Losing Control vs. Letting Go

I confess, I like to control my environment. In fact, one of my favorite things about writing is that I can dictate every single aspect of my characters and their lives. If only my children and husband would give me that same power!

Since my 50th birthday this past fall, however, I’ve begun to accept that I can’t actually dominate anything but my own thoughts and actions, and that attempting to extend that reach is exhausting. I finally see the difference between losing control and letting go. I can’t exactly “lose control” over things I never truly governed in the first place, right? Meanwhile, “letting go” means having faith that, even without my interference, things will eventually work out for those I love.

It’s not easy. I’m not always gracious about it, either. It’s hard to bite my tongue. Sometimes things like “Try it this way” slip out. Why? you ask. Well, in my mind, I’m deeply invested in the people I love, and trying to help is one way of showing my love and commitment. But I understand that my habit can be annoying—or worse, insulting—to others. In other words, it has the opposite effect of my intentions. Thus the newfound attempt to “roll with it.”

A potential bonus of my new attitude is that a more flexible approach should also help me remain happy in my career. The publishing industry is in constant flux, which is difficult for someone with my preference for structure. And unlike my former legal career, where you could rely on hard work to achieve certain results, in publishing, you can work extremely hard and still not get to where you are trying to go. Opportunity, luck, and subjectivity play important roles in this profession, none of which are in my control. So, like the beloved Dory advises, I “just keep swimming.”

I assume some of you are like me (controlling) and others are more relaxed. I invite those who fall into the latter category to offer me some advice on how to chill out!



2 thoughts on “Losing Control vs. Letting Go

  1. Eileen Aberman-Wells

    I used to be control-freak mainly because I was raised by parents who were totally controlling people. I learned to let go when I wanted my children to learn things and not do it for them. Yes, it’s very, very hard to stand there and want to take over or to share my precious sewing machine. But there was no other way for them to learn. Plus I did not want to raise my kids the way I was raised, which left me with low self-esteem and confidence. The best thing that happened to reinforce letting go was the best was when my oldest daughter told me that I couldn’t keep them from making mistakes or getting hurt. That they needed to experience it themselves in order to learn how to do things or deal with the bad. I was stunned and realized how right she was. Have I totally let go, no, but I”m getting good at faking it.

    1. msjamiebeck@gmail.com Post author

      Very wise! I know I need to change my ways, especially for my kids’ sake. It’s just hard! But I am trying 🙂


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