Am I the only one who has a hard time releasing control?

I have more than a sneaking suspicion that I’m not. In fact, I know I’m not. For any ambitious woman who prides herself on productivity and perfectionism (and isn’t that pounded into most of us these days?), letting go of control is Haaarrrd.

For many of us, control is a learned behaviour. It was modelled to me by my mother, and is the dominant way of doing things in this  business-driven world. “You want something? Well, you’ve gotta work hard to get it, fight for it and make it happen!!” “Why depend on others to do something (and can you even depend on anyone else?), when you can do it yourself?)”

I don’t know about you – but this approach to life wore me out. I used to go, go, go, go goooo, push, pull, wrangle, achieve, produce, perform, until I crashed. For years, the only way I knew how to escape from this largely self-inflicted pressure was to drink myself out of it.

Years ago, a therapist pointed this out to me. “Your life is so controlled that the only time you give yourself permission to release is by drinking. Only then can you shut off, only then do you let yourself relax and get out of your busy brain.”

Yes, I could surrender control to alcohol, but it was more like a momentary giving up or giving in… a big F-you to the pressure I felt but without really trusting that tomorrow I wouldn’t have to wake up and be even harder on myself. Unless I was too hungover. Then it would be the day after. And the cycle continued.

I was not connected to my divine intuition. I didn’t feel aligned with the Universe or a power greater than myself. I certainly didn’t feel like God, or any spiritual force, “had my back.”

After suffering complete burn out (more than once) and feeling that any fun that originally came from these escapes now felt hollow, empty and pointless… I started seeing another way.

A more feminine approach, a softer approach… one that wasn’t so consuming and exhausting.

I started seeking another kind of surrender.

The theme of surrender came up again recently during a call with a mastermind group. All of the women in our group were being seriously challenged in this area, to the extent that our brilliant coach joked that she should start another program called the “School of Surrender for Ambitious Women.”

Somewhere along the way, many of us learned that surrender was like giving up. Throwing in the towel. A sign of weakness.

Yet as we launched ourselves deeper into our extremely personal work as entrepreneurs (all of the women in my mastermind have businesses that directly relate to our own struggles and evolution) we were being tasked with surrendering control at precisely the time when our years of “training” was convincing us to hold on more tightly.

Whether it came to balancing work and family life, the care of our children, creative inspiration, technological challenges, our own health and bodies, external forces… we were being shown a different path to the one taken before.

How does it differ from “control at all costs”? What I’ve learned is that it is a three-part process:

  • Show up for yourself 100%, do the work (the inside work) and then…

  • Stop trying to force an outcome!! Which involves a lot of…

  • TRUST!! Trust the process, have faith in the outcome.

Yes, I know. A lot easier said that done.

When I finally decided to really re-evaluate my relationship to alcohol and to stop using alcohol as a tool for escape and brief moments of freedom, so much changed for me.

I really started to know myself, deeply. And with that authentic self-knowledge and clarity (which is what I mean by showing up for yourself), came the trust. And with trust, I was slowly able to start surrendering control.

I am still unlearning the lessons that were 30+ years in the making. I still get handed whopping learning opportunities that show me that I have a lot more to learn about surrender.

I can tell you that I’m loving the process. I’m loving getting to know what real presence feels like. What it feels like to wake up and go to sleep with the same me. I’ve stopped distracting myself from me. I’m not afraid to let go. I’m not afraid because I know with every ounce of my being that I am sending clear messages to whomever is listening (and yes I also mean Spirit, The Universe and God) that I am more ready than ever to receive grace, abundance, ease, love, inspiration and growth. Sometimes the gifts are unexpected, sometimes the outcomes are not what I might have predicted. Sometimes it is even better than the results I may have forced if I was still more attached to “making it happen.”

Showing up for myself and doing my part allows the Spirit/Universe/God to show up and provide. This is true divinity in action.

How does the concept of surrender resonate with you? Let me know in the comments!