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Gain Control by Losing Control


Most people think they need to control people and events in order to get what they want, or think they want. This is quite understandable when you consider the fact that from the time we were young children we have been immersed in a control dominated environment. After all, who could be more controlling than our parents? Even our teachers and religious leaders are controlling in various ways. Certainly, politicians are controlling, frequently manipulating and distorting facts in order to persuade us or gain our support. We thus become very secure with control and the idea of letting go of it can be very unsettling—and for many, unthinkable!

What most controllers fail to recognize is that the more we try to control our lives, the more “out of control” our lives actually become.

Most of us are constantly striving for a sense of security in today’s hectic, complex world.   Controlling actions—whether by pressing, forcing, resisting, and the like– are the primary means we use to try to accomplish this goal.  What we fail to recognize, however, is that the harder we strive for security, the more insecure we become.

That beguiling philosopher, Alan Watts, expresses it best in his little jewel of a book, The Wisdom of Insecurity (Vintage Books, 1951):  “It must be obvious, from the start, that there is a contradiction in wanting to be perfectly secure in a universe whose very nature is momentariness and fluidity….To put it more plainly: the desire for security and the feeling of insecurity are the same thing.”

Losing control of our lives helps us gain control over our lives.

As I explain (and demonstrate through true life stories) in Losing Control, Finding Serenity the more we are able to let go of control in our lives—particularly fear driven control–the more freedom and contentment we will have.  Losing control frees life’s “natural currents” and allows us to engage those currents in an intuitive and expansive manner, resulting in stronger family bonds, enhanced love and intimacy, expanded creative horizons and less stress and anxiety at work and at home.   Thus, although we can never truly “gain” control over our lives,  we can “gain” the sense of well  being and contentment that comes with losing control in vital areas of our lives.

Take This Challenge

Not convinced?  Don’t take my word for it. I challenge you to give up control in the following ways over the next week and observe what happens:

a.  Listen to your children without voicing your opinion or offering advice of any kind.     Remember that they are different from you, and do and process things differently than you do.

b.   Don’t plan anything at all on a Saturday or Sunday (or a week day if you are able), and simply go with what unfolds naturally that day. Try to let go of all expectations and impose no time limits on your activities that day.

c.  Don’t plan or think too much about what you should do (or about the outcome) in your creative endeavors.  Just enjoy the process.  And don’t strive for perfection!

Please drop me a line and let me know how it went.

In the meantime, remember to,

Let It Go–and Accept “What Is!”


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  • Galen Pearl
    Posted May 19, 2011 at 7:56 pm

    I will take that challenge, especially a and b. I just retired this week, and I was thinking I would block out a week or two with no commitments. And yet, look at my calendar–the next three weeks are packed! So right now, I’m going to block out a week in June and stick to it! As for the kids–always good advice. I’ve gotten much much better at it over the years. Wish I had caught on to that sooner! Thanks for the good advice.

  • Brenton
    Posted July 24, 2020 at 7:19 pm

    I enjoyed what you had to say. My question is, is there a need for planning and if so what purpose does it serve.

    • Post Author
      Daniel A. Miller
      Posted July 25, 2020 at 2:13 pm

      That’s a good question Brenton! I do believe it’s good to plan as a helpful guide so to speak, but you shouldn’t feel compelled or driven to follow it if circumstances warrant. I finds it’s a matter of finding the proper balance between control and surrender, which varies with each person. If I know my nature is to be a controller, I need to be mindful of when it’s best to let it go and trust “what is.”

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