We live in a world that’s constantly changing and it’s close to impossible to try to control that. Change is the one constant thing in this world and even if you try, you can’t control the outcome in your life.
You can’t run away from change, you can only adapt to the changes that happen, no matter how uncomfortable they are.
With this, it can seem frustrating trying to let go of the need for control, especially when you constantly worry about what’s to happen in the future. In this article, we’ll be talking about how to let go of control.
What It Means to Let Go of Control
When you let go of control, it means that you don’t obsess over the details in your life. It means that even when things do go the way you expected, you aren’t going to try and bend your life in that direction.
Oftentimes, when difficult situations happen, we do everything we can so we get our way. While it may work initially, it doesn’t always work in our direction.
Life is unexpected and letting go of control means that you trust that things will eventually be okay, even if you don’t force it. The biggest consequence of controlling an outcome is your peace because we were never meant to control outcomes.
12 Simple Steps Steps to Letting Go of Control
1. Use affirmations
When the need for control really gets in your way, affirmations act as an important role to encourage and motivate you.
When you forget why you’re losing the need to control things, remind yourself that it’s for the better and that while things seem bad now, it’s not a permanent situation.
2. Have faith
Faith doesn’t always mean a divine thing, but it can also mean have faith in people, yourself, or in everything.
To surrender control, you need to have faith that things will get better. Faith is the key ingredient to feel at peace with not having control of certain aspects of your life.
3. Live in the present
The majority of the time, we want to control things because we either live in the past or live for the future. You need to live in the present moment in order to fully let go of control.
You never realize how much you can miss a moment just because you’re elsewhere.
4. Accept your lack of control
Humans are flawed and trying to control everything will only lead to more chaos and anxiety. Acceptance is an important step in letting go of the need to control and embracing what’s to come.
5. Adapt to changes
Another reason why we feel the need to control is our inadaptable nature.
We fail to accept that change is coming so we counter it the best we could by trying to control an outcome, which never works for the best.
6. Trust in everything
Even if trust is a big word, like faith, you need to trust that not everything is as bad as it seems. In fact, you’d be surprised how bad a problem seems in your mind isn’t the way things actually are.
7. Take accountability
We may feel the need for control when we don’t want to admit our mistakes and wrongdoings. This also goes for blaming ourselves too harshly in a self-destructive manner.
To let go of control, you need to accept it and take accountability for your actions.
8. Learn from it
Instead of trying to control a difficult situation, you can instead let it go and learn from it.
There’s absolutely nothing you can do during tough times to change the facts, but you can use it as a stepping stone to grow and improve yourself.
Meditation is a practice that helps you gain control while also letting go, at the same time. It helps you gain inner peace while helping you deal with the negative emotions you feel with a situation.
Meditation will help you better let go of the need for control and to have faith that things will work out.
10. Realize the effects
Needing control has a variety of effects other than making yourself feel more frustrated than ever.
When you realize that it’s affecting your mental health, you see that control has no benefit in your life other than anxiety and burden.
11. What’s meant to be will find its way
When you realize that stressing over something you can’t control won’t get you anywhere near what you want, you’ll eventually let go of the need to control.
Everything you’re trying to control will be yours if you’re patient enough.
The last step in this list is to breathe. You just need to breathe and stop letting yourself get frustrated over something you can’t control.
Your need to control comes from either fear, insecurity, or perfectionism. No matter what fear you have, you’ll eventually end up where you’re supposed to.
Why We Feel the Need to Control Things in Life
A lot of people feel the need to control because they’re afraid of what their future holds, or they don’t want to tolerate a difficult situation they’re going through.
Humans are flawed and it’s only natural that we build the life that we want in every aspect. However, not only does it hold an impossible standard, but an unhealthy one. You can only try, but you’ll never succeed in controlling certain outcomes in your life.
Life is unexpected and that’s part of life’s charm. You never know when life is going in your favor or against it.
I hope this article was able to shed insight on how to let go of control. Even when it’s difficult and frustrating, it’s how to live the best quality of your life.
Holding on to the need for control will constantly hold you back in situations, even without being aware of it. If it’s a need for perfection or a fear, realize that control is not the answer to what you’re afraid of. None of us hold the answers to anything, but it’s not something you’re getting by holding on to control.
Take a lesson from the ancient Stoics.
Posted Jul 02, 2019
As evidence that one is not defined by their station in life, the great Stoic philosopher of first-century Rome, Epictetus (circa 55 – 135 AD), was born into slavery, which likely affected his general outlook on life. Among his teachings was the importance of knowing what we can control and what we can’t. His general prescription for a good life was simply this: Control what you can and let go of what you can’t control.
This ancient prescription has resonated through the ages and is embodied in the famous Serenity Prayer by 20th century American Christian theologian Reinhold Niebuhr (1892–1971), expressed here in its briefest and best-known version:
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.
Whether said as a prayer or expressed as a philosophy of life, psychologists recognize the wisdom of knowing the boundaries between the things we can control and those we can’t.
Taking a Lesson from the Ancient Stoics
To Epictetus and the Stoics, the challenge of living a balanced and serene life involves accepting our place in the natural order of things. We live, we die, and the world goes on. We should measure the quality of our lives not by what we acquire, but in how we lead our lives. The Stoics believed in enjoying the good things in life while cautioning that we shouldn’t become slaves to our desires and wants. Nor should we become so invested in things that we believe we couldn’t possibly survive losing them. Truth be told, everything we have in life is eventually lost during our lifetime or finally relinquished upon our death.
The Stoics remind us to be happy with what we’ve got, with our lives as they are, rather than spending precious time chasing every possible want or desire. We shouldn’t spend our lives dwelling on the “if only’s” but instead come to appreciate life as it is. There’s a word for this—acceptance. This does not imply we should adopt a demeanor of resignation or passivity. Rather, it calls for us to embrace living our lives day-to-day and appreciate what each moment has to offer. By contrast, spending precious time wishing, wanting, and demanding that things be different is a prescription for personal misery.
Stoics famously practiced self-denial and steeled themselves in the face of adversity, but they also believed in savoring the simple pleasures of life, such as enjoying family time, spending time with friends, and having a good meal. But they drew a line between enjoying a meal and gluttony. You can put Stoicism into practice in your daily life by enjoying the simple pleasures of life and not fretting about what you don’t have.
Stoic philosophy, expressed so succinctly by Epictetus, is embodied in the precepts of what is today the leading form of psychotherapy, cognitive behavior therapy (CBT). Some two thousand years ago, Epictetus wrote what could well be a maxim today for CBT, “People are not disturbed by things, but by the view they take of them.” Although the Stoics were deterministic, believing that events are fated, Epictetus taught that we can at least control our mental attitudes toward life experiences and how we react to them.
Epictetus taught that psychological well-being is not determined by the vicissitudes of life, but rather by the judgments or interpretations we impose on events we experience. This principle is put into practice countless times each day by CBT therapists who help their patients restructure how they think about themselves and their life experiences, to separate facts (external events) from opinions (thoughts and beliefs). The very first sentence in the Enchiridion, or handbook of Epictetus—a collection of his teachings compiled by one of his disciples—aptly depicts the challenge of coming to terms with our place in the scheme of things: “Some things are up to us and others are not.”
It is easier to change ourselves, the Stoics teach, than to change the world. Easier, yes, but I would add, not always easy. Stoicism teaches yet another enduring truth, that we can only expect of ourselves to make our best effort and accept whatever happens. However disappointing the outcome may be, we need to face reality in the light of reason and be prepared to move on.
The Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius (121 – 180 AD), himself a renowned Stoic philosopher, was heavily influenced by the teachings of Epictetus. Among his best-known sayings is also something of a maxim in CBT, “Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.” In tribute to the teachings of Epictetus, Marcus also wrote, “You have power over your mind — not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”
As a CBT therapist, I work with patients to help them stop beating themselves up for not being able to control what is beyond their ability to control. Patients learn to recognize what they can and can’t control, as in these examples:
- You can’t control other people’s responses, but you can control what you say or do when responding to others.
- You can’t control the thoughts that pop into your head, but you can control how you respond to those thoughts.
- You can’t control everything that happens in life. What you can control is limited, just how limited is hard to say.
- You can’t expect other people to always meet your needs or put your needs first.
- You can’t expect to succeed in everything you do. Even all-star baseball players make far more outs than hits.
- You can’t control what other people think of you, but you can control how you respond to criticism.
- You can’t expect to get out of life alive, so it’s best the make the most of the time you have.
- You can’t directly control how you feel, but you can control how you deal with your emotions and the thoughts that trigger negative feelings. (Check out other entries on this blog for ways of handling negative emotional states like anxiety, depression, anger, guilt, and worry).
The Stoics teach that we should clearly distinguish between things within our power to control and things not in our power. Realize this and will you find strength. Wisdom comes from recognizing what you can control and what you can’t. Many people today take a broader view of what we can control than did the classical Stoics. I submit there are many things we can control. We can control our actions, the goals we pursue, the values we adopt, and our mental attitudes. Yet we also need to recognize we can’t control that which lies beyond our reach. So, paraphrasing Epictetus, what things are up to you and what aren’t?
If you feel struggling to control things that are beyond you, you know how it feels to want to control all aspects of your life but you just can’t. We all must learn to relinquish control when things are beyond our power. There are many techniques to learning to surrender and accept what you simply can’t control.
Identify Exactly Your Fear
The need to keep control is almost always rooted in fear. You know how it goes: you start to imagine how things will go if you don’t stay in control. The fear kicks in, and then so does the wish to stay in control. You want to avoid the horrible ending you’ve envisioned. Once you find what you fear, you can let go of the preservation tactic of control.
Recognize What You Can Control
When you feel your life spiraling away from you, remember that there are some things you can control. Even if it’s something very small, focusing on that aspect of your situation can calm you so you can regain perspective. Then, it becomes easier to relinquish control over things that really aren’t in your hands. Focus on what you personally can do, and how you can make changes. This will help you move beyond feeling like a victim so you’re empowered to act. A psychic reading online can help you pinpoint your strengths.
What Will Be The Outcome if You Let Go
Once you know what’s sparking your fear, stop to question whether that fear is valid. Is your fear true? For example, if you fear that your husband forgetting to pick up spinach will ruin your day, take a moment to think what will happen if you don’t remind him for the tenth time. Will the day really be a disaster, and what’s your definition of disaster anyway?
Take a deep breath. You feel better, don’t you? Exercise mindfulness to experience life in each moment. It helps you deal with the situation without judgment or criticism. You don’t have to get caught up in feeling unpleasant. Step back, relax, and pay attention to your natural breathing to avoid brooding. A psychic phone reading can help you see a situation clearly. Just being aware of a situation can help you to simplify and figure out how best to act.
Once you’ve put things into perspective and started to live in the moment, you can take the greatest step of them all. Letting go. Stop fighting with yourself, with the natural order of the world, and what’s meant to happen. There’s not reason to fight reality. If you notice you’re in your mindset of trying to keep control, deliberately and consciously choose to shift your energy into surrendering. Not fighting often leads to better results. Does letting go feel freeing? In almost all cases, it does. Some things are just beyond our control. Once you start to accept this reality, you can let go and accept what’s beyond your control, and in doing so, regain a sense of peace.
As you grow up, you may start to realize that you have to say goodbye to certain things. While you’ve probably heard of letting go of bad relationships, or your past mistakes, it’s still possible that nobody has taught you how to let go of control in general. Micromanaging every aspect of your life can be exhausting. And if you’re anything like me, you know exactly how tiring it can be.
I tend to be a victim of my own insecurities, which often holds me back from fully living a happy, carefree life. I worry about the what ifs instead of focusing on the present. But forcing situations to happen because you believe they should happen exactly the way you want them to is just not healthy. Let’s be honest: There’s no way you can control everyone and everything in your life. While being a control freak is not necessarily a bad thing in all situations, you don’t want it to completely take over your thought process and relationships. There are a lot of reasons why people choose to control every aspect of their life. Whether it’s from the fear of something bad happening or lack of trust in others, it’s a behavior that needs to change so you can start enjoying life again вЂ” whether you’re in control or not. With that being said, here are some ways you can learn how to be more flexible and easygoing.
1. Be Honest With Yourself
One of the best ways to let go of control is to figure out where exactly this emotion is coming from. According to The Huffington Post, motivational keynote speaker Mike Robbins said, “With empathy and honesty, take a look at where, how and why you hold on tight to control in whatever way you do.” Try to find the core reason why you need to micromanage every aspect of your life. Is it because you have a fear of the unknown? Or do you have a lack of trust when it comes to your relationships or career? Answer these questions honestly, and hopefully they will enlighten you to a brand new life.
2. Imagine What Would Happen If You Actually Let Go
Before you start to control a situation, try to envision what would happened if you didn’t. A lot of the time, wanting control comes from fear, and while being cautious of the future can be a good thing, you also want to find a healthy balance. According to Tiny Buddha, we tend to control things to prevent anything from going wrong. Question the validity of your fear when you feel like you’re being controlling. If you let go of control, will the future alter in a drastic, negative way? If the answer is no, then let it go. It’s time to take charge of your life rather than letting your fears take control of you.
3. Learn To Live In The Present
People tend to control things because they’re afraid of what the future might hold, or perhaps they’re scared to repeat a past mistake. Stop worrying about the what ifs and pay attention to the current moment at hand. According to Reader’s Digest, to fully be in the moment, try to do less. When someone micromanages every aspect of their life, they tend to forget how to live because they have way too many things on their plate. Try to figure out what’s most important. Do those tasks, and learn to delegate the rest, if possible.
4. Considered The Things You Do Have Control Over
While you may be making choices for yourself every single day, there are things you literally have no control over. Instead of trying to micromanage everything, be mindful of what you do have control over. According to Entrepreneur, nationally renowned performance consultant, speaker and award-winning author John Brubaker said, “Focusing on the conditions is counterproductive. There are plenty of things we can complain about, but it’s a waste of emotional energy to focus on things we cannot control.” Brubaker continued, “All you can control is what I call your A.P.E. вЂ” attitude, process and effort. These are the only three things we each have complete control over.” Try to grasp the fact that you can truly only control yourself вЂ” there’s no point in making yourself stress over things you cannot.
5. Be Flexible
Being flexible is a key aspect of learning to have less control over things, and ultimately how to enjoy life more. According to PsychCentral, Sandra Sanger, PhD, said, “A hallmark of mental health is the ability to be flexible вЂ” in behaviors and responses, and in relationship to feelings and thoughts. When you need to have control, you forgo flexibility and place a lower than necessary ceiling on your capacity for engaging in and enjoying life.” Once you determine what issues you can be more flexible with, you may be able to use that energy for something more meaningful instead.
6. Learn To Trust
To let go, you have to have faith that things will work out. Don’t let your fear or mistrust lead you down a spiral of worry and stress. If you feel like that moment of control is coming up in a situation, take a moment to breathe and trust that it will be OK. According to The Huffington Post, founder of SPARKLE and accountability and empowerment coach Lauren Stahl said, “Trust means belief. And belief means you honor and respect yourself. This is where your self-worth comes in and you can let go of the need to control.”
It might sound ironic, but for you to take control back in your life, you should learn to let the little things go. While you may believe that you can control a lot in your life, the reality is that you really only have control over one thing: your emotions. Begin by using some of these tips to help you find the balance you need. Be patient and over time, you may learn which battles you should pick to help you achieve a healthier, carefree life.
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Twelve tips on how to let go so you can have personal freedom.
“To let go does not mean to get rid of. To let go means to let be. When we let be with compassion, things come and go on their own.” –Jack Kornfield
Holding on to pain doesn’t fix anything. Replaying the past over and over again doesn’t change it, and wishing things were different doesn’t make it so. In some cases, especially when it comes to the past, all you can do is accept whatever it is you’re holding on to and then let it go. That’s how everything changes. You have to let go of what is hurting you, even if it feels almost impossible. Deciding to hold on to the past will hold you back from creating a strong sense of self — a self that isn’t defined by your past, but rather by who you want to be. Oddly enough, painful feelings can be comfortable, especially if they’re all you know. Some people have trouble letting go of their pain or other unpleasant emotions about their past because they think those feelings are part of their identity. In some ways, they may not know who they are without their pain. This makes it impossible for them to let go.
If you find it hard to let go of the past, a bad relationship, grudges, etc., these 12 tips could help:
1. Understand that the relationships you thought you’d have are going to be different than the ones you actually have.
We must accept the person we are in this moment and the way other people are, too. As time goes on, we continue to learn that things don’t always go as planned — actually, they pretty much never do. And that’s okay: If you become aware of yourself and your part of your relationships, they will improve; however, you may also have to accept facts about certain people in your life. Practice gratitude, appreciation, and trust in the process.
2. Don’t be invested in the outcome when it comes to dealing with people, because it often leads to disappointment.
Expectations have a way of keeping us stuck because they lead us to fear certain outcomes. There are no guarantees in life, and there’s nothing we can really do to get the outcomes we desire when dealing with others. When our expectations or needs aren’t met, we need to respond rationally and appropriately. Sometimes this means setting respectful boundaries; other times, it means letting go.
3. Don’t live in chains when you have the key. We live with self-limiting beliefs that we let define who we are.
We think, “I could never do that!” or “I could never make that happen!” If you truly believe that, you’ll never accomplish your goals. Open up your mind, and believe in yourself. There will be many people who tell you that you can’t do it. It’s up to you to prove them wrong.
4. Let go of the idea that you can control others’ actions. We really only have control over ourselves and how we act.
You can’t change another person, so don’t waste your time and energy trying. I think this is the biggest factor that pushes people to hold onto unhelpful behaviors, like the need to please. We think, “If only I do everything for everyone, they’ll never get mad at me.” Wrong!
5. Only worry about what you think of yourself.
Free yourself from being controlled by what other people think. Start to prioritize how you feel about yourself. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” You can’t live by your values if you’re living for the approval of others.
6. Leave room for mistakes.
Did you make a mistake or say something stupid? It’s okay! Use the experience to learn and make a joke. It doesn’t make you stupid to say something wrong or silly: it makes you human, and sometimes even funny.
7. Accept the things you cannot change.
Stop wishing things could be the way they once were. Bring yourself into the present moment. This is where life happens. You can’t change the past; you can only make decisions today to help how your future turns out.
8. Don’t take yourself too seriously.
This will allow you to relax and enjoy life’s journey. I laugh with myself and at myself all the time.
9. Do what scares you.
Fear holds us back from doing a lot of things because it closes our minds to possibilities for our future and locks us into our comfort zone. Most fears fill us with doubt and “what ifs” that imprison us. The more you do to get out of your comfort zone, the more fear will subside. In life, do what scares you, and you’ll grow and succeed!
10. Express what works for you.
Find your voice, and share with others what you’re thinking and feeling in a rational way. If you continue to communicate with others what works for you and doesn’t work for you, you’ll no longer bottle up your emotions. Expressing yourself is an important part of feeling good about yourself and your relationships.
11. Allow yourself to feel negative emotions.
Whether you lost a loved one through death or a break-up, honor your loss. Trying to ignore your negative emotions will extend your suffering. Loss is difficult to experience, and it’s okay to allow yourself to hurt and be sad. Let yourself feel, and go through the grief process so that you can move forward.
12. Learn forgiveness.
Resentment and unwillingness to forgive will keep you locked in the past and prevent you from moving forward with your life. Remember: When you forgive, you aren’t doing it for the other person; you’re doing it for yourself. If for no other reason than that, forgive and let go.
Carl Jung said, “I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.” There’s a lesson in that for all of us: Try to let go of whatever it is that’s holding you back from experiencing yourself. You’ll probably realize that you are not what other people say you are. You are not your pain, your past, or your emotions. It’s the negative ideas about ourselves and our hurtful self-talk that get in the way of who we really want to be. Being able to let go requires a strong sense of self, which gives you the ability to learn and grow from your experiences.
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There’s a brutal truth about life that some people refuse to accept—you have no control over many of the things that happen to you.
People who resist this truth fall into two categories—control freaks or worry warts. Control freaks believe if they can gain enough control over others, and the situations they find themselves in, they can somehow prevent bad things from happening.
Worry warts, on the other hand, fret about everything from natural disasters to deadly diseases. It’s as if they believe thinking hard enough about all the potential worst case scenarios will somehow keep them safe.
Watch on Forbes:
But neither of these strategies can prevent a catastrophe. Instead, worry warts and control freaks put their time and energy into the wrong places. And ultimately, those strategies backfire and create even more stress.
Here are six ways to stop stressing about the things you can’t control:
1. Determine what you can control.
In reality, there are many things in life you have zero control over. You can’t force your spouse to change, you can’t prevent a storm from happening, and you can’t control how other people feel.
Sometimes, all you can control is your effort and your attitude. When you put your energy into the things you can control, you’ll be much more effective.
2. Identify your fears.
Are you predicting a catastrophic outcome? Do you doubt your ability to cope with an undesirable outcome?
Usually, the worst case scenario isn’t as horrible as you might imagine. But quite often, people are so busying thinking, “This is going to be a disaster,” that they don’t take the time to ask themselves, “What would I do if the worst case scenario came true?”
Perhaps you’d struggle for a while, but there’s a good chance you’re mentally strong enough to bounce back. Acknowledging that you can handle the worst case scenario can help you put your energy into more productive places.
3. Concentrate on your influence.
You can’t force things to go your way. But you can have a strong influence.
So while you can’t make your child be a good student, you can give him the tools he needs to do his best. And while you can’t force people to have fun at a party, you can create the best party atmosphere possible.
To have the most influence, however, you need to be in control of your behavior. So do your best and keep a good attitude.
When you have concerns about someone else’s choices, share your opinion, but only share it once. Don’t try to fix people who don’t want to be fixed.
4. Differentiate between ruminating and problem-solving.
Replaying yesterday’s conversations in your head and dwelling on catastrophic outcomes isn’t helpful. But solving a problem is.
So ask yourself whether you’re ruminating or problem-solving. If you are seeking solutions, keep thinking about ways to prevent problems and increase your chances of success.
If you’re ruminating, however, change the channel in your brain. Acknowledge that your thoughts aren’t helpful. Get involved in an activity that will distract you for a few minutes and get your brain focused on something more productive.
5. Create a stress management plan.
Whether life is going well or you’re encountering tough times, stress management strategies are key to performing at your peak. Exercising, eating healthy, participating in leisure activities and getting plenty of sleep are just a few key things you need to do to take care of yourself.
Schedule time to engage in healthy stress relievers. Whether you enjoy yoga or you want to spend time with friends, make time for those activities regardless of how busy you are.
Also, be on the lookout for unhealthy coping skills. Drinking too much, binge watching TV, and complaining may offer temporary relief, but they’ll create more problems for you over the long-term.
6. Develop healthy affirmations.
Scientists estimate people have about 70,000 thoughts per day. Many of those thoughts incite feelings of self-doubt, fear, and discouragement.
Keeping a few positive healthy affirmations on hand can help combat negative thinking. So whether you remind yourself, “I’m stronger than I think,” or “I can handle this,” your affirmations can help drown out the negativity.
With practice, you can train your brain to think differently. And you’ll begin to accept that while you can’t control every situation, you can control how you think, feel, and behave.
No one likes to mess up. But for those of us with a mix of obsessive-compulsive disorder and perfectionism, we can become debilitated by the guilt and regret following a blunder. Our brains are stuck on the stupidity of our actions, rehashing the events as if doing so will change what happened.
How do you break free this painful loop of regret? After reading through a dozen self-help books on this topic and talking with people who have learned how to get beyond their errors, I compiled these eight strategies.
1. Forgive yourself for what you didn’t know.
Maya Angelou once wrote, “Forgive yourself for not knowing what you didn’t know before you learned it.” So often we view a mistake through the lens of our knowledge today and bash ourselves for making decisions based on that insight. However, we didn’t know what we didn’t know. We made the decision or acted the way we did with the facts that we had at the time. Just as we can’t expect a second-grader to perform perfectly on a high school calculus test, we need to give ourselves a break for doing the best given the facts and knowledge we had.
2. Trust your instincts.
Repeat this as a mantra when you get caught in the self-doubt loop: Whatever happened was the right thing because that is what happened. Instead of playing out a number of better scenarios in your mind, try to trust the instincts with which you made the decision.
Also keep in mind that it’s easy to confuse regret with the anxiety that is part of change, especially if your “mistake” involved a major life transition. Our brains have a negativity bias, often focusing on panic more than peace. Continuing with the status-quo is always more comfortable, so it makes sense that you are second-guessing a harder path. However, with a little time, the wisdom of your decision will become more apparent. The challenge is to stop second-guessing yourself until you can see the situation with more clarity.
3. Be kind to yourself.
In her book Self-Compassion, Kristin Neff, PhD, writes “If our pain is caused by a misstep we have made – this is precisely the time to give ourselves compassion. Rather than relentlessly cutting ourselves down when we fall, even if our fall is a spectacular one, we do have another option. We can recognize that everyone has times when they blow I, and treat ourselves kindly.”
She goes on to say that this involves more than stopping self-judgment. We have to actively comfort ourselves, just as we would a friend. She recommends hugging yourself or journaling. I find it helpful to write a letter to my inner child, reassuring her that she is loved despite her slip-ups, that she is beautiful in her imperfections.
4. Concentrate on the rebound, not the fall.
It’s not about how hard you fall; it’s about how gracefully you get up. Success isn’t about not making mistakes, it’s about the rebound. “Anyone can give up,” said black-belt martial artist and Chris Bradford, “it is the easiest thing in the world to do. But to hold it together when everyone would expect you to fall apart, now that is true strength.” So remove the tail between your legs. It serves no purpose.
You can be bold with your mistakes, if you are bold with your recovery. Because what matters in the end is the integrity and poise with which you handled failure. That’s the enduring message you send. Take a cue from Thomas Edison who said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
5. Celebrate your cracks.
There is a valuable lesson in Kintsugi, the Japanese art of fixing broken pottery with gold. By accentuating the fractures in a piece as opposed to covering them up, the pottery becomes even more valuable than its flawless original. The practice is related to the Japanese aesthetic wabi-sabi, celebrating beauty that is “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete.” Our mistakes are the refiner’s fire that sharpen the parts of us that would otherwise remain dull. They allow us to become more interesting, sensitive, compassionate, and wise human being.
6. Focus on your mistakes.
In her book Better By Mistake, Alina Tugend provides science to back up her claim that the best way to become an expert in your field is to focus on your mistakes. Among her case studies was the success of Bill Robertie, a world-class backgammon, chess, and poker player. After each chess match, he analyzes all of his moves, dissecting his errors to better inform the next round. This is a good practice for all of life’s moves. While it’s painful to revisit our errors, they contain valuable lessons that we can apply to different areas of our lives. Within the humiliations are heard-earned pearls of truth and wisdom. Henry Ford once said, “The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.”
7. Find the silver lining.
Oprah Winfrey told the 2013 graduating class of Harvard University that, “There is no such thing as failure – failure is just life trying to move us in another direction.” For Oprah, getting fired as an evening co-anchor for a Baltimore news station led her to her life’s calling as a morning talk show host. Steve Jobs, Walt Disney, and Dr. Suess have similar false-start stories that changed the course of their lives and elevated them to new heights.
The silver lining is not always obvious in the days or months after a blunder. However, if we pay attention, we can sometimes see the universe’s hand in directing us where we need to go.
8. Continue to take risks.
If you’ve ever been in a major car accident, you know how difficult it is to trust the road again. However, getting behind the wheel once more is the only way to move past the trauma.
After a mistake, it’s tempting to play it safe, to not put yourself out there again. But that only keeps you stuck in regret. To move forward is to continue to take risks. Tugend told me in an interview, “We need to constantly remind ourselves that every time we take a risk, move out of our comfort zone and try something new, we’re opening ourselves up to potentially making more mistakes. The greater the risks and challenges we take on, the greater the likelihood that we’ll mess up somewhere along the way — but also the greater the likelihood that we’ll discover something new and get the deep satisfaction that comes from accomplishment.”
Forgive yourself for lessons not learned. Trust your instincts. Find the silver lining. Learn from your mistakes. And most importantly, don’t ever stop being bold.
Last medically reviewed on January 31, 2019
As much as we’d like to think we are in control of our lives, there are actually a lot of things we have absolutely no control over. And as much as we worry ourselves about those specific things, nothing we can do will change it so essentially we are causing ourselves anxiety and stress for no reason. It’s all about accepting the changes that be. By learning to let these things go you will find a world of a difference in your aura and overall attitude towards life.
And it all starts with the beauty of acceptance and how to use it in specific scenarios.
You can plan as many alternative routes before you leave your house but sometimes we just can’t avoid traffic as much as we want to. The second you see red lights of vehicles slowing down the stress flies out of your body and you get that sudden anger and feeling of regret and frustration. You cannot change any of it so you have to sit there and accept it. You’ll get to where you want to go eventually, and people will understand because it happens to everyone at least once a week if not more. Don’t panic because of the time crunch you’re under, just remember people will understand.
In life everything can change at the drop of a dime; change is inevitable. It’s beautiful that nothing stays the same in life, even when the changes can be really hard on you physically and emotionally. Sadly, we cannot control the changes that occur daily, whether it’s if the sun rises through the clouds or if we can get to work on time. What we can control is how we accept the changes and learn to cope with them and move forward. It’s all about the new perspectives on how to go about the changes that occur.
As I mentioned earlier, it’s all about learning to accept the things we cannot control, and when the weather doesn’t cooperate with your vision of the day it is one of the most frustrating and upsetting feelings. When it rains on the day of your pool party or the snow prevents people from going out, don’t let it linger in your system. It’s out of your control and now you have to focus on rescheduling or making the best of the situation. Always look on the bright side when things are dull and gloomy. Just because the weather is in a torrential downpour doesn’t mean your emotions have to be too.
Life is not a movie where we can go back and say the things we didn’t get a chance to say or change the way things were done. Whatever went on then is out of your control now. So now you just have to live with what it was and move on from it in whatever way is suitable to your situation. It’ll hurt at times, but there’s nothing you can do to really change it. Whether you dwell on the embarrassing stories or leave the uncomfortable confrontations to boil, as long as you figure out a way to use these memories productively, do what you can to get over it as best you can.
As much as you’d like to, you cannot take charge of someone else’s thoughts and feelings. You can’t try to change someone’s opinion with your own because you think it’s what’s right for them . You tried convincing them for hours and they aren’t moving from their stance so move on and get over it. Anything they think or feel is out of your control. And if they are telling you a lot of their problems and you feel it suffocating you, you also have to let it go because it doesn’t really affect you and it’s causing issues in your mind for no reason. You have to accept they feel this way, try and talk them through it and move on with your life.
At the end of the day the only thing you have control of is yourself. You take care of yourself, you make your own decisions, use your attitude and react in the way you think fits accordingly. Otherwise, you can’t control anything else. So you have to accept it, let it sink in for a while if you must, and move on in order to get over it. There’s no sense in letting things fester and ruin your day, especially if you can’t control. I’m not saying not to care, because sometimes they affect us in a huge way and it’s not natural too, just learn how to think on the bright side and come up with a plan B to get you over the situation effectively.
As an adult I’d rather get a cavity filled than go to Chuck E. Cheese’s, but as a kid I enjoyed running around the ball pit, eating ridiculous amounts of pizza and celebrating birthdays with friends. Sure, I could have done without the singing stuffed animals, but the unlimited pizza, cake and soda made up for it.
I remember walking to the soda machine to refill my cup during a friend’s party while we waited for her mom to cut the cake. A few of the girls in our group followed me, ready to give their bloodstream another hit of sugar, too.
“Let’s make suicide sodas!” someone suggested.
“What are you talking about?” I asked, looking back at her like she was crazy.
“You know, when you fill your cup with a little bit of each of the drinks in the machine,” she explained.
All peer pressure aside, the idea of suicide soda intrigued me, so I decided to give it try. From my first sip I knew suicide soda was going to be the drink of choice for the rest of our elementary school parties. After all, why have one soda when you can have them all? Excess is best, right?
For much of my life, I filled my cup with as much as it could possibly hold. Like the little girl standing in line at Chuck E. Cheese’s, I craved control over the things that made up my life’s unique flavor. I held my cup tightly to make sure that whatever I wanted got in and whatever I didn’t want stayed out. And I said yes to whatever came my way because if I said yes, that meant more control over something.
But things have a way of catching up to us, and after trying to add and control so many things, my cup became so full that it slipped right out of my hands. Suddenly I lost control. All I could do was watch as the soda spilled all over me, drenching me in an unrecognizable, foul tang.
Everything was out of my hands.
After years of filling my cup with more, more, more and trying to control the matters of my life, I had to learn how to stop and let go.
Soda is addicting. Science has proven this. The sugar, the caffeine buzz, the carbonation – it tastes and feels so good. Who wouldn’t love it? The problem with addictions, however, is that if left unchecked, they can eventually kill you.
While I’ve never been addicted to soda, I used to be addicted to control. The satisfaction of having a say over how something turned out was sweeter to me than a Coca Cola sugar buzz. Or at least, that was until God stepped in.
By His grace, God showed me that if I wanted to find true satisfaction I had to let go of my cup – let the sticky soda fall on the floor – so that I could be refilled with something better. His Holy Living Water (John 4:14).
I’m convinced that learning to let go and let God have His way in our lives is the best thing we can do for ourselves.
If we believe, as it says in Colossians 1:17, that God “is before all things, and in Him all things hold together,” then we can trust and know thatHe’s got everything under control. We don’t have to hold our cups tightly and fill them with a toxic sludge that’s fueled by our own fears or desires. Instead, we can hand our cup over to the one who formed us and can fill us with His tender love, grace and mercy.
Let go and let God. He knows what’s best (Jeremiah 29:11). Here’s five ways to surrender control today and practice letting go and letting God:
1. Stop Striving & Start Abiding
I saw a Christian Instagram account the other day and the description read, “striving to be a Godly woman.” No disrespect or judgment here, but didn’t Jesus come so that we could stop striving? Psalm 46:8 says, “Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth” (NASB). The first step in learning to let go of control is to stop striving. We don’t have to strive to make our life turn out a certain way; we just have to abide in Him (John 15).
2. Confess and Surrender Your Need for Control
If you’re like me and you crave control, the remedy for change is prayer. Go to God and be honest — tell Him how you feel. Say, “God I confess I like being in control. It makes me feel safe and secure. It makes me feel like I have a purpose. But I know that being a control freak isn’t going to get me anywhere. Help me surrender control to you each and every day. Help me trust in you deeply, so that I will not fear surrendering that control. Help me remember that you hold it all.”
If you’re having trouble surrendering through prayer alone, try taking out a piece of paper and write down the things you are holding so tightly to. One by one, lay the pieces of paper on the floor and as you’re doing so, imagine yourself literally laying them down at the feet of the Father.
3. Be Still and Know
In Exodus 14, we see the best Egyptian fighters try to capture the Israelites (this is the scene before the parting of the Red Sea). Instead of trying to control every little detail of their escape plan, in verses 13-14 Moses tells the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm … the LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still” (NIV). And you know what God did? He rescued them! He was in control the whole time, even when the enemy was on its way, ready to take the Israelites down. He can do the same for us when we trust and rest in Him.
4. Trust, Trust, Trust
Trusting in God is a lifelong process. Like many aspects o the Christian faith, it’s a choice that we make every day. We have to learn to let go of trying to figure out the “whys” of life and trust that God understands more than we ever could. Here’s what has helped me trust God when my flesh would rather trust myself: making a list of all the things God has carried me through, listening to Lauren Daigle’s song “Trust In You” on repeat, reading the Word.
5. Seek God
God holds the world in His hands — but we’ll never fully grasp the power and extent of those hands if we’re not tuned in to and focused on Him. When we surrender control, wait and trust in God’s plan, we can know that he will be faithful to lead us where He wants us to go. Jeremiah 29:13 says “You will find Me when you search for Me with all your heart” (NASB). Seek God and he will direct your steps.