I labeled myself as a “control freak” for a long time. Even before motherhood. Honestly, when I became a mom, it only increased.
I spent so much of my life pushing, controlling, and calculating to ultimately be successful. Of course, because of the society we live in, many women share this sentiment. You have to outperform your male colleagues, compete with other women, be the best at what you do — just to be seen as successful. So, I did it with control. Control was my crutch, my bestie, and my secret to success.
Then, when I became a mom, I felt like my life was out of control soooo often. Another painfully relatable feeling for moms everywhere. When you become the responsible party for another human being, of course, you yearn for control over even the uncontrollable surges.
Why Do We Feel the Need for Control?
Which is why motherhood brings on the need for control in every aspect of life. Because there is so much fear in motherhood.
Will they fall into the glass table?
Will they get into the best preschool?
Will they grow up to be kind?
What will everyone think of me?
That last one is a biggie — the fear of what others will think of us. The world judges mothers — not only for their actions, but the actions of their children, and every microscopic detail in between. From the second one enters the world of motherhood, the feeling of judgement is thrust upon you, and the need for control begins to increase.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. As Chödrön suggests, we can live beautifully and fulfilled, and feel in control. But the secret to living like this seems counterintuitive. The way to accomplish this balance of fulfillment and control is actually letting go of control.
Why Is Release the Solution?
What in the world?! We just talked about how control feels ultra-necessary to get ahead in life and in motherhood.
I know. Bear with me.
While control may feel necessary, constant control is unhealthy and unobtainable. It’s like you’re jumping from the floor to reach a bar that is only physically possible to reach with a 20-foot ladder.
So, when we acknowledge that we cannot truly control anything outside of our own thoughts and actions, we can create healthy boundaries, forgive ourselves, and — most of all — let go of control and be free.
No, we cannot control our children, our spouse, or Carol with the perfect manicure and her perfectly-dressed kids. And that’s okay!
The key, instead, is to accept things at face value. Partners forget to do the laundry. Kids have grocery store meltdowns. You might have to do school drop off in pajamas sometimes. The point is, it happens to everyone, whether you notice or not, and a controlling grip isn’t the solution (for you or anyone else).
Ultimately, you’ve got to let go of control.
How to Let Go of Control
Way easier said than done, right? Not everyone has time for yoga class and deep breathing exercises. While that truly can help, it doesn’t have to be the only way. Try starting small.
1. Recognize and Address Your Feelings
Feel guilty over a mistake? Own up to it.
When you address it, there’s nowhere for the feelings to hide. Something you’ve deemed a problem is now out in the open, ready to be dealt with. And wow, isn’t that a freeing feeling.
Now dig into why the guilt is there to begin with! As Brene Brown discusses it, our guilt is like a guide — showing us where our actions are out of alignment from our priorities.
Forgive yourself and allow that same forgiveness to flow to others.
3. Give Yourself Grace
Nobody is perfect, and mistakes are human. Don’t harp on them. You are doing GREAT, Momma!
And remember: your feelings are valid.
End of story. Even if your opinion is skewed or maybe you’re in the wrong, nobody can force you to feel one way or another. Instead of hiding your feelings, just put them out there, give them some breathing room, and move on.
2. Put up boundaries in your life.
Boundaries are a kindness to yourself and others. They’re not made of concrete, but they are flowing and flexible to serve you.
Repeat after me: you do not have to say yes to everything.
Do yourself a favor and practice the word “no.” Some people may see your boundaries as unkind — those people were benefiting from you not having boundaries. But when you have them, you’re able to give freely, and feel less resentful.
Letting Go of Control Doesn’t Have to be Scary
My hope is that, in reading the reasoning behind how letting go of control actually frees you to feel more in control, you now have the confidence to take action. You can do this! Step by step, just put these practices in place and watch how life can improve.