“The only reason you suffer is because you choose to suffer. If you look at your life you will find many excuses to suffer, but a good reason to suffer you will not find. Happiness is a choice, and so is suffering.” – Don Miguel Ruiz
Letting go of the need to control can help you open your arms to receive other good things. Being in control can be seen as a good thing, especially when we think of the opposite, which is being out of control. But clenching your fists too tightly around your need to control things can leave you stressed out.
We all know a Type A personality, control freak, or someone who is constantly rushing around seeming busy. These high-stress people have two things in common:
1) They want things to be a certain way
2) They get frustrated easily when things do not go their way
In this article we will look at the ways in which letting go of control can help you gain a sense of calm and acceptance that you didn’t know was possible.
5 Things You Gain When You Let Go of Control
The need to control our environment is a human trait. Ever since we have arrived on this planet we have had a desire to make our living arrangements more suitable to our preferences.
This constant need to change what is already there, to perfect what is already good-enough, and to set our expectations higher and higher leads to a state of disappointment with the present moment.
Those who feel the need to control things feel unhappy about the current state of their world. They seek to move things into a more pleasing configuration (rearranging furniture, modifying a recipe, setting strict standards of cleanliness, etc.)
1. When you let go of the need to control, you gain peace
Mindfulness starts with focusing on the present moment. People who need to be in control are always focusing on the future. They spend time planning for tomorrow instead of living today.
2. When you let go of the need to control, you gain self-control
Learning to be aware of your impulse to control is the first step toward releasing the need to always be in control. The second step is resisting the urge to act.
The ability to resist our impulses is a psychological skill that you can use to see positive changes in your life. Just like you resist the urge to eat a donut when you are feeling stressed, you should try to resist the impulse to act to control other people’s behavior and your environment. Replace this behavior with deep breathing, meditation or by taking a walk.
3. When you let go of the need to control, you gain patience
People who need to be in control have very little patience. They are insistent upon their needs being met urgently. They force themselves on other people and demand that their request is more important than someone else’s. These controlling personalities are the ones who push to the front of the line, who bark orders at others to get things done, and who yell at service representatives over the phone.
Living at a lower stress level allows you to accept that things will be done in their own time. To everything there is a time and season. Slow down to the pace of nature and let go of the need to control the process of reaching your goal. Take one step toward your goal now and let everything else unfold as it should.
4. When you let go of the need to control, you gain acceptance
Things are as they are, and in spite of your efforts to control them, you have very little control over a great deal in your life. Weather, traffic, other people’s actions, and the stock market are things that you will never be able to control.
Realizing that you lack control over huge areas of your life no matter how much you try to control other areas, should be eye-opening to you. All we truly have control over is our own responses, thoughts, emotions, and actions.
Acceptance of your powerlessness over other things is like releasing a huge burden off of your shoulder. You don’t have to try to control things, because in the end, you can’t control things, you can only influence them…
5. When you let go of the need to control, you gain your health
A study published in the British Journal of Medical Psychology, researchers followed subjects over a 10-year period to study the relationship between personality styles and death. It was found that personality variables were much more predictive of death from cancer or cardiovascular disease than was smoking, and that different personality types were susceptible to either of these two diseases. Personality type was defined in terms of differential ways of dealing with interpersonal stress, and it was found that stress was a very potent cause of death.
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Can you guess which personality type was more likely to die from cardiovascular disease or cancer? If your guess was that the people who were a more controlling, Type-A personality were more likely to die, you would be correct. That is why letting go of control could help you gain your health, and longevity.