Giving Up Control
Accepting What You Cannot Change and Going with the Flow
Written by Randi Fine
Narcissistic Abuse Awareness and Guidance with Randi Fine
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference. “ ~Serenity Prayer~
Do you have trouble giving up control and accepting that which you cannot change? If so you are not alone.
We all find ourselves overwhelmed at times by situations we have no control over; situations we cannot change no matter how hard we try or what we do.
Resistance to acceptance creates negative feelings such as frustration, anger, jealousy and regret that interfere with our day to day peace of mind. It prevents us from forgetting or forgiving that which is beyond our control and moving forward.
We experience many things in our day to day lives that are beyond our control; the weather, natural disasters, traffic conditions, delays, illness, the economy, etc. These experiences may make us feel uncomfortable, we may not like them, but we grit our teeth, make our best effort to roll with the punches, and move forward.
It is easier, sometimes effortless, to relinquish control in situations that do not personally threaten us or trigger an uncomfortable emotional state. But when something in our life threatens our security, our tendency is to cling tightly to control.
Control is always rooted in fear and attached to an outcome we believe is best for us. We fear that if we relinquish control, it will result in an undesired outcome. We fear that this undesired outcome will rock our emotional foundation. But it is fear-based control that unsettles our emotional well-being. As long as we continue to exercise control over everything in our world, we cannot accept what comes our way and therefore cannot live in peace.
The lines between what we can and cannot control may blur sometimes. For instance, if someone close to us is on a self-destructive path, is it realistic to believe we can effectively change or control the person’s behavior?
We can and probably should try if we care about the person’s welfare, but must accept that the ultimate outcome is reliant on that person’s own desire to change. We can change our response to that person’s behavior, our level of acceptance of it, and our attitude, but we must accept our powerlessness in changing another individual without that person’s desire to do so. We can make the effort but should no be emotionally attached to the outcome.
Many of us have difficult accepting a regretful or painful past. We focus a great deal of emotional energy wishing we could change our past, even though our logical minds know that is impossible to do; that it is beyond our control.
There are actions we can take and attitudes we can adopt to help us come to terms with what happened. We can apologize and take responsibility for anything we may have done in the past that we regret. We can extract meaning and learn from our past experiences and mistakes. What we cannot do is change it.
We can however change the present and positively impact the future. We can face the repercussions of our past and move forward in the present. But ultimately we must come to terms with our past and accept it, because not accepting what happened will cause a great deal of disharmony in our lives.
There are several things we can control or change in our lives with the expectation of positive outcomes. We can control aspects of our lives related to self-love, self-esteem, the betterment of our health, the enrichment of our relationships, and the quality of our lives.
We can improve our lives by changing the way we use our personal time, changing our habits, changing our relationships and the nature of them, changing the direction of our lives, changing our environments, changing our goals and occupations, and changing our health consciousness.
Each of us has power within to change our choices, our opinions, our core beliefs and values, and our points of view. And if we desire we can effectively control or change any responses, reactions, expectations, attitudes, or moods that do not serve us well.
On the other hand, no amount of control can change the families we were born into, our innate talents, our physical tendencies, our genetic make-ups or our sexual preferences. Likewise, our death and the death of those we love are inevitable realities for all of us.
We can wrestle with our feelings, live in denial, lash out, or feel victimized by our lots in life, but we can never change them. We do, however, have two options. The first option is giving up control and accepting the reality of what is. The second option is living in misery with a reality we cannot accept.
It is extremely difficult and painful to accept what we do not like, what we wish we could change but cannot. Resignation is hard to come to terms with when control is completely out of our hands. But the bottom line is, our happiness depends on that acceptance.
Why not swim with the current instead of against it? Resistance builds blockages; blockages that create depression, sleep disturbances, anxiety, stress, and general un-wellness. Once we decide to go with the flow instead of against it our lives begin changing in spectacular ways.
The irony is, when we begin giving up control of everything in our lives we begin to gain more control over it. Acceptance and allowance open us up to all the possibilities that exist in the Universe. Acceptance frees our mind, body, and spirit.
Acceptance is a choice we make to better our life. It begins with realistic expectations about life itself; with the understanding that life is not always fair, not everyone will like or love us, no one is perfect, and everyone experiences adversity.
Acceptance comes with the realization that there is no true reality; that no two people share the same exact perceptions, that there are as many points of view as there are people. It is the realization that our point of view is not the only one that is right, logical or fair.
Acceptance involves the taming of our egos and the embracing of humility. It comes with believing we are worthy of everything, but not entitled to anything other than our opinion.
Acceptance is understanding that we are not cursed, we are not victims of life, and no one is punishing us.
Acceptance is about taking charge of the direction of our lives. It is about recognizing that we, not the Universe or supreme power, not our families, not our partners, not our government, are responsible for our happiness and well-being.
If the thought of giving up control over everything in your life scares you, start by being mindful of the impulse to do it. When you are ready take a leap of faith and observe the outcome.
To quote the wise ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu: “Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”
Randi Fine is the author of the groundbreaking book Close Encounters of the Worst Kind: The Narcissistic Abuse Survivor’s Guide to Healing, the most comprehensive, most well researched, and most up-to-date book on this subject. In addition to helping survivors recognize their abuse and heal from it, this book teaches mental health professionals how to recognize and properly treat the associated abuse syndrome. She is also the author of Cliffedge Road: A Memoir, the first and only book to characterize the life-long progression of complications caused by narcissistic child abuse.