Yesterday I was talking to a friend about how to let go of the need to control life which is often easier said then done - especially when we are dealing with stress. And perhaps even more so when dealing with the stress of loss.
We want to hang on to our lives as they once were, and at the same time, control what will happen next. This is a stress reaction from our 'reptile brain' - that old-school part of our brain that thinks it is responsible for keeping us safe. Back when we were cavewomen on the constant brink of death for any number of reasons, change often equated to death.
Thankfully, it isn't like that anymore.
But our reptile brain hasn't learned that yet. In our contemporary world, the "fight, flight, or freeze" auto-response leaves us trying to trying to control life.
The problem with this is (as you know) change is the only constant and therefore impossible to control. So as we try to control our life (and fail) we only add more stress. And, piling more stress on top o' stress simply doesn't make any sense.
What to do Instead (a.k.a How to Let Go with Ease):
1. Acknowledge your fears.
Give them some space. Be kind and gentle with your self-tallk.
For example, you could say something like: "I lost my job and I'm afraid of what my life will look like now. And, that's okay. It makes sense that I'd be fearful".
2. Give yourself permission to let go of your need to control...if only just a little bit.
For example, you could say something like, "I'm allowing myself to be open to what comes next." Or, "I'm open to the idea that what happens next could be better than my picture of how it should be."
3. Invite in a breathing practice where you double the length of your exhale.
For example, inhale to the count of 3 and exhale to the count of 6. Do this for 1-3 minutes. Seriously, just 1-3 minutes. Doing this simple exercise (in a safe space) can train your nervous system that it is safe to let go of control.
Next time you are feeling the need to control life or hold on, I invite you to try this simple 3-step process.
Let it go, and let it flow.
With love always,
P.S. For those of you who have lost a loved one, please know that I'm not asking you to let go of the person, the memories or your relationship. I'm gently nudging you to allow yourself to let go of some control as to how things will now unfold. I know it's hard. But, this process will make it more gentle for you.
P.P.S. At first glance this may seem unrelated, but it's not...I often use this when I'm feeling car-sick. For me I know that my car-sickness stems from feeling a lack of control. When I shift my self-talk and my breath I re-train myself that I'm safe, I allow myself to let go of the need for control and almost instantly I begin to feel better. Works like a charm ;)