Letting Go of Control
Giving up control can often feel like the hardest thing to do. Letting go of control is one of the most freeing decisions you can ever make. It can open up room for true happiness and peace. The need for control is ultimately rooted in fear of the unknown and "what ifs". This is something that I struggle with at times, but there are certain things I do in order to get myself out of the rut.
1. Embrace Trust
When we worry about a situation, we are losing our trust in God and forgetting that He will always work things out in our favor. In Romans 8:28 it says, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him". Isn't it relieving that no matter what happens, everything is working for our good? Don't forget that we have a very faithful and intentional God who is in control. I would much rather have an all-knowing God be in control rather than me, especially since as humans our knowledge is limited and we look at what is happening right now rather than the bigger picture. Remember who is really in control, and trust in His plan for you.
2. Facing the "What-Ifs"
In one of my favorite books, Crash the Chatterbox by Steven Furtick, he talks about a strategy in battling these "what-ifs" that can instill so much fear in us. I've personally used this strategy and it has definitely helped me break the cycle of my "what ifs" spiral. The three phrases are:
For example, let's say I have the thought, "What if I don't get into the Master's program I want to get into? That would really suck and I would be devastated BUT God will never close one door without opening a greater one. When you remember God's will for your life and what He can do with the worst of circumstances, it can bring your "what-ifs" to a standstill. I'd recommend trying this at least once to see if it works for you, but make sure you write them out. I feel that it's more powerful that way.
3. Practicing Mindfulness
Mindfulness helps us put some space between ourselves and our reactions. It helps us become more aware of the present moment without any judgment that it is "good" or "bad". When you practice mindfulness, you become more aware of your thoughts when they arise. This can prevent us from being caught up and carried away in the story of our thoughts. You can practice mindfulness in forms of meditation, but you can also just set aside some time to sit in silence and practice it as well. Here are some basic components of a mindfulness practice that you can do anywhere:
(I've noticed the best results with this when my eyes are closed and my feet are touching the floor, but feel free to do whatever works for you!)
1. Set aside some time. You don't need anything special for this, just set aside some time and space.
2. Observe the present moment as it is. The goal of mindfulness is not to completely quiet the mind. The goal is simple: we’re aiming to pay attention to the present moment, without judgment. .
3. Let your judgments roll by. If you notice a judgment of the present moment arise, just simply take note of it and let it pass.
4. Return to observing the present moment as it is. Our minds often get carried away in our thoughts. Mindfulness is the practice of returning, again and again, to the present moment.
5. It is normal to have a wandering mind. Our brains are made to wander, it's called our default mode network. When our mind is at rest, the brain is still highly active. Our minds have a negativity bias and can tend to look for problems, so don't get upset or frustrated when thoughts pop up. Just practice recognizing when your mind is wandering, and gently bring it back to the present moment.
Once you practice this more in your everyday life, you will be able to recognize when your mind is wandering and you aren't fully present. Sometimes I'll notice this when I'm driving or in the middle of a conversation and I'll gently bring my mind back. Mindfulness isn't something you have to practice sitting alone in a room, but it can start there.
I hope this blog post helps you let go of control not only in difficult situations, but in your everyday life. If you have anything that works for you that I did not include in this blog post, please let me know!