worse as we increasingly crave control, and soon we start living in a state of frustration, or even fear.
The solution, then, is to recognize that some things are out of our hands. But how can we arrive at a place where we accept this? How can we move on?
While relinquishing our hold on things that are beyond our control is very much a constant journey and something that will always be a work in progress, there are a few thoughts that can help us in our journey. How easy or difficult this is will largely depend on the things that you’re dealing with, but getting into the right mindset can help – especially for small day-to-day issues that arise and threaten to overwhelm you.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at a few ways that you can ease into a mindset that’s less about control, and more about acceptance.
How to Overcome Control
1. Recognize That Control is Rooted in Fear
It’s important to realize that we often want to control things, because we are afraid of the potential outcome, or fear what might happen if we relinquish control. If we are able to control our thoughts, then we are able to navigate the fear and turn our focus on being in the present moment.
2. Recognize That We’re Attached to a Specific Outcome
Other times, we’re attached to a specific outcome, and feel that it’s the only option, assuming that we always know what’s best. When we recognize that we can control those thoughts that seem to come with a specific outcome, we can change our perspective to think of a more positive and peaceful solution.
3. Recognize the Need to Let Go
This is one of the most difficult steps of the journey—and one that’s ongoing for most of us. When we recognize that some circumstances are out of our hands, we understand the need to release ourselves from the responsibility of having to control things. Once we’ve reached that point of surrender, we can trust that it is what it is—and will be okay. No matter what life throws at us, we can’t micromanage the universe. Recognizing this can help to lift a heavy burden off of our shoulders, learning how to let go of control will free us up from this tremendously overwhelming responsibility.
If you feel that you’re trying to swim upstream, it could be a sign that it’s time to let go.
The Result: What are the Benefits of Learning to Let Go?
By releasing the things you can’t control, you’ll be able to work from a place of acceptance. This means understanding that while we can’t fight against reality, we still have the ability to shape our own lives and the lives of those around us in a positive, meaningful way.
Looking for some ideas on how to let go and start living your best life? Here is our free 50 Best Practices for a Well-Designed Life printable so you can get started now. Plus, make a plan for things you can control with a daily or weekly planner by Day Designer!