We all want to control certain parts of our lives. We want good things to happen- we hope to feel satisfied in our choices and connected in our relationships. Subsequently, we naturally value happiness, and we try to take conscious steps to achieve it in our everyday routines.
But control, in many ways, is just an advanced illusion. We don't dictate what happens in the future, and even the best efforts to make good decisions don't always pan out accordingly.
While this reality may seem disheartening (and even scary), there are numerous benefits associated with surrendering to the ambiguity of life. Here's how letting go of control can give you more freedom than you ever imagined.
When you can truly embrace each day without holding onto rigid expectations, you harness a new way of living. You minimize disappointment and regret. You become more curious about what could happen rather than attached to what should happen.
'Shoulds' tend to be detrimental when it comes to your mental health. When you think you "should" do something or something "should" happen, you might be holding onto judgmental or narrow-minded expectations. Likewise, "shoulds" tend to make people more critical of themselves.
The reality is that you won't always like what happens in life. That is the essence of being a human.
The world is inherently flawed, and we will go through our days sometimes feeling upset, hurt, or afraid. These feelings don't mean we have failed (or that our lives are bad). They simply mean that we have emotional reactions to our environment.
But when you let go of control, you make room for more acceptance. Acceptance means you can tolerate the circumstances without trying to change or fix them. You can simply be with what it is, and that's one of the highest forms of peace you can achieve.
More Living in the Present
Think about what happens when you're desperately trying to control something. If you're like most people, you're distracted and anxious. You're trying to brainstorm all possible scenarios and account for how you will manage them. It goes without saying that this mental process is often exhausting.
But when you let go of some of this control- when you surrender the notion that you need to shape your own destiny- things no longer feel as stressful. Instead, you can be with your current emotions and needs. You can attune to what you want right now.
Paradoxically, by living in the present, you may actually make better decisions. That's because you aren't operating from such a desperate place of fear. Instead, you're working from a neutral place of what's happening right now. In doing so, when evaluating your choices, you might find that it's easier to tune into yourself and figure out the next best step.
People who try to control every aspect of their lives tend to feel anxious and depressed. Furthermore, they may be overly critical and demeaning towards themselves.
But letting go of control can have the opposite effect. Once you no longer assume you're in charge of everything, you may find that it's easier to practice gratitude and self-compassion.
Self-compassion comes from a place of understanding that everyone inherently faces obstacles in this life. It's also rooted in themes of acceptance and forgiveness. Rather than berating yourself for your mistakes, you can learn to acknowledge them, reflect accordingly, and move on.
More Faith and Trust
People often find that letting go of control helps them feel more optimistic about their futures. That's because they aren't just relying on their own grit or strength to get things done. Many times, they turn to a higher power or another spiritual connection to feel connected.
In other cases, you simply become more trusting of the universe. You learn, over time, that things have a way of ultimately working out. Even if you don't love every outcome (and you won't!), you become more resilient to change. You realize that you can still make do with what you have.
In many ways, this is the cornerstone of healthy coping. Rather than assuming you need to fix or control every decision, you trust that you will have what it takes to manage whatever life throws at you.
Letting go of control requires daily effort and commitment. It isn't just something you do once. You have to consciously decide to surrender and adapt to your current circumstances.
But strengthening this habit- and cultivating this accepting mindset- can unlock new potential and happiness. It may also reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.
At The Mental Health House, we help people live more meaningful and fulfilling lives. We embrace a wholehearted approach in our care, and we believe you deserve support and compassion on your journey. Contact us today to learn more!