Chaos and control are not your only options.
Recently I heard it stated that people fear “letting go” or “giving up control” because they think that the opposite of control is chaos.
Does that resonate with you? Do you tend to lean in, stomp on, or otherwise clench harder when things start to feel out of control?
I get it – control feels like a safety measure. It’s a coping and a defense mechanism.
We feel compelled to control our work, our partners, our children, our environment, and everything else. If it goes well – then you can reap the benefits of your hard work. If things don’t go as planned, it’s cause for a freak-out or shut-down or rage.
But what if we look at it another way?
What if the opposite of control is not chaos, but surrender?
Still freaking you out? Uh-huh. I see you.
Why is surrender so scary for us?
Let’s flesh out what surrender means, shall we?
Surrender is the act of releasing the responsibility for everything. It’s the practice of allowing. It’s creating space for forces bigger than you to have a say.
It’s giving your team breathing room to contribute their brilliance and creativity. It’s trusting that your boss may not actually be out to get you. It’s allowing for mistakes to be made, knowing that the greatest lessons are often learned from clean-ups. It’s knowing that “that’s how we’ve always done things” has rarely equated to growth and innovation.
It’s openness to your partner’s contributions. It’s inviting them to step up and parent in their own unique way. It’s creating balance in the way your child develops. It’s making space for you to not be “in charge” so you can connect to who you are outside of your partner and/or parent roles.
It’s allowing your children to play and make mistakes and call the shots, all in the name of learning that perfection is a farce and control is an illusion.
It’s a sustained practice of letting go of programmed beliefs that you were unknowingly granted as a child.
These beliefs that perfection is the standard and accidents are a failure are of no good to you, my friend.
It’s saying GTFO to thoughts that there is a “right” and a “wrong” outcome to any given situation. This is by far the most useless belief system and yet the most common amongst some of the high-achievers and perfectionists in the world.
It’s knowing that you are not the sole reason that anything happens – imagine the freedom in this alone.
It’s knowing that there are other options and outcomes than the one you are currently obsessing about.
The irony of all of this is that we want to control because we think we have more influence in things than we actually do, and yet, we don’t give ourselves enough credit for our inherent capacity to respond when things go differently than planned.
So we want control AND we don’t think we have what we need to deal with the outcome. Fascinating.
I can tell you right now that you have everything you need to give surrender a try AND to adjust where necessary down the road.
Surrender creates the possibility that there will be absolutely nothing wrong with the outcome.
Surrender shifts your attention from the negative and sheds light on all of the positive. Everything that is actually going right is all of a sudden so easy to see when you’re not constantly on the lookout for what could go wrong.
Watch yourself this week. Be mindful of all the ways you are shutting down the involvement of those around you. Take a breath and say to yourself, “I surrender to this situation working out.”
Have some fun! Play with saying “yes” where you would typically say “no”. Give yourself time to answer before committing to something you’re unsure of.
Tell yourself there is a wisdom to everything and everyone around you that is necessary in what is unfolding.
Listen to your self-talk and tell your ego to take a hike when you hear echoes of self-doubt or self-blame.
When you silence the inner critic, there is so much less to be critical of in your surroundings.
Take your need to control the world around you and look inward. Look for clues that your own insecurities are really just confusion about exactly how powerful you really are.
Remind yourself daily that real power comes from going with the flow.
Get yourself unstuck from right/wrong and good/bad thinking. Practice expecting excellence and ease regardless of how a situation shakes out.
Now, just think of all of the time and energy you will free up to savor what is happening around you. I explore the art of savoring life in my post, The Secret to Slowing Down Time.
If all of this still has your Type-A side twitching… you know where to find me.
All my Love,