Control Is An Illusion That Keeps Us Miserable

Any other recovering control freaks out there? You wouldn’t know to look at me now. But I was all about my 5 year, 10 year plans, Pro Con Lists, obsessively planning everything, tracking every little detail, constantly striving or at least trying to predict specific outcomes.

Of course, feeling the need to be in control is natural. We all want to be able to control of our circumstances to feel safe. The problem is that in life, there’s actually very little that we’re in control of.

To begin with, you can’t control other people. You can’t control what they think, what they feel, what they believe or how they behave.

You can’t control the weather, traffic, the economy, natural disasters, the passing of time, the past, the future, aging, who you’re related to, or when you will die. You can’t control the nature of reality, change itself, and most of all no matter how hard you plan, you still do not have full control of the outcome of any scenario. There are just so many factors at play that you simply cannot control them all.

I’ve come to accept the idea that control in life is an illusion. Trying to control all the details of our life may be natural but it’s definitely not healthy. It underlies many addictive behaviors as well as living on autopilot. When things don’t go according to our plans, this illusion of control leads us to feeling more pain and disappointment. Even just the feeling of a need for control leads to feeling more dissatisfied. Spending the mental energy worrying about things outside of our control fuels a negative outlook and over time we grow progressively more critical and neurotic about our lives.

Once you accept how the need for control is the major source of your stress and worry, it’s no surprise that the most effective way to feel more peace and relaxation in life is to give up control. This is known as letting go or surrendering. We let go of the illusion of control.

These days, I practice not getting attached to specific outcomes because I know in my core, that however life unfolds I will be OK. And yes even when I’m in the midst of chaos, I choose to let go of the need to control it. I acknowledge, I feel and then I let go; trusting there’s an intelligence at work far beyond my understanding. I’m learning that this way of being, staying open to Life, is actually what prepares me for ANY outcome.

I’ve discovered that when I care for my energy this way, I gain the clarity and confidence to take empowered action in my life.

So what can you control? LOTS actually — the stuff that really matters. Generally speaking, it’s all about your mindset. And as a principle, the things you have control over in life are found within, not outside of you.

1) Being present
2) Your internal dialogue
3) Your reactions to what others say and do
4) Where you direct your energy and attention
5) Who you surround yourself with
6) Physical, mental and emotional self care
7) Practicing gratitude
8) Setting healthy boundaries
9) Speaking your truth
10) Self love and self compassion

Wisdom is knowing what we can control and what we cannot.

Fo more on this, listen to this week’s podcast: “Sailing Through Life – With Lorie Tesny, Courageous Cancer Warrior”

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