Why You Need To Let Go Of Control Before It’s Too Late

You may not have noticed, but the Western world seems to be in the throes of a collective nervous breakdown.

Everywhere you turn, people are suffering from debilitating anxiety and depression, some to the point where they’re utterly paralyzed. This stops them from leading any semblance of a “normal” life.

One of the main contributing factors to a lot of that anxiety is that people, in general, want to know that they are safe and secure, and anything that threatens their comfort zone will throw them into a panic.

The problem here, of course, is that comfort zones are an illusion.

No plans will ever turn out the way we want them to, and trying to control various factors in order to maintain the feeling of being “safe” and happy will only lead to dismay.

If you’re someone who likes to be in control of every little detail in life, the following might help convince you to think again.

If You Want To Make The Gods Laugh, Tell Them Your Plans

Have you ever had a plan that worked out exactly as you imagined it? Or was there always some unforeseen circumstance that you had to deal with when it arose?

You might have some atrocious stories to tell about times you’ve travelled, whether it’s an airline losing your luggage, or getting violently ill from some dodgy shellfish.

Or perhaps a romantic moment was interrupted by a cockroach the size of a cocker spaniel leaping enthusiastically across the bedspread.

That said, those same trips were likely full of beautiful moments that filled you with joy and delight, right?

If you had known ahead of time about the crappy things that were going to happen, would you ever have travelled anywhere in the first place?

Clinging To The Illusion Of Control Can Make You Sick (And Wreck Your Relationships)

The desire to be in a safe, predictable world can make people behave in rather intense, erratic ways.

For some people, this may manifest in being really controlling over the other people in their lives so their words and actions never cause surprise or discomfort.

Conditions like obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) can arise when people feel like they don’t have as much control over their lives as they’d like.

So instead, they try to have absolute control over little things around them… like arranging their cooking spices alphabetically, or lining up pens and pencils in neat rows.

This may be soothing in the moment, but if you’re doing stuff like this and lashing out at your partner or children for disrupting the order, that’s causing a lot of damage.

Similarly, when people feel a lack of control in various areas of their lives, they may develop eating disorders. After all, if you can’t control anything else, you can control what you do (or don’t) eat, right?

When people cling to self-soothing – yet self-destructive – habits such as these in order to quell anxiety about change, they’re hurting themselves on so many levels.

Disorders like these wreak havoc on the body as well as the mind, and since there will always be disruptive influences, even the attempt to control little things can be undermined.

That in turn will cause anxiety to skyrocket which can make the person’s self-soothing rituals even more extreme.

Being stressed and anxious all the time damages countless parts of your body as well as your mind. The evidence for this is now overwhelming.

Trying to control the uncontrollable is also incredibly draining. Being on constant high alert to react to the unexpected zaps you of your energy and stops you enjoying the moment.

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Change And Pain Are Inevitable. Suffering Is Optional.

One of the main tenets of Buddhist philosophy is that the only constant in the universe is change.

Generally speaking, people don’t like change. They like warm, snuggly comfort zones where they’re in control, and protected… which is totally unlike the big, scary world, which likes to throw curveballs at us when we least expect it.

No matter how hard we try, we will never, EVER be able to control extenuating factors in our lives. Not other people’s behavior (because that’s being an emotionally abusive tyrant), not traffic, not the weather.

Everything changes on a constant basis, sometimes at the drop of a hat.

If you think that you’re only going to feel content with your life so long as you control all the variables, you’re headed for an extended stay in a squishy room while wearing an ensemble that has very long, wrap-able sleeves.

The Choice Is Yours

We all have a choice when it comes to how we process difficulty and discomfort in our lives, and the choices we make determine whether we can meet change and adversity with strength and grace, or fall apart.

And it is a choice.

EVERYTHING is a choice.

In fact, the choices you make in life are often as far as your control goes. Once a choice is made, other variables beyond your control start to influence your direction of travel.

You may choose to start trying for a baby with your partner, but you can’t precisely control when – or even if – you fall pregnant.

You may choose to write a novel, but you can’t control whether a publisher will like it or if it will become a bestseller.

You may choose to study ancient Greek history at university, but you can’t control when and where your dream job vacancy might open up or whether you’ll be the successful applicant when it does.

You can, however, choose to relinquish your need for complete control over life’s variables.

If you can begin to recognize when you do have some control and when you do not, you can avoid a great deal of frustration and anxiety.

Or as Steve Maraboli puts it:

Incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over instead of craving control over what you don’t.

And remember…

If you honestly feel that you’re not in control of your thoughts in this regard – especially if you feel trapped by them – then look into some kind of counseling to help you through it.

Therapists know all kinds of tips and techniques that can help you free yourself from the torment of your own mind.

About Author

Catherine Winter is a writer, art director, and herbalist-in-training based in Quebec's Outaouais region. She has been known to subsist on coffee and soup for days at a time, and when she isn't writing or tending her garden, she can be found wrestling with various knitting projects and befriending local wildlife.