I’m going to start this post by saying that as a recovering control freak, this is going to be a very personal post. As much as I believe that being organised and having schedules and plans is essential to living an efficient life, I also believe that we can take this too far and not let any spontaneity happen in our life.
What’s worse, I think it’s also dangerous to be a controlling person, because when life happens (and it will happen) we are completely overwhelmed and don’t know how to cope.
Over the past few years, I really had to learn to let go of control, and I hope that what I’m going to share today will also be helpful for you.
What it means to let go of control
Before I go on to explain what it means to let go of control, let me share what usually, being a control freak looks like.
It looks like planning every minute of every day to the highest detail, forgetting that life will usually throw something unexpected at us.
It means being very strict with ourselves and those closest to us because everyone has to respect the schedule, but that often takes the joy out of doing things.
Being a control freak also means that when things don’t go our way we become extremely overwhelmed and unable to cope with the changes, making it much harder to move forward.
So what does it mean to let go of control?
It means accepting that even though we make our plans and schedules, things may not go our way and we need to take that into account and be okay with it.
Why is it hard to let go of control
Letting go of control is HARD. As humans, we are almost programmed to be that way because we like to know what’s going to happen and when, we want to change the future outcome of a situation, we want to know every detail of every event.
I guess it gives us some sort of comfort and reassurance so that we don’t have to be adaptable and get out of our comfort zone because let’s be real, who likes to be uncomfortable? Not me, but I learned the hard way that that’s the only way we’ll move forward in life, so I may as well get on board with it.
Now that I’ve given you a brief introduction, I’m going to share with you 10 tips that have helped me to let go of control over the past few years.
10 ways to let go of control
- Have faith
This is probably the thing that helped me the most. I’m a believer and I know that I didn’t just happen to be on earth, I know there is a perfect plan and a purpose over my life, and that I’m not alone in this journey.
Whenever I start feeling overwhelmed because I don’t know what’s going to happen in the future, or because things aren’t going the way I thought they would, I remind myself that God is in control and I’m going to be okay.
This isn’t some preachy message that I want to share with you, it’s just my advice and the number 1 thing I started doing to really let go of control.
Bear in mind that I haven’t always been this way; even though I’ve been a believer for 5 years now, it was only very recently that I learned that in order to let go of control, I need to have faith.
And the evidence of my faith will be the fact that I’m not worried about tomorrow and I can stop being a control freak.
I normally meditate using Bible verses and thinking of specific passages that will help me to let go of my control issues.
Sometimes though I just sit in silence, with nothing in my mind, just to remind myself that letting go of control is a good thing, and that all I need to focus on is to be present right there in the moment.
Every time I meditate, my stress levels really go down, so this is a practice that I implemented some time back and I try to do it every evening before bed.
- Use affirmations
Another helpful way to let go of control is to use affirmations. You can Google them if you’d like and find something that inspires you.
Using phrases like I am not alone, I am safe, I am looked after, I receive the provision I need… These are all things that help me to stay grounded and trust that no matter what happens, I’m going to be okay.
You can say your affirmations first thing in the morning before you start your day, and remind yourself of them over and over as you go about your daily responsibilities.
- Be present in the moment
Being present is such an incredible thing to do in order to let go of control. I think all the years I spent looking after children have definitely helped me in this area.
Sometimes I’d be so worried about the unknown and focused on my super strict plans, but then I’d see how careless children are and how they still have everything they need, without needing to worry about it.
Learning from children, or even elderly people will help you to focus on what’s in front of you and take life one step at a time, instead of trying to reach the whole staircase at once.
- Be grateful
Practising gratitude is another great way to let go of control and remember how blessed we are.
I think sometimes we can get caught up in only looking at the things that are not working in our life or all the goals and plans we have, but it would be useful to just stop for a moment and think of how much we have and all the things we’ve already achieved.
You could write a daily list of things or a weekly one, but you should consider making this a regular habit to truly reap the benefits of it and let go of control.
- Accept that you’re not in control
As obvious as this sounds, you’ll be shocked to know how many people don’t think this is true.
If you are trying to let go of control, one of the first things you should do is accept that you were never in control in the first place.
I know society makes it seem like you have the power to change everything in your life and to a certain extent, I agree. As in, I believe that our hard work, determination, and discipline are key factors in determining the future we will have.
But sometimes things happen that nobody could have prepared for. Nobody prepared for a pandemic to happen, nobody knows when they’re about to have a life-altering accident that will forever change things. Nobody knows when they’re about to lose a loved one and how their life will be shaken.
So yes, whilst we have the ability to impact a lot of our life, we don’t have full control over it, so the earlier we accept this, the easier it will be to get on with what we can control, and live a more peaceful life.
- Be adaptable
On a very practical level, the best thing you can do is learn to be adaptable.
You made plans and they changed at the last minute for reasons nobody could have planned for? No problem, you will find a way to create a new plan or adapt your day to the circumstances.
There was a season where I had a very strict morning routine that had to be done in a specific order or I felt completely all over the place. But then I realised that wasn’t healthy at all and that something needed to change.
So I decided to create a morning routine that would bring structure to my days, but then didn’t need to be as strict so if something happened or I was in a different place in the world, or my timings were slightly different, I could still make the most of it.
Read this in-depth post to learn how you can plan for the unexpected.
- Spend time in nature
Nature has a very calming and therapeutic touch, that is able to let you decompress and stop feeling overwhelmed.
I always try to go out at least once a day, especially on days when I feel busy and stressed by all my commitments and when things aren’t going my way.
After even just a short walk at the park near my house, I’m able to face things with a different attitude and have a clear perspective on how to move forward in a certain situation.
- Hold your plans with an open hand
Another important key in letting go of control is to hold your plans with an open hand. As I said at the beginning of the post, there’s nothing wrong with planning and being organised, I mean, that’s what my entire blog is about, right?
However, the secret in having successful plans is accepting that whilst we can try and have a structure to the best of our ability, we also need to acknowledge that things may not go our way for whatever reason, and we need to be okay with that.
For example, a while ago I was applying for jobs and of course, getting many rejection messages. My plan was to get a job in a particular field even though I knew it was going to be harder because of my experience, but I liked that career and I wanted to go for it.
However, things changed when I got offered a different kind of job. It wasn’t what I was applying for and at first, I didn’t think I was going to consider it, but then actually I allowed myself to have an open mind about it and now that is my full-time job and I’m loving it!
- Talk to someone
Something else that can be very helpful in letting go of control is talking to someone you trust.
If you’re a type-A like me or a bit of a control freak, it might be hard to express how you’re feeling inside, because from the outside it might just look like you’re manipulative and obsessed about controlling everything.
However, if there is someone you trust in your life, you can talk openly to them and also allow them to keep you accountable when it comes to letting go of control.
My partner is great at that because he is the complete opposite of me when it comes to this, so whenever I go into panic mode and I want to control everything, he gently reminds me to breathe and not stress about my circumstances.
10 powerful ways to let go of control and live a peaceful life – Conclusion
I hope that by being very honest about my personal story I was able to help you and give you some practical tips. I can totally relate to the feeling of wanting/needing to have everything under control, but it has to be done in a healthy way.
Feel free to take some (or all) of these tips and gradually implement them in your life so that you’ll finally be able to let go of control once and for all!