“Some of us think holding on makes us strong, but sometimes it is letting go”
– Herman Hesse
One of the biggest illusions we can construct for ourselves is the illusion of control.
Somewhere along the way we are taught and are led to believe that we can control what other people think of us, the outcomes of our situations or even how we are treated by our family and friends but in reality it’s just not so. It’s a beautiful illusion deeply rooted in our being. We go to church and believe that we can bargain with God. We plea with Him in prayers, asking for situations to change and for other people to change in exchange for our devotion and for our spreading of His word. We do good deed after good deed in order to bank our karma; Hoping that all the good we put out into the world will someday be repaid to us in some type of unexpected gift or serendipitous chance happening.
I’ve had a long, troubled relationship with this thing called control and have spent the better part of my life learning how to let go of it. But the truth is I still fight tooth and nail to keep it close at my side.
Even now when things don’t go as planned, I still often go through all the things I think I could have done differently. If only I would have said something, if only I would have not said something, if only I would have done this or that. I can always look back and think of a million ways I could have acted differently but in reality there is no guarantee that changing anything I said or did would have made a difference to the outcome.
So what the heck do we have control over then? Nothing?
There is one thing we DO have control over. We simply have control over ourselves. In the end no matter how much we pray, how nice of a car we have, how many times we hit the Yoga mat or how often we donate our time or money, our own personal actions, emotions and reactions are all we ever have control over.
The few most profound moments in my life were the moments when I had the clarity and the courage to let go of the things I could not change.
If you have ever done this you know what I’m talking about. That part anxiety, part blissful moment when you find the strength to let go of personal expectations, past resentments, or destructive attachments to people and/or outcomes is something amazing and at the same time it’s incredibly difficult to do but so worth it.
“Letting go gives us freedom, and freedom is the only condition for happiness. If, in our heart we still cling to anything – anger, anxiety or possessions – we cannot be free”