I’ve been letting go of controlling every little thing in my life to allow space for new opportunities and possibilities to flood in. This slackening of the reins is part of a personal journey toward self improvement and fulfilment. Why did I feel I needed to let go you might ask? Well, it might help to give you an idea of what control looked like in my life – before.
Control used to look like having very strict structures and routines around everything – around what day and time the shopping would be done, the route I would take around the supermarket, the order cans would be stacked in the pantry, the order washing would be hung on the line – my clothes here, others there, black items all together, coloured clothes hung together then the whites. There were very particular ways items had to be folded before being put in wardrobes, drawers and the linen press.
Control was also about expectations – about expecting everyone else to behave in certain ways, to abide by my stringent rules, beliefs and timelines. Needless to say I was bitterly disappointed on numerous occasions when these unspoken rules were not upheld or followed by others.
Control was about avoiding certain situations and events if I didn’t know exactly who and what to expect before I arrived. It was about not trying new things for fear of failure. Control was about doing everything myself, believing only I could do it the ‘right’ way.
Control, basically, was about never having fun for fear of dropping my guard.
This pervasive need to control my life developed out of fear. Fear of being oppressed, of being dominated, of being controlled by someone else. It was also a result of not trusting in others. For years this behaviour was my approach to life until, one day, I just got tired of fighting, of constantly being on alert and of swimming upstream that I started to let go.
Now, I will admit I still like a smidgen of order and structure but I’m not as mad crazy about making sure every little tiny thing is in place, done ‘on time’ and done by me – the right way. Now, the grocery shopping gets done when I have time. I can actually follow different paths around the supermarket and I now visit other supermarkets and explore the products on the shelves rather than racing around for my predefined products. I can actually leave the house work and not stress that the floor needs a mop or the blinds need cleaning. If something unexpected comes up I’m not floored or put out as I once was.
I thought I was doing a pretty good job of the whole letting go and surrendering thing until last week, while having a Thai massage, I painfully realised I was still holding on like crazy in some areas of my life.
We humans are so very good at fooling ourselves into believing what we want to believe. Here I was, letting go, I was planning less, predicting less and generally being less of a control freak and I realised, while on the massage table, I was still holding on. The analogy between the massage and my life is a classic. Half way through the treatment I realised I wasn’t actually relaxing or enjoying the massage. While the therapist was working on my upper body, I was tensing my lower body, when she moved to massage my lower body I held tension in my upper body. I realised there was no benefit to be had if I didn’t let go, if I didn’t stop trying to hold on, if I didn’t surrender to the moment and enjoy the experience and the outcomes.
There I was, at my most vulnerable, having an epiphany. The metaphor was not lost on me. For the remainder of my massage I consciously practiced letting go. I identified the areas of my body I was controlling, holding tight. I breathed into those areas, breathed to relax and breathed to allow the muscles to soften. I had a few short moments of total surrender; a few short moments of joy; a few short moments of peace before I noticed the control coming back. Again, I’d relax, surrender, let go and again I’d experience being totally present. I realised I’d just learnt a valuable life lesson. That treatment allowed me to reflect on my life and how I was going in terms of my goal to loosen the reins. I walked out of that massage realising that change happens in stages, that sometimes we fool ourselves into thinking we are doing a better job than we really are.
All is not lost, however. I realise now I simply have a little further to go and a little more letting go to do. There is still much to celebrate. As a result of my efforts so far, life is more joyful and more peaceful. By ‘allowing’ rather than controlling I have more energy; I notice more synchronicity creeping in. I now view the world as a friendly place as opposed to the hostile place I once felt it to be. I am on the road to self fulfilment and I’m encouraged to keep going.
I’d be keen to hear about unusual situations in which you’ve had a light bulb moment. Where has life has shown you a truth?