This week has been an exercise for me in letting go. My husband and I agreed to begin the process of adopting a family dog. I immediately found The One, however my husband was not certain, and needed more time to adapt to the idea of adding a dog to our crazy busy life. I struggled to quietly give him the time he needed, and meanwhile someone else adopted the dog while we were out of town for a weekend away. Hooray, an opportunity for me to practice letting go of my ideal outcome, letting go of what I do not have control over: my husband, the dog adoption agency, random other families looking for a dog… The list could go on and on.
What causes us to hold on tight and try to control in the first place? Often, it’s fear. What might happen if we lose control? Fear of loss, fear of the unknown, fear of feeling powerless? A strong need for security, safety?
Sometimes, life hands us situations that are difficult, painful, or at best, different than what we expected. It can be as simple as someone disagreeing with us, or our children making bad choices. Or sometimes, it’s something more complicated like an unexpected illness or a job layoff. Here are some tips you can use to find peace in letting go and surrendering to the uncontrollable.
- Understand what is within your control – you and your behavior, your choices
- Process the feelings you have related to this particular event/ situation
- Come up with a contingency plan to replace your original plan
- See the gifts in this unexpected and uncontrollable event
- Reframe your thoughts to recognize and accept what is out of your control
How do we apply these tips to our daily lives? With my dog adoption process, I decided it was not worth being angry with my husband and spent a few hours grieving and accepting the factors that were out of my hands. I rationalized that there will be many other great dogs to adopt when the time is right. I have many other places to put my energy then wishing the outcome were different in a situation that I have no power to change. For you the letting go may be big or small, but practicing the process will change your life!
“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I can not control,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference”