Wanting to control situations occurs when we are attached to a specific outcome – an outcome ego believes is best for us – because we fear what might happen if we don’t. When we try to control outcomes, we are at the same time resisting, fighting and blocking other possibilities.
When we are trying to control, our vision literally gets very narrow and focussed, our breath is shallow, and a boost in adrenalin increases our heart rate. A part of our mind takes over, panicly shifting from scenario to scenario; planning, plotting, “what if-ing?” and moving from past to future. If only we had the crystal ball!
When we use the ‘think we know what we want’ perspective this automatically eliminates all other options without us even having had a chance to consider alternatives. However, when we let go of controlling outcomes, results often end up better than we originally thought or had hoped for.
To move from controlling to letting go, we need to identify ego’s underlying fears around not having the situation turn out as it wishes. Question the validity of these fears. Will the vacation really ‘be ruined’ if we cannot book accommodations the first night? What might the alternative bring (e.g., a new hotel, an adventurous night in the airport, making connections with people)?
In surrendering, we completely accept what is and have faith that everything is or will be alright, no matter what circumstances come our way. We work from a place of acceptance, trust, hope, openness, and taking responsibility for what comes next. It means being vulnerable and feeling seemingly out of control.
Jung encouraged: “The art of letting things happen, action through non-action, letting go of oneself. … We must be able to let things happen in the psyche.” When we quiet the controlling and planning ego, the wisdom of our inner guidance – our true Self – is given an opportunity to emerge. I wonder what that may bring?
As Joseph Campbell stated, “We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the life that is waiting for us.”
Being receptive and allowing things to happen is a skill that can be practiced and improved upon. Start by identifying the fears (e.g., “What will the neighbours think?”) or the controlling thought/behaviour (e.g., “It’s always been this way,” or telling someone directions while driving) and let it go momentarily, even for a couple of minutes. How does this feel?
Although we may initially be uncomfortable, letting go of control brings calm and peace, relaxed and deep breathing, and being in the moment. Our vision expands and we see the bigger picture. In letting go of knowing the outcome and our fears around this, we introduce a sense of curiosity and excitement, often feeling a sense of relief and freedom as we now allow energy to move to more enriching places.