It’s nice to have some control over things, but journalist Catelijne Elzes discovered it can also be limiting. She shares what happens when she is able to loosen the reins.
It’s logical to want to have some control; after all, this is what helps us get things done in our lives. But how do we know when we’re going overboard? “When other people tell us it bothers them,” Dutch psychologist Carien Karsten says. “When all we can see are the things that aren’t good enough, at home or at work, for example. When every little bit of fuzz on the floor starts to irritate us and we always have to say something about it. Personally, we believe that we are completely justified in feeling irritated, but someone else might see us as a control freak, and might just say something about it.”
We can feel it ourselves too: we get tired, overly sensitive, easily thrown off balance and vulnerable. And even if we take a week off, things don’t improve afterward. “Oddly enough,” Karsten says, “we don’t notice that we want to have way too much control until we start to lose control. We can’t control our emotions anymore because we are wearing ourselves out.”
In her blog, Let Go of Control: How to Learn the Art of Surrender on tinybuddha.com, American coach and psychologist Amy Johnson explains what the control setting feels like for her. ‘My vision gets very narrow and focused, my breath is shallow, adrenaline is pumping and my heart rate increases,’ she writes. ‘My mind shifts from topic to topic and from past to future very quickly, and I have little concentration, poor memory, and almost no present-moment awareness.’
In other words, she’s the opposite of relaxed. Once Johnson manages to get into surrender mode, she becomes calmer and peaceful, breathes deeper and is more present in the moment.
“One thing I often see happen when people decide to relinquish control is that they start to blossom,” Karsten says. “They have more self-confidence, energy, creativity and fun in their lives. They are proud that they also feel good and appreciated when they start focusing less on achievements.”
- The complete story ‘Just wait and see’ can be found in Issue 31.
Text Catelijne Elzes Photography Pablo Hermoso