We hear phrases like “its not worth your time”, “let go and let God” or “it’s out of your control”. Understanding the meaning of “letting things go,” is much easier than putting it into practice. We may be extremely sensitive about an issue, and when our buttons have been pressed, we want to react with our emotions. Not that this is wrong, emotions are a very important part of us. Emotions let us know when we may be in danger, they can help to guide us to a solution or just make life more enjoyable. It is when we hold onto whatever is upsetting us that we lose control of our emotions, often taking a turning toward anger and resentment.
Maybe you can relate. Set the scene for when you walk in the door at home. Low and behold dinner is in the freezer, uncooked…the laundry is strewn all over the bedroom floor, the dog hasn’t been fed and you are hungry and tired. After all, you haven’t been home since early that morning. You became ridged and angry. You then make sly remarks to your family members about how things never get done. Or you compare yourself to your loved ones saying things like “if I had the time you do, this place would be running like a well oiled machine”. You try to control the situation and motivate those involved by passing judgments on them. You take these actions, or lack of action, personally. For someone you love to neglect your needs and the basic responsibility of daily living is out of your wheelhouse of reason. Holding onto this expectation instead of accepting whatever life you open the door to, leaves you feeling empty handed. We find plenty of reasoning for the way we feel about these kinds of situations. But our sight becomes foggy when we place blame and expectations on others.
We can not control other people and the way they choose to live their life. If they choose not to clean, to not be intimate with us, to not go to their doctor appointment or to do something harmful, that is their choice. As difficult as it may be to witness these things, we must understand we have no control over it. We may for a moment get the outcome we wanted when we manipulate or pass judgments on others. But in the other persons heart, they are building a wall of resentment, wishing and hoping for freedom from your demands. This is generally not the life we want with our loved ones. Most of the human race longs and searches for openness and acceptance in their relationships. By trying to control a desired outcome, even when we are not aware we are doing it, can have catastrophic side effects. These walls of resentment happen on both sides.
One person (we’ll call them the controller) places an expectation on the other (the receiver). When the receiver fails to deliver the desired outcome, the controller feels unloved and unappreciated. They then become aggravated building their own wall of resentment by degrading the receivers ability to complete the task. The controller than goes on to do what they do best, that is to control and manipulate. This is done so to insure the receiver is better equipped to deliver the correct outcome. The receiver than feels insecure and worthless for not measuring up to the expectations the controller placed before them. They are confused and feel ashamed. If these encounters become a way of life in the relationship the receiver becomes rebellious and turns their frustrations of not measuring up into anger and resentment. Building their walls until they are so high on both sides there is little to no conversation at all. Both the controller and the receiver can benefit from letting go. The controller can not make the other person fulfill their desires all the time. Sooner or later the receiver will rebel or at the least, become distant emotionally. The receiver can not change the controllers perceived need of fulfilled expectations. The controller may have unfulfilled desires that they themselves need only to fill. No other person makes the controller happy, they need only to look to themselves for happiness instead of placing that expectation on others. For the receiver to understand they are not responsible for the controllers happiness is a giant step toward letting go.
Most of us have been in both the receiving and controlling rolls at one point or another. We learn to manipulate early on in life to get the things we want and need. The systemic issues that arise from trying to control what is outside the realm of our responsibilities, are monumental. The level ground we have here is both the receiver and the controller can learn that they have no control over the other persons actions or reactions. We only have control over our own behavior and responsibilities.
This understanding allows us to let go. Letting go relieves us of misplaced responsibility and allows us to enjoy the moment. For some letting go is very difficult, there are somethings we hold onto so tightly we are afraid of losing the control we believe we have. There are a few ways to allow yourself the freedom of letting go. One way is giving what is out of your control to your Higher Power. A “Higher Power” is someone or some power that is outside of yourself and not another human being. Your Higher Power could be the universe/nature or God/gods. Some call it fate “fate has a way of working itself out”. However you understand your Higher Power to be, is your business and yours alone. It is an intimate relationship and you choose how much faith you are willing to put in it. Putting faith in giving up control and allowing a power greater than yourself to handle it is a freeing, peaceful way to live. Another way is to accept somethings are uncontrollable by us and leaving it at that.
Whenever we are unsure whether or not to control a situation, it is helpful to ask ourselves a few questions…
“Is this something in my life that I am responsible for? Or is it someone else’s issues to handle?”
“Will this enhance my relationship and my life?”
“Is it healthy for me to do this?”
“Will I become irritated if I step into help?”
“Have I met my own needs so I can better help the needs of others?”
“Will demanding my loved ones to meet their responsibilities demean them? If so how can I lovingly tell them how I feel when they neglect their responsibilities?”
“Have I done anything to provoked a negative feeling or disrespected this person? If so how do I go about making amends? If not, I need to accept that this person is on their own journey to self discovery and I am not responsible for their feelings.”
“Do I have any reservations or bias that would disqualify my aid?”
“Am I enabling my loved one by not allowing them to feel the full weight of their own responsibilities?”
“Am I passing judgement?”
Letting go of things that are out of our control can be scary. But when we lift the weight of misplaced responsibility we find freedom and peace. This can offer a clear perspective of what is in our realm of responsibility. People’s actions are one of the many things we can learn to let go of.
Live in Peace