In the past, I struggled with wanting to control everything in my life. Several years ago, a friend shared how "attempting to control a situation limits the outcome." I had never looked at it like that. In that moment I realized how I'd been limiting myself by trying to get the outcome I desired. How many opportunities did I miss out on with that self limiting belief?
Letting go can be frustrating and scary, but it can also be one of the most powerful tools for growth if we allow it.
I am intentional about letting go, because if I'm not things can get out of hand quickly. I take stock of my life every quarter - my obligations and commitments, my habits and my relationships. And I ask myself - am I creating the reality I want based on what I've allowed in my life? Letting go of what's holding me back is not always easy, but once I get past the pain and discomfort, I find the possibilities really are endless.
At several of our retreats we offer a "Letting Go Ceremony" the opportunity for guests to burn a piece of paper where they've written the thing or things they want to leave behind. The ceremony is powerful - tears, laughter and the relief that comes from releasing something that no longer serves.
Let go of what you can't control - which is just about EVERYTHING besides your actions and thoughts (with practice).
Acknowledge What You Can't Control
- What other people think of me - What is that saying? What people think of me is their business, not mine.
- Other people's thoughts and actions - While it may be tempting to want to control other people's actions (especially loved ones!) - it is impossible. I have lots of experience with this one - it never works - no matter how hard I try!
- What's happening around me - All that is going in the world, in our society - completely out of my control. All I can do is show up in my life - every day and with the people I love - and do my best.
- Outcome of my efforts - I've learned to let go of attachment to the outcome, but I still struggle with this one. When I do or say something in hopes of getting a particular response - I have to put it out there and refrain from hoping it will "go my way." Very challenging!
Let Go of What You Can Control
- Self-doubt. As women, we play many different roles in our lives: friend, employee, boss, mother, sister, partner; the list goes on. With all the hats we wear, it can be easy to doubt how we are “performing” in any given role. We might wonder if we’re good enough, or if we’re doing enough. The reality is we are doing the best we can—and that is always enough.
- Negative self-talk. Our thoughts have the power to create our reality. At one time or another, we may find ourselves in a cycle of negative self-talk, focusing on what we see as flaws or negatives about ourselves. Let go of fixation on the negative. Focus your attention and energy on what you love about yourself, and positivity will follow.
- Mistakes and past choices. Ruminating on mistakes we've made is dangerous. I've found when I focus on what I can do differently next time allows me to learn and grow versus beating myself up for doing the "wrong" thing.
- Attachment to the past and the future. A significant element of the practice of yoga is learning through breath, meditation and movement to be present. When we focus on events of the past—which are already done and gone—we prevent ourselves from moving forward into growth. On the other side of the coin, worrying about the future creates anxiety, which is essentially a fear of something that has only happened in our minds, but not in reality. Let go of what happened in the past and the need to control what happens in the future. You’ll find the freedom to be present, and to live and love the moment you are in.
- Commitments, habits and relationships. Ask yourself - "Is my life giving me the reality I want?" If the answer is no, take a good hard look at what fills the hours of your days. Who are you spending time with? Do they lift you up or drag you down? Are you losing hours of your life on social media - is that really how you want to spend your time? Do you say yes to everything - even if it drains your time and energy? Granted things like traffic and an overbearing boss may seem like impossible situations, but allow yourself to ponder changes that would eliminate the seemingly "hard wired" obstacles in your life.
Learning to let go of what you can control and making peace with what you can't control is life changing. Gripping too tightly will only hold you back. Let go and step into your new beginning.