Get help today 888-319-2606 or sign up for 24/7 text support.
American Addiction Centers National Rehabs Directory

Letting Go of the Need for Control

When in recovery, it’s easy to get caught up in who and what you think you should be. We can get lost in the turbulent thoughts of past identities that no longer serve us. The truth is, who you think you need to be is solely based on your truth. It’s your perspective of what needs to be done in your life to get to the next level of recovery, happiness, and fulfillment.

We have a tendency to claim and hold onto outdated identities so that we don’t have to face giving up control of our environment and ourselves. Holding tightly to a past you that doesn’t align with where you’re at or where you’re going can only hold you back from the truth that you deserve to experience. Through letting go, comes freedom. Freedom is the experience of allowing things to be as they are while being mindful of what you want to create. In holding onto our past, we give our power away. In giving up control and releasing past energies, we step into our power and give ourselves permission to create something new, something aligned with who we actually want to be.

Creating One’s New Reality

We are all guilty of it, the need to control our situations and the outcomes in life. If you’ve kept up with the blogs I post here on, you will know that I stand by the notion that you create your reality. You are in charge of what you create, but you still need to give permission to the universe to work its magic. When we are stuck on controlling every little thing, we don’t allow the magic of the world to do what it does. We control because it’s safe. We control because we’re afraid that we might fail. This doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s either bad or good when we control because we can and should control the things in life that we have the ability to.

When we control beyond our means, we are attempting to rid ourselves of the possibility of any uncertainty. Uncertainty can be terrifying. It can bring up past wounds and anxiety, especially when we aren’t fully healed from those experiences yet. But through uncertainty, anything is possible. One of my favorite quotes from Mandy Hale is “Trust the wait. Embrace the beauty of becoming. When nothing is certain, anything is possible.” There is so much truth behind these words. When we give up the need to control all the parts of our reality, we give ourselves permission to embrace the unknown and grow with it. The process of becoming is what life is all about. When we choose to be in recovery, we are choosing to be better than we were before and allow uncertainty to help guide our next step.

Recovery is about understanding where you’ve been, where you’re at, and where you’re going – even when it’s not that clear yet. Clarity comes with confidence and confidence comes through acceptance and possibility. When we feel like we’re in control, we believe that we don’t have to face any risks. We think that we are being risk-averse, but in reality, we are only preventing any miracles from presenting themselves in our lives. Through risk comes growth. It’s important to take healthy risks to get clarity on what you want to create, to push yourself to your limits so you can experience what you’re capable of, and reach new heights that may not have been possible in the past because of a mindset that once held you back.

Expecting a Given Outcome

In the past, I identified with false beliefs and my struggles with food. I made myself believe that I was my struggle. What you identify with is so important, it shapes who you are and shapes the reality and life that you experience. When you let go of limiting beliefs, you open up a whole new experience that is shaped by your thoughts and actions. Being in recovery is an important first step, but the journey doesn’t end there. You get to be open and willing to let go of control and shift the way you self-identify. You have to get into the habit of surrender versus control. There is a time and place for both, but differentiating between the two is an important part of your growth.

I’ve written about the topic of surrender in the past, and I talk about it often because of its major importance. Control is the result of being attached to a specific outcome. When we control, we are pushing hard for the outcomes that we want, giving away our power to create something better than we could have ever imagined. We don’t have to micromanage the universe. It knows what we need and adheres to the thoughts in our heads. We literally create the reality that we see. Our experience of the world is a direct result of thoughts we think and the actions we take.

Surrendering the Expectation of Control

Surrender means to stop fighting with yourself. It’s the process of acceptance and allowing. It’s releasing our grip of the things that we cannot control. Ask yourself this question: “What am I afraid will happen if I let go of control?” This is a great starting point to begin recognizing where you are controlling and when it’s time to let a higher source of energy handle things (always in your favor, of course). When you are receptive and in a state of allowing, you are creating a reality that you could never have created on your own.

To surrender is to be free. When we shift the limiting stories that we tell ourselves to something that empowers us, we shift out of pushing, pulling, controlling, and holding. Through this, we get into the natural flow of the world. We collide with energies that are a match with ours and we begin to create beauty in our lives. Recovery can be a journey of love, strength, discovery, and acceptance if you allow it to be. Focus on what you actually want to create and rest in the certainty that everything happens for you, even when you aren’t sure exactly where you’ll end up. Find the beauty in the uncertainty and become friends with freedom.

“You must learn to let go. Release the stress. You were never in control anyway.”~Steve Maraboli

Was this page helpful?
Thank you for your feedback.

American Addiction Centers (AAC) is committed to delivering original, truthful, accurate, unbiased, and medically current information. We strive to create content that is clear, concise, and easy to understand.

Read our full editorial policy

While we are unable to respond to your feedback directly, we'll use this information to improve our online help.