What is it with human beings and our desire to control every aspect of our respective universes? From a theoretical point of view, we get it. There are very few things in life we have complete and total control over. However, our pesky emotions always seem to trump logic. We each find ourselves imitating Sisyphus, continually rolling a large rock up an impossible incline only to have it come crashing down on us. The most priceless part, we’re pissed when that happens.
Frankly, if you’re a control freak, this article may keep you up at night. There are very few things we have complete control over. Which is why we let our emotions con our brains into attempting world domination. I typically would discourage New Year’s resolutions; however, I think this could be a good one. Simply vow to work on saying goodbye to your inner control freak.
You can practice letting go in a whole bunch of ways. I am a very visual person, so I keep a notebook with me. Here’s how I use it, it’s a simple technique. Let’s say my company announces that they will be taking away their contribution to our 401(k). My inner control freak is getting ready to Hulk out – “Hulk smash”!! On the flip side, the letting go Darin will pull out his notebook and jot down the first few thoughts, emotions, colors, shapes, etc. that pop into my head. Why this random list of “things”? Here is my very simplified version of what’s happening between your ears. Our brain has already gone over to the dark side. In this swirl of emotions, there is no logic, which is why it’s often difficult to articulate what you’re feeling. Sometimes it’s an angry red blob. Other times it’s a daunting cliff. Maybe it’s a fire breathing unicorn – sorry, I digress. What you’ll find is that this mental time out forces your brain back to the logical side of your reality – “my company is taking away their 401(k) match. Am I thrilled about it? No! Will life go on? Clearly it will.”. 99% of the time, once you invoke this mental wakeup call, you’ll be able to breathe again. You can substitute a plethora of other activities for the journal; a walk, counting, snapping your wrist with a rubber band, gambling, drinking heavily…wait, no, don’t do those, I had my psychological notes mixed up.
BTW, the example of the change to 401k happened with my company. Was I upset? No, but the firestorm of emotions is still raging with some folks to this very day. I could have substituted 1,000 other real world examples, we each have them. I’m not picking on the people that got worked up about the 401(k), I empathize with the fear we each have around our true lack of control in the world. That’s why I feel this is a worthwhile resolution. Find one or two things that fire you up and resolve to work on letting them go in 2017. You won’t always succeed, but that’s not the point of this resolution. The point is to acknowledge the need and to simply try.
Even small victories in letting go will net huge benefits. You’ll find that you’re less tense, less anxious, less irritable, you’ll sleep better, hell, you might even win the lottery! Okay, I made that last one up. BUT, if you do win the lottery remember my kind-hearted post.