Relinquishing control has always been a big challenge for me – you know, just “letting things happen." I’ve spent lots of time and energy trying to control fate, and then banging my head against the wall when things didn’t go according to plan. And when I say, “banging my head against the wall,” I really mean calling my best friend crying, or cleaning everything in sight in an attempt to regain some control in my life.
And there’s one area where I've consistently played tug-of-war with the universe: dating.
I even showed up once to a concert that I knew a certain guy would be at, and then let him believe it was fate that we both ended up at the same show. How could I tell him I saw his facebook post and showed up simply to confront him for not having called me? I know, super creepy. This move paid off in the short term, but not surprisingly, that one didn’t work out so well in the end.
I only started realizing just how bad this need to control things was during my first few life coaching sessions in Spain. I was at the retreat after a few months of traveling, and really getting in touch with myself for the first time, maybe ever. My coach and I had dug really deep into my subconscious that day, and I felt like I had finally gotten the lesson to relinquish that need for control. I remember looking at my coach with that “I’ve totally got this now” kind of certainty, and him reminding me that the universe will test me – to not expect this to just be smooth sailing. Yeah yeah, I thought. I got this.
That very night I got a text from my Belgian, aka the guy I’d met on the first stop of my trip and had been hoping to see again ever since. I’d spent a lot of time and energy fretting over his next text or email or when we’d visit. Despite his elusiveness, I had managed to pin down a date for a long weekend together in Greece. I was elated; I could finally relax knowing that it was in the books, and look forward to this super romantic rendezvous. But his text that night - just hours after my coach told me to look out for tests - blew all of that up. My Belgian had a work trip come up over our designated weekend; we wouldn’t be going to Greece. Oh, and, where was he going? New Jersey. My home state. This guy had never been to the U.S. before, and now here I am on his turf, and he is going to mine. WTF.
It felt like a big slap in the face from the universe, and I totally freaked out. I called my BFF crying, but I wanted to SCREAM. I questioned his honesty and motives and even googled his company to see if his story checked out. And then I remembered what my coach had said, and I recognized the test I was being given, and saw myself failing it. And somewhere in the wee hours of the morning, I let go. I had rung out all my anger and hurt and had truly surrendered to this situation – all I could do was accept it, and take the lesson with me.
Fast forward almost a year later, and my Belgian and I were still in touch. We spoke almost daily and had visited each other a few times since those Greece plans had fallen through. I had a wedding coming up of two of my very best friends in Colorado, and had it set in my mind that the Belgian would join me for the wedding, even though I had never mentioned it to him before. When the invitation came I asked if he could attend, and it was a pretty clear cut “no” since he had to work and Colorado is a pretty long flight from Belgium to take for just one weekend. It was of course a reasonable answer and I accepted it as such. I felt almost confused, because I had been so sure he’d be there with me, but I calmly sent my RSVP without that +1 box checked.
Just two weeks before the wedding my Belgian got word that he’d be flying to Texas for work right away. He’d be staying for a month, and of course his weekends were his to do with what he pleased. So, my gracious friends squeezed him into the seating chart, we booked flights and rental cars to get him there, and he attended the wedding with me. He was not only a great +1, he was a total hit at the wedding! Everyone loved him, and it was just as I’d imagined it all those times I was so sure he’d be there with me.
These events were largely driven by his crazy work schedule, but I couldn’t help but believe that the universe was rewarding me for learning to chill the f*ck out. This pattern continued, as the two of us met in Barcelona just one month after that wedding and discussed our future. I wanted to move to Europe, but he wasn’t ready for that kind of pressure on the relationship. As the long distance thing was no longer serving me, I chose to let him go. Just one day after our long tearful goodbye, I was feeling resolved in my decision when I received an offer to work at the retreat in Spain. I’d be moving to Europe after all, just not as I had originally planned; it was actually better for me and my path, since this deal was Mediterranean-adjacent, with a paying job and housing and both personal and professional development opportunities.
I kept getting this same lesson over and over again until I finally got it – and I am returning to these lessons this week because the universe is asking me to play tug-of-war at a time when I need to stay laser-focused on myself, and I'm not having it. By recognizing the tests we are given, we can laugh at them and accept the challenge; we can rise above it and pass the test, proving we are ready for that next level - where we finally get the thing we’ve been reaching for and trying to control.
So if you’re wondering why you keep repeating the same patterns in dating or jobs or personal goals, look at how you’re approaching them. If you keep reacting in the same way, you will get the same result. Look for the lessons and let go of your need to control all the outcomes. Keep your focus on yourself at all times; everything else will fall into place exactly as it is meant to. You don’t need to pull any puppet strings, you don’t need to control fate, and there’s really no use in getting upset when things don’t go your way (not to say you’re wrong for doing so, I mean you're human) because you’re just being redirected to the right path. Trust the timing of your life; anything you have to force is not worth having, and is simply not meant for you.
What's the thing that you keep trying to control but seems to always backfire? Share in the comments!
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