Hey there! My name is Simona and I am a control freak. Every time I have even the slightest hesitation about the outcome of something, I start to imagine the worst-case scenarios. And, just like any good control freak would do, I come up with the best excuses to keep everything under my control to prevent these scenarios from happening.
Sure, it may be common sense that some circumstances you just can’t control. How can you prevent an outcome if it depends on external circumstances or people? However, if you’re even a little bit like me, you’re probably spending way too much time and energy stressing about things that aren’t really within your reach.
Although I still struggle with managing my control freak tendencies, I’ve found some things that help me let go of my anxiety and enjoy all the good stuff life has to offer.
Here are 4 steps to let go of control (or at least learn how to deal with it in a healthier way):
1. Figure out What Control Means to You
All control freaks have one thing in common: we want to micromanage everything and feel safe when we think that we’re on top of the situation. But we all differ as well: for some people, having control is important because it gives them a perceived sense of security; for others, control is a way to exercise power over other people; and then there are those who want to control others because they fear that, if they don’t, they will get betrayed in one way or another.
Whatever the reason for your controlling behavior, you need to address it and confront the hard truth. Ask yourself the following introspective questions:
* What do I fear will happen if I lose control over this person/situation?
* What does control mean to me?
* Was there a situation in my past where I felt completely helpless and I promised to myself that I would never feel like that again?
* What does control give me?
* What does it take away from me?
When you answer these questions, you will have a clearer picture of what your relationship with control actually is. Chances are you’re going to find out that it’s a toxic one.
2. Write down the Worst Case Scenarios
There’s an exercise that I learned from Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living. Whenever you start worrying about something (which is essentially where control comes from; your fear of the unknown) ask yourself one simple question:
What is the worst thing that could happen?
Now, start writing down all the things that could possibly go wrong if the situation that you’re trying to control slips through your fingers. Try to make them at least 5 because the first ones will probably not be the true, deep answers that you’re looking for.
After you lay them all down on paper, look at each and every one of them. Try to see from an observer’s perspective how likely are they to happen. What you’ll see is not only that the possible consequences are not that life-threatening, but also that you don’t have control over them anyway. So, why waste so much energy thinking about them?
3. Make a List of the Things You Can Do
Taking action will make you feel powerful again and it will help you manage the stress levels that you’ve built up in your body from trying to control everything. Instead of worrying about what’s going to happen, come up with a list of things that you can influence through action. Believe me, you will feel better about the whole situation and you will focus on solving the problems that will actually get you to where you want to go.
For example, if you’re trying to control the reaction that you’re going to get from your boss or your partner after a tough conversation, focus on the things that you can control: the way you state your argument, the things that you’re going to say, and become as detached to the final outcome as possible.
4. Let Go of the Final Outcome
Easier said than done! For a control freak, letting go of the final outcome can seem impossible, at least at first. The good news is, you can detach yourself from the situation. The bad news is, you’ll have to raise your consciousness and become as mindful as possible.
How? By noticing the situation for what it is, without trying to change it. In the previous example, we were talking about trying to control an imagined or expected negative reaction of someone who matters to you. If you want to be mindful in this type of situation, what you need to do is watch out for three things: your point of view, the other person’s point of view, and the middle ground.
If you zoom out and look at the bigger picture: you want something, the other side also wants something, so in the end you’re left with making the decision to either try to control the outcome, or ground yourself in reality and make the best possible offer that would seem irresistible to the other side of the table.
When you stop thinking about yourself, the way you can or should act, you’ll become more empathetic towards the other person and more grounded in reality. By being mindful of the situation and tuning into your body instead of trying to control everything that happens, you will find that the outcome will not only be better than you’ve expected, but you will actually gain more control by surrendering control in the first place.
At the end of the day, control is a shining armor that we put on ourselves because it protects us from getting hurt, feeling betrayed, or not getting what we want. But that armor can become extremely heavy, especially if you make yourself wear it 24/7. If we want to live life at the fullest and experience true joy, we need to learn to let go—and simply let life happen to us.
You’re not a victim of your circumstances if you lose control. But there’s a good chance that you will become a victim of your own negative thought patterns if you don’t.
And let me remind you of my favorite saying:
Life is not meant to be understood. It’s meant to be lived. Click To Tweet
So, go out there and make the most of it.