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How to let go of the need to control

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Photo by Chris Leipelt on Unsplash

Do you have control issues? If you find it hard to relax and make room for surprises in your life, there are probably good reasons for that.

One of them is childhood trauma. If you didn’t receive the love and security you needed growing up, you might control your circumstances as a way to feel safe.

If you were given too much responsibility as a child, you fear things will fall apart if you release yourself from the burden of micro-managing your life. You’re not used to receiving or expecting support to relieve the strain.

If you were given too much responsibility as a child, you fear things will fall apart if you release yourself from the burden of micro-managing your life. Click To Tweet

Another reason for control issues: you have a more organized and serious nature. These are excellent qualities but when they get out of balance can reduce your quality of life.

I’m an Enneagram 1 who keeps a tight budget and plans her calendar to the hour a week in advance. Lately, though, I’ve examined this need for control and how it hampers my equal need for fun and relaxation.

As I learn to invite in more of what I want, I realize how a rigid monthly budget has the potential to block me from attracting surprise income. And an uncompromising weekly schedule leaves little room for fun and spontaneity.

So, if you’re like me, how do you let go of the need to control things so tightly? Here are 4 ways.

1. Start small.

Instead of going cold turkey and eliminating your budget, can you create one that’s less “on the nose”? For example, I’d been in the habit of tracking each and every transaction as soon as I made it, right down to a $2 coffee or $1 iTunes purchase.

This sounds more like the actions of someone with a major spending problem who’s trying to get back on track. Since I’m already over responsible, letting myself off the hook will free up space for more lightness.

2. Face your fears around control.

Notice what comes up when you go easier on yourself. Do you fear you’ll wind up on the street if you let go of the strict budget? Or you’ll get nothing done without hourly time-blocking a week in advance?

Get curious about your fears and where they come from. Question whether it’s really true that you’ll be in the poorhouse or create nothing of value without your control measures.

Question whether it's really true that you'll be in the poorhouse or create nothing of value without your control measures. Click To Tweet

3. Learn to trust yourself.

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Part of why I’ve kept to a rigid budget and schedule is that I haven’t trusted myself to spend wisely or get things done without them.

As I learn to trust my intuition, letting go gives me the opportunity to act from a state of flow. To do the next thing that feels right rather than having everything scheduled out ahead of time.

In Inspired Marketing Joe Vitale writes that his most profitable ideas have come when he’s listened to his subconscious mind. That part of ourselves is hard to access when we’re blindly following a tight schedule.

4. Temper control with a sense of play.

Most of us control freaks have atrophied our fun and playful sides with too much self-discipline. We want to relax and enjoy spontaneity but something in us won’t allow it.

It feels dangerous to let things unfold or change plans on a whim. But we need balance to lead full and satisfying lives.

Try a vacation without an itinerary. Stepping outside the hotel and going wherever the wind takes you can reap amazing rewards. Or pick a day and do whatever your heart desires from moment to moment.

Imagine the magic that will unfold when you let your intuition run the show instead of your stifling need for certainty. What an amazing possibility for self-connection.

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