Let Go of Control: How to Learn the Art of Surrender

Let Go

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

I’ve noticed that things go much more smoothly when I give up control—when I allow them to happen instead of making them happen. Unfortunately, I’m terrible at this.

Although I’m much better than I used to be, I’m a bit of a control freak. I often use perfectly good energy trying to plan, predict, and prevent things that I cannot possibly plan, predict, or prevent.

For example, I wonder if my baby is going to get a proper nap when we travel and, if not, just how crabby she might be. I think through her travel and napping patterns, attempting to figure out exactly what we’re up against, as if her sleep is something I can control.

I also think about the weather a lot when out-of-town guests are visiting. I spend my already-limited time planning for every possible weather/mood combination when considering our itinerary.

Like most humans I know, I spend a lot of time in business that’s not mine. The baby’s business, my friends’ business, Mother Nature’s business.

As a recovering control freak, there are three things I know for sure about trying to control things:

1. We try to control things because of what we think will happen if we don’t.

In other words, control is rooted in fear.

2. Control is also a result of being attached to a specific outcome—an outcome we’re sure is best for us, as if we always know what’s best.

When we trust that we’re okay no matter what circumstances come our way, we don’t need to micro-manage the universe. We let go. And we open ourselves to all sorts of wonderful possibilities that aren’t there when we’re attached to one “right” path.

3. The energy of surrender accomplishes much more than the energy of control.

I suspect it’s slightly different for everyone, but here’s what control mode looks and feels like for me: My vision gets very narrow and focused, my breath is shallow, adrenaline is pumping and my heart rate increases.

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 surrender mode, I’m calm, peaceful. Breathing deeply, present in the moment. I see clearly and my vision extends out around me, allowing me to (literally) see the bigger picture.

So the great irony is that attempting to control things actually feels less in control. When I’m micro-managing and obsessing over details, I know I’m in my own way.

The Art of Surrender

Surrender literally means to stop fighting. Stop fighting with yourself. Stop fighting the universe and the natural flow of things. Stop resisting and pushing against reality.

Surrender = Complete acceptance of what is + Faith that all is well, even without my input.

It’s not about inaction. It’s about taking action from that place of surrender energy.

If letting go of control and surrendering not only feel better, but actually produce better results, then how do we do that?

Sometimes it’s as easy as noticing that you’re in control mode and choosing to let go—consciously and deliberately shifting into surrender energy.

For example, when I become aware that I’m in control mode, I imagine that I’m in a small boat paddling upstream, against the current. It’s hard. It’s a fight. That’s what control mode feels like to me.

When I choose to let go and surrender, I visualize the boat turning around, me dropping the oars, and floating downstream.

I’m being gently pulled, no effort necessary on my part. Simply breathing and saying, “Let go of the oars” is usually enough to get me there.

Sometimes it’s a little harder to make the shift from control to surrender. Here are a few questions that can help:

1. What am I afraid will happen if I let go of control?

When you pinpoint the fear, question its validity. Ask yourself, Is it true? If you’re afraid the night will be ruined if your boyfriend doesn’t remember to pick up eggplant (and you’ve already reminded him fourteen times), question that assumption.

Can you really know the night would be ruined without the eggplant? And if it would be ruined (by your definition, anyway), what’s so bad about that?

2. Find out whose business you’re in.

Your business is the realm of things that you can directly influence. Are you there? Or are you in someone else’s business? When we’re trying to control things outside of our own business, it’s not going to go well.

3. Consider this: Would letting go feel like freedom?

It almost always would. Let that feeling of freedom guide you toward loosening your grip.

A Friendly Universe

Einstein said, “The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe.”

I believe in a friendly universe.

Being receptive and allowing things to happen is a skill that can be practiced and improved upon. It helps to believe in a friendly universe—one that is supporting you at every turn so that you don’t have to worry yourself over the details.

We can always choose to do things the easy way or the hard way. We can muscle through, or we can let go of the oars and let the current carry us downstream.

There is a peaceful, yet focused energy that accompanies holding the intention of what I want, but not forcing myself to do it. That energy is magic. I’m still a work in progress, but I’m allowing it to become a habit instead of making it a habit.

Man on mountain image via Shutterstock

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  • Mary Jo

    Thank you so much for this post. This is EXACTLY how I am. I appreciate that you shared your insights and skills of how to overcome this. I will endeavor to practice them.

  • Tired

    I want this to be calming and comforting (and applicable) but right now, it just isn’t. When you have someone (an irresponsible manager) making a decision on your behalf in a professional environment, and that decision is detrimental to you, I don’t see letting go as the answer… It’s a nice thought, but really only selectively applicable.

  • Great post! I can see this being very helpful to those on the road to recovery from OCPD.

    @Tired – what, specifically, can you *do* about your irresponsible manager? If the answer is nothing, or rather, nothing you can think of right now, gathering that stress/anxiety to your chest may actually prevent you from finding the best solution. Letting go *is* hard for those who incline to want to “fix” things, but the reality is, we *can’t* fix everything.

  • Amy

    Hi Tired,

    I hear ya…felt that way many times. The thing is, letting go isn’t necessarily about completely giving up or turning the other cheek or just resigning. It’s simply accepting reality AND THEN taking appropriate action from there. Resisting what is only hurts, always. Fighting the fact that your manager is doing what she is doing doesn’t change anything AND it hurts you. Accepting that this is what it is and then evaluating your next best step from there feels much better. And by letting go, you free creative energy to actually formulate a next step that’s likely to work.


  • Amy

    Ah, I should have read your comment to Tired before I posted mine 🙂 Right on though…holding on and resisting blocks creative solutions. And it doesn’t feel good at all. Thanks!

  • Amy

    Thanks, Mary Jo! I’m happy you could see yourself in me a little. xoxo

  • Path2Peace2Day

    I had just read this morning via your website. Really puts things into perspective. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and productive ways. I am really enjoying the calm your blog brings to me.

  • Tirso Tromp

    Just what i needed to read. Thanks

  • Tirso Tromp

    Hi Amy and Tired, I am going through that right now. Letting go helps me see what is really important and as amy says…helps you makena decision.

    i feel that the universe is telling me to let go of my job. Stop fighting my managers. There should be something else out there.

    it is not easy……as Tired says….

    We’ll see tomorrow…what the new day will bring

  • Lisadnyc

    Great Post!! I have been practicing “letting go” because I have always wanted to control everything in my life. Thanks for sharing and putting it into perspective that when we control we are actually moving against the flow of life.

  • Cocoa Popps

    Thanks for this answer as I was just thinking what does taking action from a place of surrender mean. Does it mean we give up? Does it mean we fight for ourselves but with the right intention? Or we fight but lose first round and give up? Not certain, but certain but glad you clarified that surrender doesn’t mean do nothing! 🙂

  • L Brown

    there is a huge difference in letting go (surrender) and giving up. I am with Tired. I am in a fresh hell dealing as parent, with aging parents whose judgement is failing because of memory failing. The picking of the battle in the moment is huge…

  • Danny

    Hi Amy, I agree with you fully that control is rooted in fear. Fear and our other “unwanted” feelings such as anger, resentment, and anxiety, compel us to control excessively. That’s why it is so important to address and process those feelings early on.

    I explain how to do this in my new book Losing Control, Finding Serenity: How the Need to Control Hurts Us and How to Let It Go. Two important keys to letting go of fear is explained in my recent blog post at

    We believe we need to control to get what we want or need, when just the opposite is the case. We actually gain more control over our lives by letting go of more control over our lives. I have found this to be true whether at work, in love and romance, in our creative endeavors, and in sports and performance.


  • Amy

    Not at all! To me, surrender means do the best you can do and then allow things to unfold as they will. Do your part, then release control over the details like “how” and “when” and “why”. You want a resolution or peace or whatever you want, but you’re not wrapped up in how/what it looks like.

  • As someone with “control” issues, the whole let it be concept is truly beautiful to me. Thankyou.

  • Deanna

    yes very insightful article and much needed advice for me today! and well, everyday!

  • Janschlupp

    Your row-boat analogy contrasts interestingly with Tolstoy’s use of the exact same analogy in “A Confession”. Are you familiar with it?

  • Amy

    No, but I’ll look it up!

  • Anonymous

    Great post! I really enjoyed this and it’s very relative to my life right now.

  • Hey Amy, you are vulnerable!

    Thank you for the beautiful post.

    What is to be like an MCC? 🙂

  • Hey Amy, you are vulnerable.

    When we alow ourselves to be vulnerable, we let go of control and paradoxically we get attractive to the universe. That friendly universe you are talking about.

    What is like to be an MCC?

  • New little things to be learned everyday ! Thanks for this great post!

  • klynn

    I so need to read this repeatedly. I realize that I’m bound when I attempt control and only free when I relinquish control, but it’s truly frightening to let go. The fear of the worst happening is overwhelming sometimes. To be open to what is can seem to be open to pain and disappointment. The thing is, attempting to exert control is exhausting and I invariably feel worse.

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  • Living in Beantown

    Thank you for this article. I don’t tend to control things at work but I do in my personal relationships. I worry too much about how the last guy I dated feels about me and if I do “this” he’ll call or if I do “that” he’ll call. I worry about how my daughter will react in a certain situation instead of just enjoying and being proud of her outgoing nature. She’s an adult. I need to let it go. I bookmarked this article and I’ll be sure to read it again just to remind myself to chill out.

  • Anubhav

    but then if i let go of the oars and turn around, flow with the current, am i not going where i don’t want to? o_O

  • Dushan

    Beats me… I’m facing the same issues over and over again… Like: how does one discern “not wanting to do something” from “fearing to do something”?

  • Jove

    I know what you mean. But when you stop focussing on rowing the boat, you give yourself a chance to see things more broadly, or more objectively. Resting the paddles, you see they are damaged or the other paddles (if you have) are a better fit? Or you see your surrounds and wonder whether where you’re going is right? You might even see a rescue boat behind you but wouldn’t have noticed if you kept rowing! Maybe after all you should go in a different direction you’re rowing? By easing our focus we can broaden ourselves to more possibilities that, who knows, could be better. Sometimes the best things in life come as pleasant and totally unexpected surprises!

  • Nicholls Carol

    I enjoy Amy Johnson’s style of writing, it is easy on the mind and friendly, not commanding.
    Thank you for her gentleness.

    Carol Nicholls

  • Dushan

    Thank you, Jove. I will think about this, but it makes sense. I have a hard time relaxing… 🙂

  • Thank you for this post. It’s so simple but very impactful!

    I can relate to the feeling you describe of ‘control mode’ – it certainly looks simliar to me! I used to be unaware that this is what I was doing, and always wondered why I always felt crappy and so stressed. Now that I’m aware of it, I can recognize the feeling and try to get grounded and real myself back in (keyword ‘try’).

    It’s quite a journey, isn’t it?

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  • chels

    i keep reading this article but it’s so hard to let go. i’ve been disappointed so many times and i’m afraid to let go because i don’t trust God/the universe/whoever to help me be happy. i wish i could let go and have faith in MYSELF.

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  • @8273885cc85881a3178a1d1479da1d0e:disqus Thanks for writing this. I know it is about a month old. I wish I had seen it then… I’m having a hard time of letting go in my own life right now. Specifically my ex girl friend. But I know that if I just let go and let be then I will be happier. IF it is meant to be for us then it will be. I just need to let go of the oars and quit trying to fight. All I’m doing is just exhausting myself

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  • Janie

    I really love the imagery of letting go of the oars. I am from an alcoholic upbringing where control and safety have become equivalent in my subconscious. I have worked on it for years and thought I had it largely worked out, but I have become aware that I still try to control way too much. Your article packs in a lot of punch in a few words. You are so right that controlling is actually being out of control! I have learned that with falling asleep and a number of other areas of my life but still paint myself in to a corner that becomes a jail with all of my controlling efforts.

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  • floating feather

    makes me think of wu wei (action without action)

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  • Anonymous

    “Being receptive and allowing things to happen is a skill that can be practiced and improved upon. It helps to believe in a friendly universe—one that is supporting you at every turn so that you don’t have to worry yourself over the details….There is a peaceful, yet focused energy that accompanies holding the intention of what I want, but not forcing myself to do it. That energy is magic. I’m still a work in progress, but I’m allowing it to become a habit instead of making it a habit.”

    i feel like we might be twins separated at birth, or something like that.

    i’ve been a control freak most of my life, and for about four years, i let this “controled self” control me. nottt fun.

    i get very comfortable with (stuck in) habit, so i tend to try to control things so that they are consistent with my patterns (learned that word from your blog).

    i have finally realized (although i have to remind myself daily) that trying to control things is what causes the anxiety. sure, breaking the habits will unleash a wave of anxiety, but even if that wave is a tidal wave and causes a boatload of damage, it will eventually recede. the damage will eventually subside.

    it’s the control that ensures the waves just keep coming.

    once again, i’ve rambled. but thank you so much for reminding me to just ride the tide. there’s no point in setting guidelines for something that the human mind has no business in controlling.

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  • louise

    Yes I enjoyed this, I still don’t understand it completely… Ok our lives our not in our control so how do we know what we are supposed to be doing in our lives if faith without works is dead? For example do we keep on trying to get a Job until we actually get hired? but if its not in Gods will for us to work at this moment… we won’t get the Job. Its like how are we surrendering and having faith that everything is going to be alright? Ok here is my situation… for a better example, I currently live at home with my elderly grandmother. I provide assistance to her on a daily basis. I’m pregnant.. no cuurent stable income to provide for a child… and with a baby on board it makes no sense to try and work a new job (people usally won’t hire you if they can tell your carring because they don’t want to grant maternity leave so suddenley. Then my family is not supportive of me having a baby so basically all I have is faith and trust in God to lean on. Now is it considered me not having faith/ surrendering because im concerned about our welfare and future? Naturally a Woman is going to panic in a situation like mine being pregnant.. Now if I wasn’t pregnant it would be a lot different but these circumstances are making it difficult to just let go.

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  • Mariffe

    It’s amazing energy when you are able to shift it from control to letting go..

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  • Lv2terp

    This is the second time that I have read this blog…it is wonderful!!! Your definition of surrender is on a sticky note at the base of my monitor for me to see throughout the day.  It is perfect, and has helped me GREATLY! Thank you for  your wisdom and sharing your experience! 🙂

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  • Ready for change

    Feel like a weight as lifted off of me. Its going be a challenge to let go and try to control everything that happens to me but if i ever need help i can always come back to this article thank you

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  • Jenny

    Your blog post has been such a comfort to me.  Thank you.

  • chris

    it sounds almost to easy !! why is it so hard to let go ?

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for this post. I am actually in the middle of something that I tend to micro manage. I am exhausted. The anxiety is paralyzing at times. Just reading this I felt my body relax and my breath deepen. I can relate to #3 and how when attempting to control, my breath gets shallow and I jump from subject to subject, past and present and feel completely out of control. It does stem from fear, fear that if I don’t “handle” it all, my life will fall apart and so will everything around me. I want my boat to float with the river, not paddle hard against it. Thank you

  • James David Perry

    very common psychological response when one undergoes great deal of pressure. They attempt to control life with their minds because they don’t feel safe. It becomes  a habit after a while, and then becomes instinctual. Letting go of an instinct or habit isn’t easy, you should know that. Because one is attempting to control mother nature with their minds, the universe takes control and is much more powerful than you, because you are only a fragment of the universe itself. To one who hasn’t experienced the sensations etc of anxiety this may be harder to understand.

  • Kei

    I feel like this was written for me.I want to be in control, o my life such that i want to control everything,work,relationships.I basically plan fr everything,when um gonna do it,how um gonna do it,and of course it doesnt always work out that way and then i feel frustrated and start thinking of how i could have prevented it even if i know it wasn’t my fault or it was beyond me.

  • Kei

    The most difficult thing for me also is letting go,i dont know how to let go.If i get the grip of this,um sure my controlling nature will dissapear

  • Fabulous, <3 it so much:)

  • Wizard of I

    That so-called irresponsible manager is your personal link to overcome, life don’t provide mistakes, but pathways to one of your present situations. Do you love your intuition enough? NO?  Than learn how to love, accept, and trust yourself before advancing anywhere else in life, cause basically, the only obstacle you or I have, IS OURSELVES!!

    EFT is one of the greatest free tools there is on the internet, learn it, use it!

    and you’ll thank me, and EFT in the future  🙂

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  • Searching

    Thank you so much for this!!  It helps me a lot!!!!!

  • Kim Sheward

    Not A Happy Girl..
    Thank you for writing this Amy! My best friend sent this to me & I really needed to read this today! I’ve been dating a man for a year now & he’s a hugh control freak (tell true, so am I! ) We fight over everything, nothing..a lot! He has a double standard for our situation & I can’t stand the stress. I’ve been afraid to let the relationship go because of my vast fear of the future. The ( I’m 50 ) fear of having to start over, fear of the internet dating interviews, fear of what’s going to happen to me if I do stay with him…I’m tired of being afraid! And the funny thing is, I’m a ridiculously strong, sweet, sensitive, intelligent woman! So what am I so afraid of? Your right Amy, I’m just going to let go & I know the universe will take care of me ! It always does! EVERYTIME! So thanks for writing this cause some times, you just need to see it in print.

  • kc

    Oh & the other problem is, I do love him…I just want us to respect eachother, honor each other and just let go of trying to control each other. It just hurts & I don’t know how to let go of the controlling me. Worse, on afraid the boat will sink if I dont

  • Mimaonfire

    Loved this article! Exactly what I needed today. I keep picturing a canoe going upstream and think – that’s me every day! I will carry that vision with me from now on especially when I get in control freak mode

  • Mimaonfire

    I agree!!! I literally printed it and plan to reread it daily!

  • Raven sky

    Sometimes these gentle reminders really can benefit when you might feel challenged. I loved this reminder.  I know from deep within, that when I just let it all go.. surrender, and truly embrace and trust that all goes well.  It seems the more we struggle and worry it holds up the energy.  I love sharing this philosophy with other’s as I become more conscious of this within myself, I can really sense the struggle within other’s.  I have an intention for the world to truly except this wisdom so more can find peace.

  • andrew

    this make me think of Suzan Moser whos husband is always cheating on her, she has excepted it and looks the other way. she has learned the art of surrender for sure !!

  • DeeDee

    I really enjoyed this article!  I woke up this morning with these words in my head “Stop fighting with life.  Quit trying to make things happen.”  A higher power giving me the guidance that I need.  Then I Googled it and your article came up.  Thank you so much!

  • Unikstuf

    I have been having a terrible time for the past couple of years letting go of a love.  I know he loves me but circumstances keep us a part.  For my own sanity I need to practice this to finally let go.  I am a prisoner of my own mind. 

  • Ndlovunikiwegift

    Thanks for this reading above . Quite helpful and an an eye opener to a character one cannot even realise he or she has

  • Wonderfully vivid imagery Amy…thank you. The application of this philosophy can be tricky at times, and certainly takes some finessing, but the rewards are powerful. Getting a little better at it every day. Jonathan

  • Matt

    This is an awesome article. Thank you. 🙂 …I just wish I felt worthy of a friendly universe. lol

  • Keao10

    I really love this post. It was very helpful for me. I am looking to expand on these ideas. I need to learn to trust, so I can let go of my need to control everything, and thus enjoy my life. Does anyone have any suggestions of books to assist with these items?

  • Stefanie

    Thank you. I realllyyy needed to read all this. Today marks day one of officially acknowledging my inner control freak and actively deactivating her.

  • hitdabox

    Thanks for the comforting words. I am on the verge of moving out of the country and having someone else oversee and manage my business in the states. Never had another manager or been in a place of such needful surrender. I know that I can trust my Lord will never lead us where he does not have everything under control. It just takes faith in remembering that and letting that rule our life. Jesus said his burden is easy and his load is light. When we substitute our cares for his, it is an easy load and I find rest in him.
    Thanks again.

  • ICN

    I consider myself a candidate for being a control freak. I sometimes overthink things and end up being too nervous or too excited and just lose the control that I’m really trying to keep a hold of. I still have this bit in me but I keep reminding myself that in order to get that peace of mind and control, sometimes, I just have to let go. Expect less. Hurt less.

  • jlp

    Thank you for this… helped me realize I DONT HAVE ANXIETY DISORDER …I HAVE CONTROL ISSUES!!! LOL…. wow… not even a counsellor could figure that out for me… boooyaka!

  • wow i find myself out of my depth in everything i need, everything else is easy

  • kayeassc

    Happy Birthday, Amy. Just found your website/blog and really enjoyed reading. I am a follower of Mayahana Buddhism and have many books written by Pema Chodron that I read and re-read. I am 70 years old … and I am always eagerly learning and reading. I have taken care of my children and myself since I was 34 years old so “surrender and release” does not come easily to me. I work on that every day. As I have faced many challenges and still do (for the past year or so the challenges have been intense) I have begun to meditate with a focus on breathing every morning. Surrender and release takes some time to learn by training your mind via meditation. I agree with #14 on your list of things you have learned, but you have to work at that; it doesn’t happen overnight.

  • (((this)))) yessssss. funny how i stumbled upon exactly what i needed, today. this is beautifully written and makes perfect sense. a wonderful reminder. thank you!

  • Saurabh

    @Amy – Thanks a lot for this … Honestly speaking, I am on the same path mentioned above and experiencing the same benefits as well .. Need to go a long way though … But that will be done for me for sure … You know what I mean >>

  • Engela

    Thank you! You have really helped:) I think floating for a while would be nice, instead of trying to row upstream.

  • Carmen Dunn

    This article is fabulous. I’m going to use this with my nutrition clients when I teach them about the physical effects of worrying on the body!

  • Inge

    sounds like you incorporate The Work of Byron Katie…

  • Anna Xiques

    This is great, and absolutely what I needed! Thank you!

  • Olivia

    My name is Olivia, am from Gemany. i want to use this opportunity to thank my great doctor who really made my life a pleasurable one today. This great man DR.NICE OKSE brought my husband back to me, i had three lovely kids for my husband, about four years ago i and my husband has been into one quarrel or the other until he finally left me for one lady. i felt my life was over and my kids thought they would never see their father again. i tried to be strong just for the kids but i could not control the pains that torments my heart, my heart was filled with sorrows and pains because i was really in love with my husband. Every day and night i think of him and always wish he would come back to me, until one day i met a good friend of mine that was also in a situation like me but her problem was her ex-boyfriend who she had an unwanted pregnancy for and he refused to take responsibility and dumped her. she told me that mine was a small case and that i should not worry about it at all, so i asked her what was the solution to my problems and she gave me this great man email address. i was doubting if this man was the solution, so i contacted this great man and he told me what to do and i deed them all, he told me to wait for just two day and that my husband will come crawling on his kneels just for forgiveness so i faithfully deed what this great man asked me to do and for sure after two days i heard a knock on the door, in a great surprise i saw him on his kneels and i was speechless, when he saw me, all he did was crying and asking me for forgiveness, from that day, all the pains and sorrows in my heart flew away,since then i and my husband and our lovely kids are happy.that is why i want to say a big thank you to DR.NICE OKSE. This great man made me to understand that there is no problem on earth that has no solution so please if you know that you have this same problem or any problem that is similar, i will advise you to come straight to this great man you can email him at:

  • RayRay

    Thanks this was a great piece and so true! Being too controlling has a negative impact on our creativity and makes us muster all our energy to get even an ounce of creativity out. It’s better to let it go and usually it makes us see that the right energy finds us quickly.

  • Cijo

    This is reducing my blood presure. Thank you all.

  • Tyric Shuck

    This was awesome!! I myself am a control freak…I am constantly in other people’s business in the way you describe it. I attended a seminar in California this weekend that brought this FRONT and CENTER to my attention. As I generally don’t see much worth in my decisions therefore I act in the realm of not seeing it in others. So I try to control. Thank you for writing this, it speaks to me very clearly!

  • Tracey South

    well, I’ve heard it said that awareness is the first step toward healing a bad habit or way of being….sounds like you are at that point & ready to go on to the next. 🙂

  • Randy Worrell

    Over the last few months, I’ve read my fair share of Tiny Budda articles, often seeking enlightenment and mindfulness. But your article struck such a chord with me! Every word makes so much sense to me – about simply choosing to let go and not fight or resist life so much, to simply ease up trying to control or plan the way my life unfolds, and to trust in the universe. About being receptive and allowing things to happen. Your article has given me a great sense of calm, something I’ve been seeking for a while now. Thank you very, very much for your kind words of wisdom!

  • xtra

    IM NEW TO THIS WHOLE SURRENDER THING, 🙁 IM NOT VERY GOOD AT IT.IVE AS BEEN IN “CONTROL” OF EVERYTHING IN MY LIFE.. NOW THAT “EVERYTHING” IN MY LIFE IS BEING CONTROLLED,, I REFUSE TO LIVE MY LIFE AS A PUPPET… I CAN HONESTLY SAY THAT I HAVE “NO” FAITH IN ANYONE OR ANYTHING.. I USED TO THINK I HAD FAITH IN MYSELF,, BUT I HAVE RECENTLY BEEN PROVEN THAT I CANT EVEN DEPEND ON MY OWN PERSONALITY.. IT HAS TO BE ACCEPTABLE TO EVERYONE ELSE,, OR I FEEL LIKE ILL BE PUNISHED.. I FEEL LIKE A CHILD, IM TIRED OF BEING THE MOUSE IN THE MAZE… I DONT THINK ILL EVER BE ABLE TO SURRENDER “MY” LIFE TILL I GET TO PROUDLY SAY GOODBYE… AT LEAST THAT I WILL CONTROL.. I DONT ACCEPT. THIS WEAK NEW PERSON THAT I HAVE BECOME,, I AM DEAD INSIDE TRYING TO “SURRENDER” and ill miss my kids and grand kids.. my pride just wont let me be like this..i used to be a different woman.. i really miss that woman.. i am surrendering my life in the hopes that my sons remember how strong a person can be and was at one time,, i hope they follow those steps and not these,,, now were is faith wen u need a reason to “be”??? lol.. there is no such thing as “faith” thats just false hope for the people who dont want to “do” anything about thier situation!!! procrastination!!!

  • Tyler


  • Sunraya

    This is a lesson I’m learning about money. I just can’t find a way to make up the difference in what we need. No matter what I do, I’m beating my head against the wall. Surrender and being powerless are difficult for me. The Universe doesn’t seem to care. It will teach me this lesson?:) might as well surrender. I have no choice.

  • cypress

    this explanation brings me such a relief. i have been trying to surrender my anxiety over big and small things that i cannot control with how my ex raises our children. a long road for a recovering control freak!

  • Caroline

    Thank you so much for this–3 years on, it seems! I am only 24 and I spend way too much time worrying about conflicts that haven’t happened and may never happen, be it at work, between friends and I, between my boyfriend and I, between my parents and I…it is exhausting. I am glad to know I’m not alone! My fears range from the serious to the silly, but mostly when I sit down and communicate with the people who love me most, or even the people with whom I HAVE to work, they turn out to be just plain silly. It’s hard to trust, but I know that it’s worthwhile.

    Thank you 🙂

  • AJ

    Thank you!! It really helps a lot! 🙂

  • Jen B

    Amy Johnson you are the best! 🙂

  • Jordan

    Thanks Amy! I really needed this!

  • ewepaksa

    with a woman author writing this, all of this make sense.

  • Cijo

    its very old post, but now i got a doubt. I let go my control and go with the flow. Now if the person near me is a control freak then I am flowing in his control. Will this lead me to failure?

  • Steve A

    I needed this right now. Waiting to hear on a job that I really want (I’m unemployed) and annoyed at the heel dragging the employer is doing. I have other paths I can go down if this doesn’t pan out, but I am allowing my control freak nature and impatience get the best of me. Your image of the canoe going against the river changed to releasing the oars and going with the flow is very powerful to me. Thanks for it.

  • Getenet

    All my life was in the “Control Everything Business” . I was dried-out all the time. I accomplish less than I could, satisfied less than I can be and I am always imprison myself. After all this time, in the last 45 days I suddenly start to take conscious breath twice a day, take things as they are and live life as it happens. No anticipation, no imaginative fear and no failure stories. I am free now.

  • Hedr

    I just came across this article realising I have been controlling my husband in our relationship. For nearly 7 years all I have done is tell him what to do and take charge. This has resulted in me losing him and it is destroying me with guilt knowing I did this to us. I was so fearful of ever losing him that I pushed him away. I don’t know what way is up any more and how to accept it. I have literally lost control of everything I know but I want to work through my problem and not have this need of control. It extends further than my husband but that is my biggest regret. I love the bones of him an how do I deal with hurting him so much?

  • Nida

    You have to figure out if it is desires you want to pursue, or to accept that our creator knows what’s best for you, you just have to stop wanting things that aren’t with your true needs.

  • Fantastic article, Amy! Thank you!

  • jim

    Hey all,

    I hope you find what you need on these blogs and pages. I am very genuine in my well wishes.

    However, I used to find comfort with these sites, self help and guidance. I tried my very best, I followed what was suggested and I kept an open mind.

    Unfortunately it wasn’t until I was hospitalized and heavily medicated that I began to discover feelings of content, happiness, peace.

    I’m not on here to disprove anyone’s work or to bring anyone’s beliefs and lifestyle down. I’m on here to propose another method to happiness and well being. Go to your doctor if your feelings are extreme or long lasting. Have mental illness ruled out before attempting exercises like breathing or meditation.

    I say this because I have been diagnosed Bipolar. Before my diagnosis I used to read about meditation and other exercises to try and boost my self esteem and confidence, try and make sense of my thoughts and try to achieve happiness with what I had and how to appreciate life as it is, but with a serious illness like bipolar lurking behind me and clouding my day, there was no chance in any of this working without medication.

    Like I said, I’m writing this to give someone who is trying everything to be happy, but may need medication, another avenue to attempt and eliminate. Go to your GP and find out if it could be a mental illness that stops you from being happy and free. I lost so much cause I never knew. People that should of supported me just turned their backs.

    I hope this helps at least one person.

    Look after each other.

  • Rebecca

    Thanks for sharing – just what I needed at this moment 🙂

  • VVBS

    I stumbled upon this article during my most confusing and tiresome life chapter to date. I’ve constantly been going back and forth in my head as to whether I should click on the eject button or find a way out because if I don’t I will continue struggling with myself. However, with knowing what “surrender” actually is, I figured staying where I am might actually be worth a shot. Thank you 🙂

  • Dee

    This morning i was so sad bec i felt like i was losing so much all at once. I was crying at my kitchen table lol.

    Then i checked out this page and this article was the first that popped up.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  • Silvia Andrea Méndez

    OMG! This is perfect for me right now. Thanks, Amy! I am a control freak, and I was trying to control my future with so much strength I ran out of energy and got sick. This has been extremely helpful in this right moment. I am going to take a “planning ahead vacation” and spend more time celebrating the present. <3

  • Cristina

    So what if you’ll feel pain and disappointment from time to time? It’s natural, that’s life. If you let go, it’s a sure thing that sometimes you’ll be happy, sometimes you’ll be sad. But if you worry all the time about everything, you’ll be unhappy all the time. What do you choose?

  • runnergirl

    Never ceases to amaze me how articles on this site just happen to show up when I need them to…lol. Loved this article and loved the analogy of being in the canoe. I know both feelings and have tried to let go of the oars and just go downstream…that feeling of being free is amazing. Thanks for the article–a fantastic reminder that letting go often leads to happiness, freedom and fun!

  • Marnie Griffiths

    This is an excellent article Amy! Your description of how you feel in control mode is spot on for me too. Wow, well written and so relevant – thank you!

  • karen

    Thank u fantastic article!

  • Danii Turnbull

    Funny how much credit we give ourselves for actually even having the power to control events or circumstances. Letting go of having to control every detail is truly liberating.

  • ShiftingConscious

    I realise that this article is reasonably old now, but I want to thank you for uploading this. I realise I’ve put pressure on myself to remain as happy and open-minded as possible which I see as an ego now. I must surrender to and embrace my emotions so I can find answers that will lift me higher. This post allowed me to see that so thanks!

  • Dale-Lyn

    Great article. And I do agree: surrender is an art that takes a great deal of sloppy strokes to perfect. We live in a world where our egos reign and ego is all about control. Letting go comes much easier to us, I believe, when we recognize that what we cling to, so tightly, is often something we don’t need. Thanks for sharing.

  • Beth Gallagher

    Thank you so very much for this post! It was thrown in my path for a reason today, and I needed to read it. After a hell-like past 2 yrs. with my ill daughter, I feel like I’ve spent the entire time trying to paddle this boat night and day against a very strong current. At this moment, I realize that my own fear is driving me and it isn’t helping to paddle so hard. Hoping that the bit of post traumatic stress I have will also dissipate with time and lack of stress fuel! As of now, I relinquish the oars and will go with the flow. Really, thank you!!!

  • I feel you! Especially on the baby front, as a new mum.

    We cannot control others. We cannot control outcomes. We can only control our own actions and hope for the best.

    <3 🙂

  • FightingToBeMe

    This has opened my eyes to how i can regain control without trying to sieze it myself. My girlfriend and I had a sort of fallout. We’re not broken up, but we’re not together either. She decided she needed a break for a week; maybe longer. Not from being in a relationship, but from ME. She told me I was self-absorbed, overhelming but most of all I was controlling. I gave myself a wake up call and she’s either going to call me this week or whenever she feels she wants to. I’ve got a terrible habbit, that I’m unfortuantely very good at, of being manipulative and explaining my way out of a situation and ending it all in my favor and how i want it… I want to stop that because that’s what pushed her away; and I believe this article just gave me the tools to accept the issue and let God do His work in my life. I just need to learn how to accept those tools and use them.

  • Andy

    Wonderful piece Amy! My experience is very close to what you described. We need to let go and let things happen. Terribly tough but extremely liberating! When we are furiously paddling, we often miss out a lot of scenery.

  • Mike Paul

    Great article – things generally go better for me when I have been taking this approach even when doing it unintentionally. More recently I have been chasing outcomes and getting attached to them and worrying about them and my whole quality of experience has changed for the worse. Coming across this article is a timely reminder. Thank you

  • Mosaic

    Hi Amy, I was laughing through this article as if the wiser and more vulnerable me has just jumped out of me and decided to spill the beans on the internet. Damn, you girl this goes on my regular read now !

  • mauricedharris

    I just read this now – 4 years after it’s publication. I don’t know that anyone will see my comment. I’m someone who is drawn to follow this advice, but I care deeply about a number of social/political issues, and I come from a tradition that teaches the importance of caring about injustice and working for change. Basically I have one question. How do you work for change on causes you care about, while at the same time adopting a habit of acceptance and trust no matter how things go? I worry that I’ll shirk my duty to do “enough” work for the causes I believe in if I focus on acceptance. And yet, I acknowledge that how I do things now isn’t working. I’m often obsessively worried about what might happen in the wider, political world, and I recognize that part of what’s going on is I’m trying to assert control over future events that I care about but that I, in truth, can’t control.

  • Hello all! 🙂

    This is an amazing article. I am completely aware of all these from years since i myself follow the path of spirituality and i am also a vegetarian. Unfortunately i am not conscious enough because i am a constant thinker.
    Basically, a control freak. I meditate often, i live a healthy lifestyle but still nothing seems to fall into the right place.
    I don’t know where am i doing wrong or how to let go. Is there any special trick for that?

  • Anonyme Anonyme

    From all the fears I have in my life, I just realized this morning while reading stuff on the web that they all come into my control issue. My fear of abandonment, rejection, death, flying, terrorist attacks, rollercoasters, and even my feeling of unworthyness, etc. I’m so grateful for this article. I will try to do number 1 as often possible. Thank you for giving clear examples, I felt I could relate and help me transfer the knowledge to my own experience.

  • steve

    Hi Amy, thanks so much for this post. I’m suffering from anger and revengeful thoughts to my daughter for what I perceive as betrayal (even I know it isn’t really but it’s a knee jerk thing :-))
    In full control mode I love the idea of turning the canoe around and stopping paddling. But I’m terrified of the speed of the river down stream and having little control over this.
    I have a feeling my response to Einstein would be hostile …
    How can I turn this around? How can someone with major childhood trust issues turn around and decide that the world really is a safe place?
    In any case your article has touched me greatly and I’ve just contacted my daughter to apologise for reacting badly, for being an arse amd trying to let go …

  • Trish

    You could stop being a judgmental asshole. That may help.

  • Jeanne

    Lovely article! It really helped me to understand myself better.

  • Helen Hall

    Hello Amy
    I have enjoyed reading your article on control. Last year I had a work photo taken
    I have just recently looked at it. I analysed
    The photo with disappointment. I thought the photographer would have pointed out how to pose and achieve a good result.
    I had 4 shots . Accepting the outcome is the big challenge for me. How do I manage this feeling. I am quite critical of myself.
    Kind regards

  • Brittany

    I seriously love this so much. I am a huge control freak of my own life. Recently, I’ve been trying to control what career path to choose (looking into Master’s programs) and I’ve been driving myself crazy. I realized, after reading this, I really do need to just let go… spend some time getting to know myself, and it will come to me, instead of trying to force it…
    Thank you!

  • Paulo

    Im new to this .. so forgive me for the black and white thinking ..

    Does this mean I should stop planning my life ? And just be a victim of whatever happens in life ? ..

  • Kiki

    That last line was awesome… thank you.

  • shilpan dutta

    This is really a lovely post. Very helpful and liberating. Thank you. Om Shanti.

  • Kelene

    Thanks for this!!! Right time and right moment to read this. I just wonder (among other 1,000 questions about how to apply this in daily life), where is the balance between let things happen and let go of control? I mean, if we don’t take action, then nothing is happening. For instance: I took the action to buy a flight ticket to see the person I love as a way to set my intention to the Universe: there might be challenges between us, but my intention is to be open to it. If I let go of control, then I would have waited until he buys it, and he might have been thinking the same…What are your thoughts?

  • Yes it’s important to take control of your emotions and situations in life without giving them the power to control your life.

    It’s ok to get carried away sometimes with your emotions there’s no harm in that but not always I suggest keep working in the right direction without much expectations, expect but don’t keep it very high and also keep your emotions in check life will be become little easy and peaceful.

  • Black Bart

    Surrender to win….

  • Myke

    Thank you for the article. I’ve been working on letting go of control for a while now and it’s a continual work in progress for me. I loved the example of the boat either against the flow or with the flow. When I read about “dropping the oars”, my body physically relaxed and the tenseness I was feeling in that moment went away. I’m going to use this thought going forward… thank you for that!

  • Rick Pog Mo Thoin

    I’m a 50 year old Man who is finally coming to terms with myself and who I have become. I am a miserable Man, because of my lack of self-worth, self-loathing, inability to develop and continue healthy relationships with others, and definitely because of my anger issues and emotional outbursts. I’m finally realizing how broken I am and trust in others has never been a strong suit with me. But I find myself here. Reading this article and a few others. And I so desperately want to surrender. I don’t want to die like this. I want to LIVE… not be angry.. and the anger is with myself.. I have finally looked within.. and I don’t like what I see either. Anger Management therapy I’ve self enrolled and have completed nine weeks of the twelve week program. But that is just a start. I want zen. I want the negative energy stripped away. I want to live in Hawaii, desperately, but with my current state of mind and attitude, I would be either beaten daily, killed, jailed, or moved off the Island. I could use some constructive advice. Sorry for sounding like a whiner.

  • Donna Muree Spivak

    It sounds like you are exactly where you need to be. Question how you came to be where you are. I bet you already have. Sounds like you are waking up and your path ahead is lighting up for you. I wish you the best; you deserve it.❤️

  • sumsweethoney

    I really needed this today 🙂 Thank you <3!

  • HEOM35

    I currently don’t like the way my life is going. I have a job I don’t like, I’m 25 and I can’t get my life started, I’ve always been bad at school due to ADHD. Now that I’m actually trying to do good in school, I struggle a lot and I have dropped out of a lot of college classes. Every time I drop out of a class my life gets worse, cus the Depression gets worse. I hate that I couldn’t be born in a family that would’ve helped me move forward when I was a kid, instead they’d put me down for not doing what was necessary and for constantly making mistakes. I still love them, but I have a strong resentment toward them. I try to control things because I’m in emotional pain and depression sucks, but last night I decided to surrender to whatever life had to offer and falling asleep was very easy, and I felt very good. I said in a low voice, “want this Depression to take me, go ahead take me, you want me to live a good life it’s fine too.”

  • Jackson_Angel

    This may sound SIMPLE, but it is describing a person that has had control of the goings on in his/her life since Birth.

    I on the other hand have not had Control of my life~it was and is being CONTROLLED by Cartels and MAJOR ROADBLO KS put into place causing me to be basically driven into a relationship of TOTAL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, which then was followed by his Incestual Pedophilia.






















    I MAY BE A DERR~CARTEL, BUT I REFUSE TO HAVE MY FAMILY LIVE BY YOUR S.O.P.’S(Standard Operating Procedures) , WHICH WERE CREATED BY S.I.P.O.S.(Self Important Pieces of Shit).