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The Art of Allowing: Let Go of Control and Go with the Flow

Woman with Outstretched Arms

“Accepting, allowing, and interacting with your life as though it is exactly as it should be, without making yourself wrong (or right) for what you discover is the way to Self-Realization.” ~Ariel Kane

When you’re confused about what to do next, fully surrendering to the possibilities will help you see a clear path ahead.

It all started the day I had lunch with my university friend Sarah.

Sarah had been traveling since graduation and was full of exotic tales about life in other countries—different languages, foods, and cultures.

What she was experiencing sounded amazing. She told me she had no plans to settle down and was, in fact, preparing to pack her bags again soon and travel to the UK.

Several of our mutual friends were already there, and Sarah extended the invitation to me to travel with her. The idea sounded fantastic and I wanted to jump at the opportunity. I’d always been interested in travel, and this seemed like the perfect chance to have the adventure of a lifetime.

The trouble was that I had recently embarked on my career. I was working for a reputable company on a specific project. This was work I had dreamed of pursuing while obtaining my degree, and it wasn’t an ideal time to pack up and leave.

To compound this, I also had a strong sense of wanting to do the decent thing by my boss and my colleagues, which meant seeing the project through to completion.

On the flipside, I was worried that if I didn’t go traveling with Sarah, I would miss my chance entirely. For weeks I was conflicted—paralyzed by confusion and completely frustrated with myself because I was totally incapable of making a decision.

I was caught in one of those classic scenarios where you have your heart whispering in your left ear and your brain nagging in your right ear, both with opposing views.

While leaving with Sarah sounded very tempting, I could not summon the courage to quit my job. My inner-conflict was all encompassing.

In the end, tired of waiting for me to make up my mind, Sarah left without me.

Over the following weeks, at every opportunity I dawdled around bookshops flipping through travel guides. I finished the work project and, as the assignment came to an end, I discovered that I had enjoyed it immensely even though at times I had been very distracted.

I also discovered that I had a real talent for the work I was doing. As a result of my dedication and commitment, the firm rewarded me with another opportunity—a promotion and a pay rise.

Ultimately, the extra money in my pay packet meant that I could afford to go and visit my friends, and this is eventually what I did. Down the track, I ended up enjoying the best of both opportunities, although at the time I did not know that it was going to work out that way.

What I know now, looking back, is that by actively not making a decision about traveling versus my career, I was practicing the art of allowing.

I sat with the confusion I felt. Even though it felt like I was really stuck, I was in fact, surrendering to the natural ebb and flow of my life and letting the next thing come to me.

These days I try to practice the art of allowing more consciously, especially at times when I feel deeply conflicted and my head and heart are giving me different messages.

When you’re in a state of confusion, resistance can easily set in. This causes anger, fear, panic, tension, and stress. Then, as a consequence of these emotions, we can also feel tempted to force a decision. But it is at exactly these times—when we are most uneasy—that we need to practice the art of allowing.

Sometimes it takes real effort to do nothing and simply be in the experience. Especially because most of us want control, and we feel the need to be in charge of every aspect of our lives, especially at junctures when we perceive that our present circumstances are under the threat of change.

But by practicing the art of allowing, we accept that change is constant. We also accept that control is an illusion. And when we slow down, relax, and simply observe what is happening in our lives, we can also sense how these things make us feel.

We also need to have faith that our instincts (our inner-built compass) will tell us when the time is right to reach out for an opportunity. 

When we do this, we’re truly living in the present. And we open up the scope for lasting and transformational change, secure in the knowledge that our journey is as individual as we are and that whatever comes next is meant to be.

Woman with outstretched arms image via Shutterstock

About Catherine Plano

Catherine is the Founder of the I AM Woman Project. She specializes in helping people to reach their goals and dreams. She is passionate about assisting others to set their ambitions high and to live a life of integrity. Visit her a catherineplano.com.au.

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  • Hi Catherine
    I really resonated with what you said about your head and heart giving conflicting messages. That is one of the primary stumbling blocks in whatever journey we have set our for ourselves.

    That can certainly make it hard to enter into that state of surrender. There is that battle between wanting to trust all will unfold as it should, and all we need to do is keep our intention strong, and that logical part of us wanting to figure things out, take control and make things happen.

    In my own journey of learning to surrender, I have amassed a decent amount of ‘proof’ there is something to that way of being, so it gets easier. It can take time to build it, but once we start being open, we will start seeing small things that bolster the faith and trust. It all starts with a willingness to acknowledged that there is something to that, and we can start to see a shift right then and there.

  • NOt knowing and uncertainty are difficulty, Naomi.

    Just sitting and being comfortable in the unknown is an art to be practiced.

    Sometimes, my mind is insistent on knowing what the plan is when I get there but now a days, I’m trying to let go and tell myself that I’ll get there when I get there and will figure it out when I get there.

    My instincts are pretty spot on but it doesn’t work in the future – it tends to be more accurate and helpful in the present moment – a place I’m striving to be in more.

    Enjoyed reading your post and insights.

  • lv2terp

    Wonderful message, thank you for the reminder! I agree whole-heartedly, and have noticed that this statement… “We also need to have faith that our instincts (our inner-built compass) will tell us when the time is right to reach out for an opportunity. ” is VERY TRUE! 🙂 What a beautiful thing to discover! 🙂

  • This is so difficult to do, and yet so important. Thank you for sharing! I’ve tried hard to listen to the cues of my body – if I’m feeling resistance or feeling stuck, there is often a reason for that and it’s up to me to figure out the clues. I love the idea of listening to intuition. 🙂

  • Catherine Plano

    You are so right Elizabeth; sometimes we can be so distracted by internal thoughts that can make our internal focus difficult. I too experience resistance, I think we all do – I look at resistance as a sign to slow down and turn your focus internally – to listen, look and feel what your body is trying to tell you. That can be a challenge when we live in a fast pace world. My pleasure my dearest sharing is caring 😉

  • Catherine Plano

    You are most welcome darling. I absolutely agree with your statement! To have faith is to let go of control and surrender by giving up any attachment to results. Let all things happen in their appointed time. Thank you for your message 😉

  • Catherine Plano

    Thank you Vishnu for your comment. I agree that uncertainty can be difficult depending on your drivers, if we look at human needs – certainty is driven by assurance to avoid pain and gain pleasure. Uncertainty is driven by variety or the longing for the unknown and change. It really depends on your drivers there is no right or wrong. There are amazing opportunities for us to focus on the present moment – keep up the great work!

  • Catherine Plano

    Beautifully written Kelli! Thank you! Surrender and trust are two big choices that we make in our lives – they can certainly be our gateway or our block depending on our choice 😉 Immense trust leads to surrender.

  • Leah Silver Graves

    Great reminder, thank you. I recently had a job responsibility change when I was no longer traveling 6 months out of the year (after 4.5 years doing so). Now I have learned to relish the few times I get to “fill in” for the new gal on some of my old trips. I let my heart be open to what the Universe had in store and just yesterday I got asked to go on a solo trip to Philadelphia (I fell in love with the Center City section years ago). So I also get to eat at Vedge–one of the best restaurants in the USA. Timely post and wonderful reminder. You can’t be in control all of the time.

  • Don Karp

    Good article on a very under-played topic! My philosophy is that when there are various conflicting opportunities, sitting on them is sitting in a place of power. Once a decision is made, the waveform is collapsed into a choice, and that original power is gone. But is this an excuse for procrastination? Perhaps some form of balance would do here.

  • biff

    absolutely needed this, today and as a whole.. you’ve spoken directly to the element of transformational change that i have been seeking but missing. really, a very simple step.. breaking down the responsive emotion into its basic element, confusion. i see now that this is how to maneuver the small moments.. aka responding to road ragers.. (you know, as an example..! ;). and the fact that it is an art (soo true!) aka a skill, aka practiced, and therefore not every time fully successfull. which leaves room, then, for self grace. many thanks for this.