How to let go of the things you cannot control

How do you let go of the things you cannot control but so desperately want to? this might be the biggest struggle in living.

When working with clients, or even working on ourselves (yes even therapists need help), releasing ourselves from trying to control everything is a recurring theme.

Life is full of surprises. We can hope and pray and wish and manifest and send all the good vibes out there but ultimately, we do not have control over what will happen in the next day, month or 5 years down the road. This COULD depress you. This COULD spiral your anxious thoughts. This COULD make you want to numb the fear of the unknown with food, alcohol, obsessive exercise, drugs, gambling, online shopping, Netflixing.

But here’s the thing. There’s a ton of freedom to be found in knowing you don’t have control over the outcomes. And you do have control over SO MUCH THAT MATTERS.

Like what? You have control over your choices. Each choice is empowerment.

You can choose to eat healthy.

You can choose that Lacroix over wine.

You can choose to actually show up to that yoga class.

You can choose to pause before reacting to your toddler/boss/mom/spouse/person on the road/Comcast tech.

You can choose how you respond to unpleasant things like poor weather, getting sick, losing a job, injury, even disaster and trauma.

When we want to control the outcomes, we create our suffering. We create our suffering because we’re trying to grasp so tightly to anything that makes us feel in control. So we overthink. We plan. We ruminate and obsess. We then feel totally stuck and depressed because there is no easy answer. We create this downward spiral because there is no solution. So obviously we end up sad, overwhelmed and in a heap of emotions.

Okay cool. So what do we do?

  1. We give ourselves a reality check and really understand the things we can and can not control.
    1. Things we can control: our thoughts, behaviors, choices, reactions.
    2. Things we cannot control: other people, the future, the past, weather, traffic, war.
  2. We focus our attention on those things we can control and take control over our choices. We commit to ourselves. We show up for ourselves. We prove to ourselves that we are not victims of circumstance by continuing to put one foot in front of the other.
  3. When bad stuff happens, we release our need to figure it out why. We say, “okay, this sucks and it is what it is. Instead of resisting what is happening and trying to control the outcome, I’ll focus on what I control within this crappy situation”. So we focus on the little things- the little moments of joy, redirecting our thoughts at what is good right now (if you try hard enough you can always find something), you focus on breathing and moving and connection with others, you focus on making smart and healthy decisions in this moment.
  4. Maybe you take it further and start to get curious and find meaning in the unpleasant stuff. Maybe seeing if there’s a lesson there, anything you can gain and grow from. Even the worst of things can have a silver lining if we look for it. Because if we can’t find the good within the bad, we get stuck in our suffering. Over and over again being a victim and feeling powerless in this life.

So. You choose. You do have the power.

Kerry is the founder of reset brain + body, located in Plymouth, where traditional therapy is elevated through the integration of psychology, yoga and mindfulness. After nearly a decade in corporate human resources in Chicago, Kerry left the field to better help her busy and stressed peers handle life inside and outside of the workplace. Kerry can be found teaching meditation and yoga classes and seeing clients for psychotherapy and yoga therapy at reset brain + bodyWhen she's not at reset brain + body, Kerry can be found spending time exploring her new hometown of Plymouth with her husband, baby boy and dog. Connect with reset brain + body on Instagram & Facebook, check out the class schedule, or contact us to book an appointment