We live in a very chaotic, stressful, and anxiety-producing world. Through all of the stresses out there, we try to find the few constants, the things that reassure us with their persistence. That's what drives the impulse to control; we may control ourselves (eating disorders, for example), control other people (as in abusive or manipulative relationships), or controlling situations (like workaholics or micromanagers). This control is not only unhealthy, but it teaches us to live in the future instead of the present.
As Eckhart Tolle says, "Most humans are never fully present in the now, because unconsciously they believe that the next moment must be more important than this one. But then you miss your whole life, which is never not now. And that's a revelation for some people: to realize that your life is only ever now."
Here are some ways to let go of control (and living in the future) and embrace the present moment.
1. Designate specific times to eliminate distractions and just be.
Wake up early and sip your coffee or tea slowly in a quiet room. Allow yourself to just be quiet and still. Here in the morning hours, you get to create a peaceful state of mind that can last throughout the day. Instead of starting the day by worrying how the day will go, try to focus on how pleasant this current moment is: just sitting there, enjoying your morning brew, feeling relaxed and at peace. Start by doing this just once or twice a week, then build up to quiet time every morning.
2. Try intuitive writing or painting.
Intuitive writing and painting are two forms of expression that don't involve planning or outlining. Instead, they just allow for free-flow creative streams. If you are more inclined to writing, start by finding a nice quiet spot. You can play some light music and get comfortable. Then just put your pen to paper and don't stop until all the words are out of your head. It doesn't even have to make sense. Don't try to control it. Just let all the words flow out.
If you're more inclined to art and painting, try the same exercises except with a blank canvas. Allow the art to just come out of you; don't try to control it or anticipate where you're going with it. Just allow the expression to flow.
3. Take a leap of faith.
How much are you ready to let go? How about doing something fearless? Taking a leap of faith can be anything from leaving the house without your cell phone to trusting your partner to complete a task without your help. It could be deciding to go sky diving or allowing your calendar to stay empty so that the universe can fill it up for you. Taking a leap of faith is a humbling, yet rewarding experience because you're showing the world that you are ready to give up your mental control and give it over to something bigger than yourself. You're saying, "I trust you. I don't need to control it."
4. Get lost on purpose.
When I am traveling in a new city or new part of town, I'm sometimes reminded of something my father used to say: "Let's get lost." He would load me up in the car on a Sunday morning and we would go on a drive to nowhere in particular. I remember letting my hands blow in the wind as he drove fast down an empty road. There was nothing to worry about because there was no destination. I gave him my complete trust; I knew he would never guide me wrong.
We didn't have GPS or cell phones. My dad didn't even keep a map in the car. But we would just drive until the sky met the earth, then get out of the car to look at the beautiful land in which we lived. Growing up in Kenya, there was always something untouched to explore.
We all have innate inner wisdom, and sometimes it's a magical thing when you let your soul do the driving. Go out and get lost and see just how much you can find yourself.
5. Practice surrendering.
Often people think surrendering means giving up identity or allowing others to rule you. That doesn't have to be the case. When you surrender to yourself, you say to the universe that you're comfortable being led in the right direction. You're attracting your most desired outcome by letting go of the need to control it, and instead having faith that it will get done exactly as it needs to be done.
I hope you'll let go and trust more. There's a whole universe to be explored once you stop hanging on to the safety net.