08Mar

Letting Go of the Things You Can’t Control

Let’s face it, if it were up to us, we would want to have as much control over a situation as we possibly can. This way, everything will always go as planned, we wouldn’t fear the unknown or the future as much, anxiety would pretty much not even exist, and we’d all live happily ever after…right? The reality of the matter is that we will never have control over absolutely everything but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

The concept of control is the root of many maladaptive behaviors, emotions, and thought processes. When we feel a lack of control anxiety spikes, fears intensify, panic presents itself, obsessive compulsions endure, relationships may cripple, performance may suffer, communication shuts down, isolation and seclusion may occur all to help reduce the uncomfortable feelings due to a need to be in control. What if we can learn to let go of that need…how would our lives be different?

Let’s start by taking a look at what we actually do and don’t have control over naturally. We will never have control over what happens to us but we have control over our reactions to what happens to us. There will always be a positive and negative perspective on any situation. A job loss can be seen as financial difficulty leading to depressive feelings or it can be seen as an opportunity to start over and work towards life goals leading to hopefulness and optimism. Your perspective is your reality and your perspective is one of the most important things you have control over and can utilize to your advantage. In addition to perspective, here are additional things we DO have control over:

• The choices you make
• The words you speak
• The boundaries you set
• The responses you give
• The thoughts you have
• The kind of attitude you have
• Your beliefs and opinions
• Your actions and what you do
• Who and when you ask for help
• How much effort you put into something
• Learning from your mistakes
• Your self-care
• The friends you have
• How you respond to challenges
• Saying you need a break
• How you communicate
• Stating your needs
• When and if you forgive others
• Whether or not you accept yourself
• The outlook you have…whether you look at the negatives or positives
• What you focus on in this very moment
• What goals you create for yourself
• Whether you help someone or not
• When you show empathy
• Your manners
• How you treat others
• How honest you are
• How you interpret situations
• How often you practice gratitude

There’s a lot more we have control over than you probably thought. However, we need to learn to let go of the things that we don’t have control in addition to focusing on the things we do have control. We can’t force others to change nor can we prevent bad things from happening. Here are additional things we DON’T have control over:

• What other people do
• What other people say
• What other people think
• How other people feel
• Other people’s opinions and beliefs
• Other’s mistakes
• Other people’s time
• Others forgiving you
• Others being honest
• Others apologizing to you
• Others’ reactions
• Who likes or dislikes you
• The past
• Traffic
• The weather
• Time
• Aging
• Bills
• Death
• Past mistakes
• Natural disasters
• The unknown
• The future

Choosing to let go of the things you can’t control is a choice you have control over. It’s easier said than done, as is any work we decide to do on ourselves to improve and grow. Ultimately, you can ask yourself, “How do my worries, doubts, fears, and concerns about the things we have no control over, really benefit me?” A quote by Randy Armstrong states, “Worrying does not take away tomorrow’s troubles. It takes away today’s peace.”

Building awareness is the first step to change, we can’t change anything we aren’t aware of. Therefore, if you would like to finally learn to let go of your need for control, start with identifying your fears. What is it really that you are afraid of and how does it benefit you? Once you build awareness around what you fear and what you feel the need to control, there are plenty of techniques and skills to practice letting go. You can practice mindfulness by living in the present moment, you can practice self-compassion by using positive self-affirmations to give yourself encouragement and reassurance, you can practice self-care by exercising the choices you make to enhance and strengthen overall wellness, you can practice imagery, meditation, and grounding, or you can always reach out for support and internalize the notion that you are not alone.

If you are finding yourself struggling with overwhelming anxiety, fear, obsessive-compulsive behaviors, or just with letting go of the need for control, please contact Life Enhancement Counseling Services today at 407-443-8862 to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced Orlando mental health counselors. You can regain control over your life by the steps you chose to take to move forward.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Barbara Vehabovic