Joseph Campbell once stated “We must be willing to get rid of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us”. How many of us are living the life that we thought we would be living? How many of us are following the exact path we thought we would be traveling when we were just starting out on this journey called life? I am sure not many of us. I am sure many of us look at our lives and think “how did I get here?” or “this is not at all the life that I thought I would be living.”How did this happen? In the words of John Lennon, “Life is what happens when you are busy making plans.” Why is it that we think we have control over where life takes us? And why do some of us have a hard time just enjoying the journey? It comes down to control.
Control is a tricky thing. We want to control certain things in our lives and others, we prefer, either consciously or subconsciously, that we want others to control on our behalf. Control is what causes us to feel a sense of anxiety, and loss of control can cause us to feel a sense of depression. How can we find the balance between what we can control and what we cannot control in order to live a life that is free from anxiety and/or depression? And start living a life that we can sit back and enjoy?
It comes down to understanding that there is only one thing in life that you can control and that is YOU. Your actions, your behaviors, your attitude, your beliefs, your happiness, your focus, your energy, etc.; everything else is happening to you or around you. Once we acknowledge and accept this fact, the happier and less stressed we will become. We need to let go of the idea that life has to look and feel a certain way in order to be “perfect”. We need to let go of comparison between our lives and the lives of others. We need to let go of control and learn to acknowledge that life is happening around us and that we can only control how we participate, how we show up, and how we behave in the world. Once you realize that you control only you, you will learn to show up 100% in your life, give control to to things that matter, and let everything else just happen.
Letting go of the idea control is scary to most. Please notice how I said the “idea” of control. So many hold onto the idea that we are in control and it is the consistent slap in the face that we are not in control that causes so much angst and turmoil. It seems no matter how many times life shows us that we are not in control we continue to grip harder to the idea that we need to take control and that if we were in control, things would be different. We want to grip life as hard as we can, controlling every moment to insure it’s place in our ideal picture of perfection. But the more you grip, the more you struggle against what is going to happen anyway, and the more your happiness is slipping away. Learn to let go of the idea of control and in turn embrace the happiness that follows by controlling what you can truly control, YOU.
We have to let go of the idea that we can control everything in the world we live in, that we can control every thing that is happening in our world and specifically to us. We have to let go of the idea that life has a straight and narrow path that we can create and that if we follow it, we will be rewarded. Really what we have to let go of is the idea of what we have control of and over. Once you let go of the false idea that we can control everything, we will begin to see what we can truly control, and that is ourselves and our actions.
Now this does not mean giving up. It does not mean saying “screw it I can’t control it anyway.” What it does mean is, if you don’t like what is happening, what can YOU do about changing the situation? What can YOU do to contribute? How can YOU make things better?
Learning to let go of the idea of control is hard but worth the challenge. Let go of forcing life to fit into your plans and learn to embrace the life that is happening. Learn to open yourself up to the possibility of what can be. Learn to see how much impact you really do have on the world when you realize that you control the most powerful thing in the world, You!