It was a busy month and I found myself stretched further than the healthy pace I usually enjoy! More and more responsibilities piled on top of me until I reached a point where I had no choice but to surrender! I let go of the little stuff, but it still wasn’t enough! So I let go of even more. Then I let go of more – a few major commitments that I never imagined I could let go of and still be okay! And guess what? I was okay! And I could breathe again! And the sky didn’t fall! Why do we put so much pressure on ourselves? Why do we think that what we’re doing is THAT important? Why do we make all those tasks more important than honoring and loving ourselves in mind, body, and spirit?
Do you ever put more pressure on yourself than necessary? Do you get caught up in internal or external dramas that are unnecessary? Do you try to hold onto control even if it kills you?
Recently, at a 12-step Parent Meeting, we addressed the topic of control. If you want to see a control freak in action, watch a mother whose child is an addict! We are intense! So, during this meeting, we talked about our need to control everything and how that creates enormous stress and drama in our lives. The reason I am sharing this topic with you is because I believe that we ALL have a need to be in control! We ALL want to make things better, easier, efficient, productive, harmonious, peaceful, smooth sailing, right? So I’m curious… what are your thoughts about this? Do you think women are more likely to be control-freaks than men? I do. But maybe that’s because I’m a woman who really likes control!
I remember practicing the art of “Letting Go and Letting God” years ago. I could do it, but only to a certain extent. I’d compare my ‘letting go’ to letting God take the wheel, but sitting in the passenger seat with car-controls like in the Driver’s Ed vehicles. I could still slam on the brakes or steer the car in a new direction just in case God didn’t know what to do! Have you ever done that? I didn’t think so… I’m the only real control freak out there, right?
This isn’t a decision we can make and instantly, Boom! We’ve let go of our control issues. There’s just too much at stake for that to happen! Think about it. What would happen if you let go of everything? For me, it felt like my entire life would fall into a million pieces. Nothing would get done. Nothing would be okay. The house would fall apart or at least fall into a giant mess. People would be disappointed or mad at me. Kids would get into trouble. Money wouldn’t be handled. Kids wouldn’t get into or go to college. Cars would not be maintained. Pets would be neglected and get worms or fleas or something bad. Business would stall out. We would have no food to eat. Relationships would suffer. Wow… when I played out the scenario of what would happen if I gave up control over everyone and everything… I predicted that within two months (if not sooner) I would be homeless, alone and broken. Talk about putting pressure on myself!
But what if that wasn’t what would happen? What if there was a different scenario that I never considered? That question prompted my journey to discover a beautiful, peaceful and healthy place… it’s called surrender. It’s a place we all strive to be! Our soul yearns for it. Our hearts seek it. It isn’t giving up… it’s letting go.
During our Parent meeting, the question wasn’t really about giving up control or learning how to ‘Let Go and Let God.’ It was about what happens once you do. What do you do to deal with the ‘void’ that follows when we let go? I challenge you at some point today, close your eyes and imagine what it would be like if you didn’t have to do anything for anyone. Take away all the responsibilities and things you’re in charge of and tasks not yet completed… lift them out of your mind. When you do this, you will feel a very LARGE space open up, and it is free of all that mind-clutter and fear. If you didn’t have to think about groceries, or dinner… if you didn’t have to think about anything to do with work… if you didn’t have to think about the needs of others in your family or otherwise… if you didn’t have to think about deadlines or projects or being there for others… if everything that mattered to you was fully and completely taken care of and there was nothing at all for you to do, or think about doing, what would that be like?
To be honest, I had never felt that feeling before, at least not that I could remember. First, it was hard to even imagine it at all. But when I did, it felt like I was floating on a gentle stream, without a care in the world. And there was a lot of big open space around me! I was at peace. And I knew in that moment that I wanted to create that feeling in my real life. When I asked what surrender felt like for others, they said it was literally just empty space there. And some people shared that it actually made them uncomfortable. They felt like a deer in the headlights… unable to know what to do because there’s nothing to do in this void except Simply Be. And for them, that was more challenging that trying to control the world!
And for the sake of covering all the theories, what if everything I imagined would happen if I let go, actually did happen? What if our kids dropped out of school, got into trouble, got mad at me or rejected me? What if our business imploded, finances became a mess, the dog needed a $1500.00 dental appointment, cars quit running, and relationships were strained? What if all of that happened? Would I not be able to handle it? Was I not capable of walking in faith and believing I would get through those trials? Ultimately, that is the question to answer.
So this week, I am going to challenge you to focus on letting go of something you really can’t control. If you can’t think of something, start with someone! Uh huh… gotcha! Look at how you ‘control’ them. Do you do things for them? Do you ask them nicely but communicate an unspoken, “…or else?” Do you tell them what to do or how to think or when to be where because without you, they may not be able to do it? (FYI… I’m not talking about small children who obviously need our guidance!) Find something or someone that you are controlling and try letting go… for real! Notice what shows up for you when you let go. What fear is present if you let go and quit controlling it all for them? Sometimes, it’s easy to let go. It’s not so easy to deal with the aftermath! What are you afraid will happen to you or those you care about?
Here are three rather deep insights I can offer regarding giving up control:
- It doesn’t feel very good!
It makes us feel extremely vulnerable when we don’t have control. That’s why we avoid letting go. That’s why surrendering is such a struggle for us as human beings. Fear stops us from living with peace and harmony and JOY… fear wins until we learn to let go of control. And when fear wins, we are robbed of so much of what is our inheritance as human beings! You may be able to squeeze some joy out of the things you accomplish or the things you are in control over, maybe a lot of joy! But that is the human version of joy… and I’m talking about the real deal… the real, pure, infinite freedom of living everyday with JOY! The human joy comes and goes with our circumstances. But what if those circumstances become painful or challenging… is your joy gone? I find joy when I get up everyday to my favorite coffee. But if I wake up to find out we ran out of coffee, I don’t experience JOY at all! Oh no… not at all! I could break out in all kinds of drama without my morning coffee! But in surrendering, there is always JOY, even when our circumstances change… and that permanence feels very good! And having 80% of the drama removed from my life, feels like bliss!
- Who will pick up the pieces when it falls apart?
I can remember getting stuck in this one. I’d tell myself that, yes, I could let go… but when all those plates I was spinning came crashing down around me, who would sweep up the broken parts? Who would be there to help me clean up the mess? It would be me who would have to put it all back together again. It seemed easier to just hold it all together in the first place. That logic was a tough one for me. Even writing it makes my ego nod in agreement. Actually… it’s because it’s true. Things will fall apart. And you will have to put yourself back together again. What I didn’t realize was that in doing so, we become more beautiful! It’s what makes us real and authentic! And our soul gets to shine through the little cracked parts that haven’t fully mended… and we have more compassion for others and ourselves. No one wants to walk through the hot coals, but everyone wants what is on the other side.
- If I’m not ‘helping’ everyone, what value am I to my family and community?
This one seems to be prominent. If we are not doing something, how are we to see our value? More importantly, how will others see our value? And if we don’t have value, then who would love us? What if we are not our diplomas, jobs, titles, roles, awards, accomplishments, grades, relational status, and all the other things we use to define who we are? If we weren’t all those things, that would mean we’re also not our failures, shortcomings, guilt, resentment, addictions, negative thoughts, self-doubt, self-sabotage or judgments. So… the question on the table becomes: “Who are we and what is our value if we stripped away everything we use to identify ourselves?”
Too often, we are left feeling just like the ‘void.’ Void of meaning, definition, shape or size. Without it, it seems like we would cease to exist. But it is in that void that our true essence, our true nature, our authentic Being lives! And only then are we face to face with our authenticity. When who we become is born from our essence, rather than our fears, we let go of control and learn to live in surrender.
Have a beautiful week!