I’m a confessed recovering perfectionist and, well, a hypocrite. Although I teach people how to be flexible, I am, by nature, a control freak. I like to plan, manage, organize, and anticipate. Can’t you tell by my face in the above photo where I’m working with other chefs?! I prefer things my way and when they don’t go as planned, I still, on occasion, freak out.
The truth is that us control freaks freak out because we are so deeply afraid of being vulnerable. We’re afraid of being wrong, looking bad, and not living up to the stressfully high expectations we have set for ourselves. But as soon as we recognize that these expectations are self-imposed, we’re able to work on letting go and finally free our minds of how things ought to be. Try these tips below and perhaps surprise yourself with how well things might go when they aren’t perfectly planned:
1. Get To Know Yourself Better
If you really want to let go and change your behavior, you have to first figure out why you so desperately need to be in control. If you let go, what will happen? Ask yourself, “What’s the big deal if things don’t go my way?” If you let a co-worker take charge of the big business meeting, will your job really be at risk? Probably not! If you ask for help planning a big party, will the aesthetic turn out all wrong and guests really won’t show up? Probably not! If you indulge in a sweet treat from time-to-time, will the number on the scale immediately jump up by 10? The answer is most definitely no! So, honestly, might there be very little to really be afraid of?
2. Move Your Body
Any type of dynamic physical movement will allow the release of powerful endorphins and, if sustained, bring you into a flow state in your body. In states of flow, you feel more vibrant and alive. Your worries and fears seem fleeting. Yoga practice—specifically accompanied by breath work, visualization, and meditation—has the same, and perhaps even more powerful, effect. By focusing on controlling the body and the breath, over time you begin to surrender to it.
3. Train Your Brain
Years ago, I began teaching a powerful breath work mantra in my yoga classes. It’s simple and you can do it anywhere with your eyes closed. As you inhale, mentally say the word, “let.” As you exhale, let your mind say the word, “go.” Inhale-let. Exhale-go. As you recite these words, with practice, your exhalation will become deeper and you might find that this visualization and breath work can have a powerful effect on your brain. Use this mantra whenever you need it.
4. Have Faith
In the end, magic only happens when you allow life to unfold rather than orchestrate it. Think about the moments that you’ve felt most alive. They are probably not the ones you planned. They were likely filled with surprise, spontaneity, and mystery. Your special moments likely involve people you love. Have faith that by surrendering control, you are inviting in wonder.
5. Practice Letting Go Of Your Inner Control Freak
The art of letting go won’t be achieved overnight. Just like with anything else, practice makes perfect. So start delegating small tasks as you begin to understand how to quiet that voice inside your head. You know, the one telling you that you have to make sure everything happens “just right.” Over time, you’ll actually learn to appreciate the extra help, and you’ll be able to breathe a sigh of relief knowing the weight of the world isn’t really on your shoulders.