Letting Go of Control for Emotional Wellness
Summer is a perfect time to practice chilling out. The world collectively shares this mindset as we see people all around us slowing down, putting their feet up and taking plenty of rest. Even social constructs tend to be more lax, such as the amount of clothing appropriate to wear in public. But by practicing ‘chilling out’ I’m not referring to sipping a cold one by the pool and turning off the phone… I’m interested in a mindset that can be accessed all year round: letting go.
In advice columns and therapeutic models, the message ‘let go’ is very ubiquitous. Let go of expectations, let go of an old object, let go of something that is no longer working, such a relationship, a well-intentioned plan, an outdated system. It seems quite simple, yet there sure is a whole lot of hanging on that goes on out there.
One area of letting go that proves to challenge the entire ‘operating system’ of many successful humans is the need to feel in control. In control of self, of others, of one’s life, one’s ability to predict and have complete control of the world around oneself. Do you know anyone who falls prey to this mind-set? In its extreme form, it can become rigid, inflexible and fear-based. When you have your entire world raveled around an intricate series of well-developed, predictable systems, this can be very efficient, yet also disastrous for mental health; if you don’t have a healthy dose of adaptability built into that system. We simply cannot predict or control the future, no matter how hard we work at lining up our ‘ducks’, projecting, planning and forecasting. These practices, while an invaluable part of life-management, cannot be the sole foundation that our sense of security rests upon.
Here are three simple ways in which you can start thinking about loosening a control grip that may be taxing your nerves and preventing you from being fully present to calm joy that exists in the moment:
-Surrender. Let go, even a little bit. Simply put up your feet and surrender to the things that you can’t control. A good way to start this is by allowing yourself a 20% ‘budget’ of not having it all under control. 20% of being comfortable with saying “I don’t know”, and “I’m not sure”.
-Respect others. Respect that the people in your life have changing needs, moods and circumstances, and that it is unrealistic for you to place too much reliance on others for your own world to run smoothly
-Practice trust. Trust in your ability to handle whatever comes your way, as well as trust that solutions always present themselves. You may not always have a ’emergency preparedness plan or kit”, but your internal resources are alive and well within you. The world is filled with stories of how individuals step up to the plate in face of disaster or adversity. These people didn’t necessarily have a plan.
Just as you strip off the binding layers of clothing when the weather becomes hot, a sense of freedom can increase for you as you remove the binds of needing to feel that everything is 100% under control. It’s okay to chill out and loosen the reigns a bit. In fact, it’s much healthier.