That is one of the greatest struggles many of us deal with on a daily basis, myself included.
Because letting go of control goes directly against our modernized, industrialized way of living – we are go-getters, doers, architects of our destiny. We build things and make things happen on our own terms; we don’t wait for anything to happen on someone else’s terms! At least that’s what I learned growing up from teachers, sports coaches, movies, songs, magazine articles, and so forth. So allowing things to happen was not in my DNA. I had never been one to sit back and passively let go of control.
Over the years, however, my perspective has shifted. I’ve grown mentally stronger, even as I’ve learned the hard way that a great deal of the control we believe we have over our lives is an illusion. For example, I’ve since met…
- the young man who had his life turned upside down by cancer
- the young woman, and mother of two, who lost her husband to death at 27
- the hard-working employee who lost her job when her employer of 25 years filed for bankruptcy
- the runner who lost his leg in a hit an run car accident
- the mom whose son has Down syndrome despite her doing everything right during pregnancy
It happens every day—situations we think we have control over, but we really don’t.
So what can we do?
The only choice we have: Let go, and be mindful…
And although it sometimes takes a great deal of mental strength to do so, we CAN strengthen our minds gradually with practice…
In the game of life, we all receive a unique set of unexpected limitations and variables in the field of play. The question is: How will you respond to the hand you’ve been dealt? You can either focus on the lack thereof or empower yourself to play the game sensibly and resourcefully, making the very best of every outcome as it arises, even when it’s heartbreaking and hard to accept.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the mind is our biggest battleground. It’s the place where the strongest conflict resides. It’s where half of the things we thought were going to happen, never did happen. It’s where our expectations always get the best of us. It’s where we fall victim to our cravings to control the uncontrollable. And if we allow these thoughts and cravings to dwell in our minds, they will succeed in robbing us of peace, joy, and ultimately our lives. We will think ourselves into deep heartache and even depression.
Truthfully, there’s so much about life that we can’t control, it makes no sense to waste all our energy on these things and then blatantly neglect everything we CAN control.
We can choose how we spend our time right now. We can choose gratitude and grace. We can choose whom we socialize with—whom we share this day of our lives with. We can choose to love and appreciate the people in our lives for exactly who they are. We can choose to love and appreciate ourselves, too. We can choose how we’re going to respond to life’s surprises and disappointments when they arise, and whether we will see them as curses or opportunities for personal growth.
And, perhaps most importantly, we can choose to think better about our past and present circumstances, and let go of what we can’t control, so we can consciously make the best of the next chapter in our lives.