Let Go of Control and Enjoy Life

Feeling the need to be in control is natural. It’s something we all want, and we feel best when we know exactly what is going on in all areas of our lives. It’s important to realize, we can never control everything. Trying to do that leads to many different negative emotions when things don’t go exactly the way we try to force them. There are many ways to increase our happiness, but one of the most simple and tangible ones is by letting go of control.


Why Do We Feel the Need to Control?

The desire to be able to control our surroundings and circumstances is ingrained in us. This is because the more we know about our world, the safer we feel, the less we know, the more scared we may be. The need to control is directly rooted in fear—specifically, the fear of what might happen outside our control.


Increased Stress And Anxiety

People who try to control everything may experience more stress and anxiety. The simple act of feeling out of control when it feels necessary to have it can make a person’s blood pressure rise.


Less Satisfaction

Feeling the need to be in control and not having it can make us feel dissatisfied. One study found that “subjects scoring high on a measure of general desire for control reported higher levels of discomfort and perceived the room as more crowded than did subjects scoring low on the desire for control at both levels of density.”

The very act of feeling a need for control led to a less pleasant situation for people for whom that was a priority versus those for which it wasn’t. The need for control can impact our lives, it should be no surprise that there is much to be gained from giving it up. Giving up the need for control is often referred to as surrendering.


How to Let Go Of Control

Suppose you’ve decided you’d rather be at peace and well connected to others, rather than stressed and critical. In that case, you’re probably interested in learning about how exactly you can go about giving up the need for control. The below tips will help you get started on this relaxing path, but there are many other ways you can accomplish it, too.

Anything you can do that helps you feel more OK with not being in control is excellent. It can be large or small, practiced often or only in moments of need. We encourage you to try one of the following to guide you on this new journey.


Discern What You Can and Can’t Control

There’s no way to give up control until you know where in life it’s needed. Take stock of what you have going on. Think through the areas of life that are in your control and those that aren’t.

Once you’ve established which fall into each category, commit to treating the situations where you don’t or won’t have control differently than you have been. This includes disconnecting yourself from outcomes and treating other people differently when they don’t behave exactly as you want.

It may be helpful to think through the situations you can’t control to feel less anxiety about the different possible outcomes. Do your best to feel settled with each one as you think of it, knowing it is outside your control, you’re safe, and you’ll be OK however things work out.


Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness is all about being present. Being in the moment and appreciating everything good as it happens can help you accomplish the feeling of surrender. It enables you to regulate your emotions, which is especially helpful if you struggle with feeling the need for control. It also reduces stress, which increases with the need for control.


If someone in your life already has given up control and experienced the peace that comes with it, lean on them for support. Ask for tips, share about your experience, and learn from what they’ve accomplished.