When something feels out of your control, it usually is.
The problem is not the thing that’s out of your control. The problem is that you are trying to hold on to it and control it, when you really can’t.
Suffering arises from trying to control the uncontrollable.
Imagine trying to control a wild horse. Trying to ride it, you are in a very dangerous position. But letting go of the horse, you can be safe and secure 10 feet away.
You can’t control the horse. You can only control your position in relation to the horse. Peace in this scenario comes when you stop trying to think you can or should be able to control that horse, and let it go.
The number of things we can’t control is astronomical.
Well, literally, we cannot control the movement of the stars. We also cannot control other people, what they think of us, whether they like us or not (for real, or on Facebook). We can’t control what they choose to do or feel or want. We can’t control whether they stay or leave.
We can’t control whether they do their work or hurt themselves. We can’t control whether they are happy.
We can’t control our clients. We can’t control whether they like what we do for them, whether they use it or find it useful, whether they recommend us to others or not.
We can control our own thoughts, judgments, perceptions, assumptions, and actions.
We can’t control whether people buy from us. We can control whether we offer them something to buy, and we can make it good. But their buying choice is out of our control.
We cannot control our feelings. These arise as signals of whether our needs are met or not. We can’t control that they arise, but we can control what we do next. We can accept, allow, and listen to them. Or we can suppress them, fight them, or judge them.
Making peace with the world requires that we accept that we are powerful in a very narrow domain.
The good news is that spiritually, this feels better. We are all wanting to feel like a tiny cog in the big wheel of life. We all want to feel part of something bigger. We’re built that way. The ego wants to be in control of everything, but the soul does not.
The key is to accept it. You really are part of something bigger. And you have no control over it. You only have control over yourself. And then, only partly.
The more we focus on what we can control, and let go of the rest, the more power we have.
The other good news is that by giving up the habit of trying to control the uncontrollable, we can focus all our considerable energy on those areas we can control.
In life, we can become peaceful in our own selves. We can stop fighting a war with ourselves. That, we can control.
We can ask for help. We can accept others. This, we can also control.
In business, we can open to our creativity and our potential. We can find the thing we love, and give ourselves to it.
We can transform ourselves.
This is no small feat, and it’s something we actually can do. We can start focusing on what we want, and on what we are grateful for. We can change our perceptions to notice the truth and the reality of things, instead of our judgments and assumptions. We can shift our energetic pattern to allowing instead of aversion or grasping. These are all things we can do.
As you focus on what you can control, you feel more grounded.
When you are trying to hold on to that wild horse, your feet can’t touch the ground. It feels viscerally unstable.
We all have a wild horse. We all have something in our lives that we are trying to control and we really can’t.
For me it’s my own emotional volatility, and whether people like me or not.
When I try to control my emotions, I make them much worse because I don’t meet my needs for allowing and acceptance.
When I try to control whether people like me or not, I’m paralyzed and I completely shut down creatively. When I let go of that, I can focus on being a channel for creativity to come through me. Who cares if people like it? I want to be helpful, and the best way I know how is to turn my creativity over to the Divine and let the words come through. When I focus on just that part of the transaction, and on sharing it without expectation, it all works. I write, and people do like it. But the minute I start getting invested in that, I get into trouble. Equally, I can’t control inspiration (although I can encourage it by practicing letting go, and engaging with life).
As you learn to recognize what grounded feels like, it is easier to return to it.
Now that I’m practicing this more, I am starting to viscerally know the place of groundedness and peace. This helps me identify when I am off, notice what I am trying to control, and consciously let go.
It feels a little more vulnerable to be in the world without pretending to myself that I have control over things that I don’t. But it’s the good, real, honest kind of vulnerability, not that anxious, confused, out-of-control kind of feeling.
And when I falter in my discernment and fall back into old patterns, I try to remind myself: I can’t control how fast I grow. I can only do the best I can each day to let go and refocus.
I find it helpful to repeat to myself, “I can’t control ______” and “I can transform myself” to re-orient to what I can control.
What helps you focus on what is in your domain?
What does it feel like to be ungrounded vs grounded?
Or, feel free to just say hello!
Related Community Links
Not Buying the Right Car Led to Buying the Right Car A great (and practical!) story of letting go. “It is only when we accept that we are not in control that we can lean into our intuition. When we come to realize that steering ourselves means constantly checking in with something much greater than ourselves – that is when we get the clearest guidance.”