The Dark Side of Control
CONTROL…a 7 letter word that seems rather harmless, right?
For most people, maintaining control of their lives enables them to stay on top of things, or to have the “discipline” to achieve their goals.
Yet, exerting too much control can actually have the opposite effect.
When you try to control every aspect of your life, it's not uncommon for things to turn out the way you want. Let's face it, you put in a ton of effort to ensure that outcome! But, unfortunately, that leads you to believe that control is a good thing (stick with me here!).
The reality is...control has a darker side.
When you are controlling every tiny aspect of your life, you stop yourself from stretching further than you can imagine. You end up living smaller than you’d like and you can’t even see that.
Having control over your life is considered to be a positive trait and something worth celebrating (some may even call it willpower in certain situations), yet, if you release some of that control, you can do even more with your life and turn up the dial on your living.
THE DARK SIDE OF CONTROL
If you're like most people, you probably want to control most facets of your life. By doing so, you likely feel that you have a better handle on things.
Being in control allows you to feel more comfortable with yourself because it allows you to influence the outcome. If you know the likely outcome, you minimize the "unknown," which reduces the fear.
The fear of the unknown manifests itself in several ways. For some, simply not knowing what’s ahead is the frightening part. For others, the unknown and the lack of control means absolute chaos and, in their minds, chaos is always dangerous.
Before we dive into this deeper, let’s take a look at the definitions of control from dictionary.com (Note: I left out the definitions that don’t apply to this specific topic):
As a Verb:
• to exercise restraint or direction over; dominate; command
• to hold in check; curb
• to eliminate or prevent the flourishing or spread of
As a Noun:
• the act or power of controlling; regulation; domination or command
• check or restraint
• a legal or official means of regulation or restraint
Do you see a common thread between the various definitions? RESTRAINT!
I don’t know about you, but when I think of my life, my goals, and how I want to live it, ‘restraint’ isn’t topping my list of descriptive words I want to use to describe it!
Don’t get me wrong; some control isn’t a bad thing. Exerting control is beneficial for the areas of your life that need some restraint: overspending, overeating, excessive drinking, etc. But, control is not helpful for the areas of your life where you want to flourish (note one of the definitions of ‘control’ is to eliminate or prevent the flourishing of…).
But when you have the beginnings of a beautiful idea, the birth of a new love, or a passion project that consumes your being, restraint is NOT what you want guiding you!
TIGHT FIST vs. OPEN PALMS
Most people (women in particular!) hold onto their lives with a tight fist.
I hate to break it to you, but by holding on so tight and trying to control everything, you're counterproductive. The tight grip stifles the ability for your energy to flow freely and for things to unfold naturally.
Think about it this way...imagine holding your hands out in front of you in a tight fist. Feel the energy it requires to hold your fist tightly balled. Now, release your fists and turn your hand's palms up. Notice how effortless that feels? Imagine holding something in your fist versus in your open palm. Which one is free to move about and even take flight? Not the one in your fist! It won't even be able to get fresh air or sunlight!
Holding on too tightly may also prevent you from seeing the signals that something isn’t right for you. Instead of heeding the warning signs, you continue to chase the wrong thing. When that happens, you feel it, but you misinterpret it as things slipping out of control and, in turn, you tighten your grip even more. Not only do you waste your own precious time, but think of how much energy that requires!
The tight grip you maintain in your life not only narrows your view, but it also creates a lot of stress. You put pressure on yourself to stick to your controlled path. If you deviate or fail, you beat yourself up because it didn’t go according to your perfectly controlled plan.
Most believe if you don’t exercise control, you have no path or plan, but that isn’t true. You can still have a plan and clearly see your way without needing a death grip of control on everything.
Control is a function of living in your head and being disconnected from your body. When you connect your mind and your body, you generate a new power within yourself.
The sad reality is that control limits your view and your potential because you are trying to control only what you can see. But, what you seek in life is typically outside of that window.
Why You Need to Release Control
Here's what happens when you loosen your grip:
• You feel a new softness in your life
• You feel a different energetic flow
• Things in your life begin to align
• You feel less stress
• You have a stronger sense of self and you know what is happening in your life is right
• You have a stronger trust in yourself
Without the tight hold, you ease into the right place...the right life. Think of control like the Hoover Dam of your life. It's blocking everything from flowing smoothly downstream. Everything has to fight to squeeze through the limited space. By releasing your control and loosening your grip, the dam crumbles down and your life, your energy, starts to flow as it should.
At first, when things start to align you'll think it's an amazing coincidence. But, trust me, it's not. Things are simply happening as you’re allowing them to unfold.
As you start to live this life, you will trust that you are guiding your ship in the right direction even if you can’t see where you’re going…you just know.
So...how does one loosen their grip on life?
• Trust in yourself
• Be curious and seek out what you don’t know
• Have the confidence to let go of what you see & feel isn’t working for you
• Drop into your heart space (click on the link above to my post on Power of Connecting Body and Mind for more discussion on this)
When you start the process of loosening your grip, you'll likely be uncomfortable and feel a little off track. It's not a natural state for most people because we're so used to being regimented and controlling. It will likely take conscious effort for awhile to loosen your grip and release some control. This isn't something that happens overnight.
When you feel your control taking over, imagine your fists versus your open palms. Remember the ease of the open palm and imagine yourself relaxing your grip. You may even want to hold your palms out in front of you and open them, so they face to the sky to physically release your grip.
When I approach things with open palms, it always flows more smoothly, I have more creative ideas, and there’s an inner sense of peace and joy (even when it’s not necessarily moving in the direction I imagined or originally wanted). Over time, the right path always reveals itself to me, and it never ceases to amaze me at what I find.
Discovering that control has a dark side and embrace the idea that you can go further by releasing some of this control will change how you approach life. If you want more from your life and you're not satisfied with where you are, it may just mean that it's time to let things flow more naturally.