Early on, we are told that we are in control of our life. We are in the driver’s seat. To be successful, we must make it so. And, if we fail to achieve, we are at fault. We messed up.

Because of this perspective, we feel it is of utmost importance that we control our environment (including others within it).  Control, we believe, is the key to getting what we want. This constant need to control however, is exhausting and harmful to ourselves and the people we love. It is time to let go of the need to control!

To begin, let’s clear up a serious misunderstanding.

Control is an illusion.

Please say this aloud. You already know it to be true. But you do not want to believe it. After all, if you are not in control, who is? And how do you get what you want?

Yes, OK. I see your point. One must be steering the car to get where one wants to go. But what if that is not true?

Argument One:

You are not currently steering your car. You just think you are. Your subconscious is actually making your decisions the majority of the time. It is letting you think you’re in control, but mostly you are not.

We have all had an urge to do something we could not ignore. Maybe it was eating, or drinking, or watching, or saying something. We did this thing even when our conscious mind did not want us to do it. We actually ask ourselves, “Why did I do that?”

Have you ever been ‘shocked’ by something so that it affected you physically? This is your body’s natural reaction to a subconscious crisis. Your subconscious had not factored in the possibility of the event occurring and therefore was simply not prepared with a response to send to the conscious mind. This resulted in an uncontrollable physical reaction. In extreme cases, the physical result of subconscious programming can be debilitating.

Your subconscious mind is like your software.  It is mostly there as a survival mechanism. There is no way you could survive the complex world of being human if you did not have software that did much of the work for you.

For example, walking is learned and stored as a program. So you do not have to think about walking like you did when you were a toddler. You just enter a situation where you wish to go from here to there and the walking program automatically runs. It stands to reason that we have other software that automatically runs based upon a situation.

For example, stress eating. If you are repeatedly fed when stressed and your stress is subsequently reduced, your subconscious will equate eating with stress reduction. So when you enter a stressful situation, that program runs automatically and tells you to eat. It is basing this advice on previous outcomes and thinks it is helping you. 

Like it or not, you have many such software programs installed right now. And those programs are in charge. So to think you are consciously in control of your life is misguided. Unless you are completely present and aware and in the present moment, there are subconscious programs automatically making decisions for you all the time.

Argument Two:

The second thing wrong with this assertion is that you cannot trust your subconscious mind to get you where you want to go. I disagree. For one thing, your subconscious mind is a great driver. It works tirelessly throughout your day doing things it is programmed to do. And never mind the metaphor, as it will even actually drive your car if your mind is elsewhere. (We’ve all experienced the eerie phenomenon of not recalling driving somewhere.)

And your subconscious mind works hard to protect you. To help you. It is 100% your devotee. However, if you never tell your devotee what you want, it just guesses. And often it guesses wrong. So if you wish to correct this, you must begin to pay attention to your programming. That is the only way you can override it and get it functioning properly without guesswork.

If the driver of your car is the best chauffeur ever and you know where you wish to go, the back seat is a glorious place to be. You can just enjoy the ride.

Argument Three:

You do not know where you want to go.

“If you don’t know where you want to go, then it doesn’t matter which path you take.” – The Cheshire Cat, Alice in Wonderland

I imagine some of you are crying “Balderdash!”.  But work with me here. Let’s play a little game called “What do I want?” Pick something you want. Now ask yourself why you want it. When you get the answer, ask “Now why do I want that?” I wager that in just a few questions, the answer will be “Because it makes me feel good”.  Sure. That is at the bottom of every desire. We want to feel good. To be happy.

So here is a radical idea. What if we start with feeling good. Now we’re already where we want to go. Before we ever begin our journey. After that, the reason to do something, anything becomes meaningless. We already feel good. So what does it matter what we do? What path we take?

I am not suggesting life is meaningless. Quite the opposite. When you are happy no matter what, life becomes what it was always meant to be: an adventure. A smorgasbord of sensations.

There is no longer a goal which must be attained at all costs. There is no longer a fear of failure. No more disappointment. Every experience is simply to be taken at face value. Instead of waking up in the morning thinking about what you need to do to handle this or manage that, you think “What adventure is in store for me this wonderful day? What will I experience? Ha!”

I ask you seriously, what is an adventure without peril? So let there be peril. Just don’t worry about it. And don’t hang onto it. Experience life and move on. Let go of the negative things and laugh. Laugh a lot. When you do, you will suddenly notice how many things are funny.

I imagine that you may be skeptical that this is even possible. But I assure you that it is. You can decide to be happy no matter what. Exchange control for acceptance. Acceptance is not defeat. Acceptance is an embrace. Dear Life, I love you. Surprise me.

Trust the Universe

Here are the basic steps to letting go of the need to control:

  1. Take a deep breath. You are not in control of your life. Stop trying to be. It doesn’t work. If you were really in control, wouldn’t things be different?
  2. Accept that you are not in control of your life now.
  3. Accept that what you really want is to be happy.
  4. Decide to be happy beginning now and accept what comes. Stop saying “This sucks.”  The more you say it, the more it will.
  5. Embrace things going wrong. They will. It is OK. They will also go right. The more you accept this, the more they will go right. The Universe appreciates and rewards your surrender.
  6. Leave other people alone. If you can’t control your own life, what makes you think you can control someone else’s? What makes you think you have a right to? Even your children need to find their own way. Let them explore and make mistakes. Give your family, friends and coworkers love, respect and space. They will surely appreciate it.

Be happy. You can control that. You have much reprogramming to do. But you can do it. Start slowly but believe in the magic of true acceptance. As you accept your day, you will begin to accept yourself and vice versa. Witness your own transformation from one who must control to one who is truly empowered.

You are amazing. Give yourself permission to be.