Find Greater Peace by Letting Go
As my kids have gotten older, I realize how little control I actually have over their lives—and everything else for that matter.
Through the years, I have witnessed someone close to me anxiously attempt to force and control situations, other’s choices and actions—so much so that they pushed them away and ruined the hopes of having the close relationships they longed for.
When I was younger, I found this person difficult, and at times, nearly impossible to befriend. Today, I am far more compassionate and understanding. The years have humbled me. Parenting has humbled me and being married for 26 years has humbled me. I too struggle with wanting to control situations and other’s choices and actions.
It’s easy to give advice, voice my opinion, intervene when my kids aren’t getting along, attempt to force meaningful conversations and tell my husband what he needs to do. I am all too familiar with the cost—it steals my joy and peace, is exhausting, depleting and creates dissatisfaction. Rather than feeling peaceful and fostering the connection I desire, it fuels anxiety and drives my loved ones away.
As moms, it’s easy to believe we know what is best for our loved ones. It’s hard to stand by and watch our kids make bad choices. Instead, we offer advice and try to be supportive and helpful. We want to have happy marriages and the kind of family that is close and connected and want our loved ones to succeed and be happy as well. After all, when they are happy, we are happy, right?
But, what if they’re not happy? What if things are not the way we planned? What if the choices they make aren’t what we would have wanted? What if others aren’t cooperating with our hopes for the future? How do we as mothers learn to be happy with these opposite outcomes?
Well, I don’t know all the answers to those questions, but what I do know is what has helped me.
Here are 4 ways that I have found helpful to let go of trying to control others and foster peace within me:
1. We acknowledge our powerlessness over others.
The first step in AA is to admit that we are powerless over other people’s choices. This is a difficult first step but one that is essential if we are to find our true power and peace.
When we admit we are powerless we open our clenched fists and cultivate an open heart. We free others and ourselves to live our own lives.
2. We practice humility.
Acknowledging that we are not in control takes humility. It’s a process, a daily practice and not always easy.
We get to choose if we will allow our disappointments to make us bitter or better. If we want to become better people we need to let go of our superiority and ego in order to allow love, compassion and peace to grow. This means that we stop believing that we have the “right” answers, or that we know what someone else needs, or what others “should” do. Basically, we quit playing God.
3. We surrender our agenda.
I believe much of our attempts to control are to manage our own anxiety—we don’t want to feel the hurt, disappointment, or pain of what is different than what we thought it would be. Often we react out of our fear of what the future may bring and we miss the moment that is right there in front of us.
Surrender transforms who we become. When we surrender our agenda we take our eyes off of trying to change others and put it back where it belongs—with us. When we give up control we learn what it means to truly love and accept others, not based on who we think they should be, but for whom they really are. No longer is there the pressure on them to be someone that meets our expectations or needs. Rather than looking to others for our happiness, we begin to explore the answers to questions that put us in touch with what makes us happy independently from others.
4. We choose to live a life we love.
By loosening our grip, lightening our load, and allowing others to live their own lives, oftentimes what we want happens. We find renewed energy. We become peaceful, trusting and accepting as a result. We are able to get in touch with our own divine purpose in new ways—possibilities open up and life becomes a thrilling adventure of self-discovery.
It is as if we morph from caterpillars into butterflies. We are no longer cocooned by the limiting belief that we are responsible or dependent on the choices of others. Instead, we gain freedom to embrace our own lives and soar. We not only free ourselves, we free others as well.
As you embrace today, choose to practice letting go in small ways. For me, these are spiritual practices—walking in nature, mindfulness mediations (click here), breath prayers (click here to for more on breath prayers), listening to uplifting music, journaling or reading Scripture.
Find what works for you…and then ask yourself:
- What would I do if I took some time and energy and invested in myself?
- What gifts or talents do I want to develop?
- What do I love to do?
- What am I passionate about?
Change really does begin with us—letting go of trying to control, admitting we are powerless over others, practicing being humble, letting go of our agenda, and living our own lives fully. With daily practice, we can live more peaceful, create a life we love, and find the true key to happiness—ourselves.
Questions: What do you have trouble letting go of? What helps you to let go and find peace?