Are you one of those people who has the need to control (almost) everything in your life?
This can show up differently for different people. You may like to plan your days like clockwork, from morning to night. You may be intensely focused on your goals, constantly looking for ways to achieve more. Or you may find yourself rather strict about what you eat or how you spend your time. Or perhaps you like to keep tabs on what the people in your life are doing…
Take moment to think about it. Do you feel the need to control your life in some way?
Another way to ask this question is: Do you find it difficult to let go and allow life to unfold?
As someone who has learnt to release a lot of control and start to trust in the uncertainty and magic of life, I wanted to share some of my learnings with you.
Being in control can be fear in disguise.
Being in control can feel quite comforting, like a safety net. Because when you’re running the show, you have more control over the outcome and less can go wrong… Wouldn’t you agree?
And so it makes sense that the need to control is very often linked to fears we may have – The fear of the outcome is a good general example.
Great questions to ask yourself to build some awareness around this is:
If you were to let go and release control, what would happen?
If you didn’t control the situation, what would happen?
And then consider… if it didn’t work out exactly as planned, would it really be the end of the world? And is worrying and fretting over this thing really worth it?
I found it really useful to identify the areas of my life where I was being controlling. And then asking myself these questions to identify if this need to control was rooted in fear. And most of the time it was!
You can’t completely control the outcome.
While you can certainly add value to an outcome, you can’t completely control how things turn out.
That’s the magic of life… You don’t know what is around the corner. And even though you can plan and prepare, you don’t have a magic wand that can predict and control everything that happens.
If you find yourself getting into a controlling mindset, wanting to plan and prepare for everything, this is a really valuable concept to take in. Life is unpredictable. And while that may feel scary at first, over time you can start to embrace the beauty of it.
Controlling everything is tiring and unsustainable.
By planning out your days, what you do, and life in general, you can certainly steer yourself in a positive direction. And sure, it can feel comforting to know you’re organised and everything is under control and in the right place… every. single. aspect.
But over time, it can get tiring… it puts unnecessary stress on you – body and mind – and it can inevitably lead to burnout. Without even realising it, this need to control is adding a ton of pressure that is unsustainable.
Why is it unsustainable?
Because you literally can’t fully control what happens in life… so you will literally never truly feel like you’re in control… so this just makes it a never-ending battle…
You can certainly make life better and live with intension and purpose, but you can’t control the outcome… you don’t know what’s around the corner. And so a big part of this is learning to embrace uncertainty.
You don’t always know what’s best for yourself.
This was a big one for me…
I used to think I knew what was best for me. I always had a plan – planning my days, weeks, years. Over time though, it got exhausting always following life to my plan. And I found myself a bit closed off to the world because I was so focused on ‘my plan’ and what I thought was meant to happen.
When I started to let go more – allowing life to happen instead of always pushing things to happen – things started to change. Instead of sticking so rigidly to what I thought I needed, I opened up myself to everything around me to see what popped up. Over time, different opportunities outside of ‘my plan’ would show up, and over time I found myself on a really exciting path that was different to what I intended, but actually a lot better.
This was a valuable lesson because I realised that you don’t know what’s possible unless you open up completely.
Instead of limiting yourself to what you think you want, open up to all of life – what you know and what you don’t know – and that makes your world so much bigger and full of endless possibilities.
Other people have their own lives to lead and lessons to learn.
When you feel the need to control your own life, this often creeps into other people’s lives too.
And while you may have the best intentions, it’s useful to remember that each of us has our own life to lead and our own lessons to learn.
I remember being a bit controlling over my boyfriend, wanting him to be healthier or get up earlier or do things a certain way that I felt he’d benefit from. But I soon realised that you can share knowledge and inspiration, but you’ve also got to give people space to live their own lives.
It can be frustrating sometimes because you just want to help, but it can start to crowd people’s space and stunt their own personal growth. Instead, lead from the front – focus on being your best self, and if it’s meant to be, they’ll get inspired by you when the time is right.
How on earth can you learn to let go more?
If you’re controlling in some way, or if you’ve ever thought of yourself as a so-called ‘control freak’ at some point in your life, letting go can be tough…
Over the years I’ve shifted dramatically – from someone who tried to control A LOT, to letting go A LOT MORE.
And so, here are some of the mindset shifts and practical activities that have helped me transition into this much freer and more joyful way of living…
Embrace all of life – the good, the ‘bad’ and the unpredictable.
This was one of the biggest mindset shifts that helped me loosen my grip.
Life is full of joy, love and happiness. But it is also full of challenges and uncertainty. And in my personal experience, it’s the tough challenging times that have been my biggest times of growth. When things don’t go ‘as planned’ we find inner strength, we get creative and we grow in new ways and discover new parts of ourselves.
When you start to embrace all of life, the good and the so-called ‘bad’, you can start to loosen your grip.
You can stop worrying so much about planning everything, being perfect and having everything ‘under control’ and you can start to allow life to unfold instead of pushing your agenda on everything.
You give your best, but you become much less attached to the outcome. If it turns out ‘perfectly’ and ‘as you planned or hoped for’ then great. If it doesn’t, then it’s an opportunity to grow and learn something new.
Spend more time just ‘being’ instead of always ‘doing’.
This was one of the biggest lessons.
I spent most of my time planning my days and future. I was so focused on everything I needed to do to get better and be better. My head was stuck in the future.
I realised that it was because I didn’t feel good enough as I was right now. And that’s why I was always focused on doing and achieving more.
Practice being happy with this moment as you are right now. Let go of your todo list and everything you think you should be doing. Right now in this moment accept and love yourself. At this moment think of all you’re grateful for. Use your senses and soak it in – the warm sun on your face, the delicious meal you’re about to eat, having loved ones around you.
When you have a tendency to control life, it’s easy to get lost in the future and your todo list. Bringing yourself back into the moment and simple pleasures is an amazing way to add richness to your life.
Personally, I’ve found that mindfulness is what gives me that fulfilment I longed for. And I’m sure you’ll find the same.
Create more free space in your calendar.
When we create space – to relax, unwind, or to simply have no plan or do nothing – it can feel like you’re wasting time. That is a common feeling, especially for those who want to control their lives to ensure their success.
But for a moment consider… what is the meaning of a good life? What makes life great? Is it really all your successes and the things you tick off your todo list? Is it really about the QUANTITY of the things you do and achieve?
Or… is it the QUALITY of your life that matters? Slowing down, doing less, enjoying the moment, giving heart and soul to your days, enjoying quality time with people you love, enjoying your meal with all your senses, lying on the grass soaking up the warm sunshine…
This links well to the above point because, by creating more space in your life, you inevitably give yourself more time to ‘just be’.
Something that has really helped me is to start freeing up time in my calendar. It has been a slow process, but over time I’ve slowly created little pockets of time here and there to ‘just be’. Instead of putting appointments or work-sessions back to back, I’ve allowed a little space in between. Instead of eating quickly or on-the-go, I’ve allocated extra time to sit down and enjoy it. I’ve even started scheduling in ‘self-care’ blocks of time in my week to encourage me to do whatever feels good in that moment.
If you’re constantly on-the-go with a jampacked calendar that spits you out at the end of a week, I encourage you to start creating more space. Start slow with little free pockets of time here and there. As you go, you’ll start to feel the benefits as you create a healthier and more nourishing balance.
Throw your plans out of the window every now and again.
This continues on from the above point.
This can be part scary and part liberating. One day a week – week or weekend – let your day unfold naturally without an agenda.
Of course you probably have appointments and responsibilities, so see what works for you. You could find a quieter weekend day to do this, or simply try it for parts of a day. Have some fun having no plan. Practice having that ‘free space’ and seeing what comes up. Instead of following your todo list, think about what you feel like doing or what feels important and inspiring in the moment.
Too often we base our lives on a todo list, instead of going with the flow. We’ve be conditioned to think that going with the flow is not possible, and perhaps even a bit irresponsible right? At least for the controlling planners it can feel that way! 🙂
Personally, I think we’ve just become way too hard on ourselves and have lost touch with the true essence of life.
I usually have a lot going on, so I understand it’s difficult to just throw all your plans out the window. But I have practiced letting go of some of my goals and items on my todo list, so that I have a little more time here and there to go with the flow. And over time it’s becoming a new and far more nourishing way to live.
At the end of the day we all have time for this – regardless of whether you have a full time career or a family. There are always some items you can remove from your plate right now to give yourself more space. And that can even include your healthier activities, like not exercising as much or simplifying your cooking.
The question is, are you willing you let yourself off the hook a bit and embrace just being more?
Do your best and leave the rest to the universe.
A HUGE part of letting go of the need to control life, and learning to let go and allow life to unfold, has to do with TRUST.
Trusting that you are loved and supported and that the universe is good and has your back. Trusting that you are good enough and that if you show up as your best, you can trust yourself to succeed.
Trust is a massive factor.
When you can start to trust that if you show up as your best, and do your best, to the best fo your ability in that moment or situation, that things will work out… then you can really start to let go.
When you can learn to trust that the universe has a plan for you… and that it may be different (and better) to the one you have planned for yourself… then you can really start to let go of the need to control every aspect of your life, and instead focus more on simply enjoying it.
Notice your controlling mindset creep in and take a pause.
When you notice yourself getting into a controlling mindset, practice slowing down for a moment.
You may be getting worried because you’re not getting to everything on your todo list. Or you may be getting frustrated with yourself or others for not doing something a certain way.
When this happens, stop for a moment. Just taking a pause and standing still for a moment holds a lot of power. Take a couple of deep, long breaths. Even close your eyes.
Doing this pulls you out of the pattern, and brings you back into the present. And by just being still for a few seconds or a minute, you can often let that frantic moment pass and find more peace. From this place, consider (with compassion), if this is how you want to be… Do you want to be controlling and rigid? Or do you want to learn to let go a bit and let life unfold with more freedom and joy?
Let the people around you do their own thing.
In case you like to control everything in your life, including those close to you, practice letting them lead the way for a bit.
An example could apply to your partner or family at home. Perhaps you run the show at home and generally decide what everyone eats on a daily basis. Perhaps every now and again you could ask them what they feel like eating and let them follow their own inspiration. You can either join them or do your own thing.
Either way, this is about releasing your grip on other people’s lives and giving them the freedom back to let their own lives unfold.
When things don’t go as planned, focus on what you can learn.
If things don’t go as planned, instead of getting wound up, take a deep breath and try let it go.
Whether you don’t get the job or client you wanted, or you don’t manage to get to an exercise class. Or perhaps your husband forgets to do what he said he’d do, or your family or friends let you down.
Whatever happens, instead of fighting it, focus on what you can learn. Life is our greatest teacher. And in these moments when things don’t go as planned, we have the opportunity to grow in some way. When we fight it and get upset about it, we’re just wasting precious energy.
At the end of the day, you choose how you feel in every moment. And in these moments, you have an opportunity to choose to accept what happens, learn from it, and move forward with grace. And the latter feels a whole lot lighter.
Trust in yourself, in others, and in the universe.
I’ve mentioned this above but I just have to re-iterate this.
So much about this need to control our lives (and others’lives) is because we fear what may happen if we don’t do everything.
Even if this is a difficult thing to do, I really encourage you to trust in yourself and your abilities to get success in your life. Trust in the people in your life. And finally, trust in the universe.
The last one, about trusting in the universe, may seem far-fetched to some. But it is worth giving it a go. As Gabby Bernstein says, the Universe has your back. Regardless of how this works, I’ve personally started to see this in action in my own life, As I’ve built trust in myself and the universe, amazing things have started to happen.
All I focus on is showing up as my best self. I give my best and do my thing. But I don’t think or worry about what may happen. And over time, it literally all works out, for the best. To be more specific, I’ve had times this year where I’ve been in seriously scary situations, financially. Years ago I would’ve worried and stressed out. But this year I practiced just showing up every single day with positivity and giving my best. I didn’t push or fight, I just showed up with a smile and kept at it with grace. And over time, the most amazing opportunities have showed up in my time of need. It has made me feel so supported.
Regardless of your beliefs, I encourage you to consider that you are part of something bigger. Your life is part of something bigger. And it’s not all up to you. From this place, focus on simply showing up as your positive happy self, follow your inspiration, and take one small step at a time. Do it with a looser grip and trust that by showing up as yourself, you will follow a wonderful path in life and the right opportunities and people will come your way.
BONUS TIP: Practice Yin Yoga
When I started yoga over 10 years ago, my favourite style was Vinyasa. I loved moving from pose to pose relatively quickly. I pushed myself and liked to do yoga in a way that made me feel like I was ‘achieving’ something. Simple poses weren’t good enough, and the harder the pose, the better I felt about my practice and myself.
Over many years I explored many different styles of yoga. There was one style – Yin Yoga – that I was not interested in for a long time. This was because it was MUCH SLOWER. You do very few poses and you hold them for a lot longer. To me, it didn’t feel worth It. It felt like I’d be ‘wasting time’.
But eventually, as I progressed in my practice, I moved past this desire to do difficult poses and was searching for something else. Yoga became far more than exercise or pushing myself, it became a deeply personal practice of reconnecting with myself, lowering stress and anxiety, and finding a deep sense of peace and balance within myself.
Yin Yoga has since become one of my absolute favourite types of yoga. And if you’re a controlling type, I’d highly recommend giving it a try. It may be difficult at first, but stick with it. Even if you do one Yin Yoga class a week, just go with it.
Yin Yoga has a powerful way of teaching you to slow down and be present.
Instead of jumping around from one pose to another, you only do a handful of poses and you stay in them for much longer. You practice being there in that pose with your breath, and eventually relaxing into it. There are many physical benefits of this practice, but mentally it is powerful.
You can check out the Yoga with Kassandra YouTube Channel for many Yin Yoga classes.
Let it help you slow down sister 🙂
Are you ready to let go more and embrace the magic and mystery of life?
I hope that this post has inspired you to loosen your tight grip and embrace the magic and mystery of life more.
Set those meaningful goals and seek to live a life of purpose, but don’t forget to also enjoy the life you already have!
When you learn to let go more, you feel so much more relaxed and life becomes so much freer and more joyful!
After reading this article, what is ONE thing you can start doing to let go a bit more in your life?