The Struggle of Letting Go

We humans are masters of frustrating ourselves to death. We are great at self-imposed stress and we’re getting better at it every day. What does it take to let go and intentionally lose control? How do we stop trying to manipulate the uncontrollable and start to accept things the way they are or will play out to be?

I’ll admit it. I’m one of the worst offenders of trying to control my outcomes to a chronic fault. Now, I’m not referring to the type of outwardly-projected control of others or downright maligned manipulation. I’m talking about trying my best (or worst?) to control my own outcomes in everyday life.

Applying for jobs, projects that rely on other’s input, or trying to maneuver the mundane tasks of everyday living.

The struggle to let go

When I was diagnosed with cancer at 29 years old it was a very frustrating time, initially. Fear of the unknown, fear of the known, and fear of well, fear filled my every thought. This wasn’t a fear as in scared fear. It was more about the inability to have any control.

Once I had a chemotherapy treatment plan established I felt better. Having a plan was a loosely-based interpretation of control. Control was the goal so this was a start.

As treatments mounted in a very cumulative fashion I became weary of my true control. I struggled to have a treatment and then just wait. I had to rest, stay healthy as much as possible, and wait. This didn’t sit well since I was used to doing something about any situation I was in.

As I endured more chemotherapy I received the news that I would be needing to extend my treatment plan several more weeks. At this point one thing was for certain.

I wasn’t in control. The cancer was. Or should I say the battle my body was undergoing was.

I had to let go. I had to trust my doctor (which I always have) and let things play out. All I could do was follow the orders, do my best to eat well, sleep, and rest when needed, and… wait.

Letting go to take control

We often don’t realize how letting go gives us a sense of control. How actively deciding to drop our egos and let our situations play out will benefit us in the long run. This isn’t to say we need to become completely passive with everything we’re confronted with. It’s just a great weapon against certain situations out of our sphere of influence.

First, we must identify what falls on our list. Wisdom comes from the ability to identify what we can influence (and shouldn’t) and what we can’t. From there we must start the work of positioning ourselves the right way for the best outcome. After that we need to let go and trust the process.

It’s a tough pill to swallow. Trust me. I know. I struggle with it to this day. But when I truly let the proper things go and am left to the whims of the process I feel a slight wash of freedom.

This freedom is actually a form of control. Control of our emotions, decision-making skills, and real trust in ourselves.

Have you ever been to a party or with a group of friends and the subject of politics or some other controversial subject gets brought up and you just bite your tongue, smile, and tactfully switch the subject to something more whimsical? You let go of your (possibly) deep beliefs. You let them come in your head and then go just as easily.

Did you have the feeling of control of that situation? Where you at least a little proud of yourself? Did it feel good to pivot the potentially heated debate into something a bit more fun or interesting for the group?

That is a form of control. Control over one’s own emotions, reactions and, potentially, the outcome. Very powerful indeed.


Do you struggle with having a lack of control?

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