Learning to Let Go for the Girl Who Likes Control

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Learning to Let Go for the Girl Who Likes Control

a woman meditating By Ellen Brenner, Certified Aromatherapist

Time for a little truth-telling.

I am a recovering control freak.

You may ask how that can be when my passion and focus are all about creating a life of peace and calm.

My answer would be “Exactly!”

Let me explain.

Before my path seeking peace and calm, I previously sought a sense of security. But, striving to sate that need meant chasing false prophecies fed by deceptive beliefs.

This served me mentally and emotionally for a large part of my adult life. It was how I supported my need to stand on my own two feet. I was the classic overachiever.

I believed that it could control circumstances impacting my life by how well I prepared or performed, I could create a state of stability.


I was wrong.

  • It didn’t stop a job from going downhill no matter how well I performed or how much I produced:
    • Because a new boss created a hostile work environment for the entire management team.
  • It didn’t improve my marriage, or ultimately change the ending, no matter how hard I tried:
    • Because I was married to someone who was emotionally abusive.

But, I still didn’t get the message. While those situations were disheartening, they didn’t dispel my illusions, and so I continued down my path of disconnection.

With both of these situations occurring simultaneously, I experienced seismic shifts to my sense of stability and security at both work and home.

A prolonged persistence in trying control external circumstances took a toll on my physical and emotional health by creating more stress in addition to the stressors themselves. My thinking was akin to trying to keep a boat from rocking on storm-tossed seas by just bearing down hard enough to hold it steady.


a 2018 planner on desk

While these two examples illustrate significant issues, the same was happening in the smaller facts of daily life. I believed that doing an excellent job on my part would create a constructive outcome. But, here’s the kicker. I actually had no control over how others participated in my internal narrative and expectations.

In our culture, we are raised with the conviction to take charge of our own destiny. But, in too much quantity, taking charge becomes trying to take control. And, if we are a Type A overachiever, with a deep-seated need for a sense of security, this is exactly what can happen.

When trying to cope, we can cross the boundary from the determination to get things done to a place where our imagination leads us into magical thinking. Once this becomes deeply ingrained, we begin to see the world through the lens of these self-limiting beliefs not realizing our perception becomes our reality, but perhaps not actuality.

Persistence on this path can lead to an ongoing sense of frustration, anxiousness, and stress. My physician, treating me for a stream of serious conditions, warned me I was heading for a significant crash in my health. I made the connection between stress and health, but I still didn’t understand the core obstacle to my wellbeing or what I could do.


a woman at a computer looking stressed

That leg of my journey launched a few years later after I literally hurtled off the highway at a high rate changing the trajectory of my life. While that experience was traumatic, it also served as a reset in how I lived my life. One, of the most significant ways, was setting the stage for the lesson in learning to let go.

As, part of my rehabilitation, I also needed restoration from the emotional aspects of the accident. Trauma shakes you wide open. Turns you upside down and empties out all the hidden crevices. If you choose, this process of breaking down can lead to breaking through.

And, so, my odyssey from seeking safety and security to pursuing peace and calm began with this simple, yet profound statement from my healer:

Control is an illusion.”

Wait! What?

It took me more than a moment to wrap my mind around this concept.

Psychology researchers define the illusion of control as “the tendency for people to overestimate their ability to control events; for example, it occurs when someone feels a sense of control over outcomes that they demonstrably do not influence.[1]

 This was my missing link. My “aha” moment that my ability to cope with all the ups and downs in life had been built on the illusion of control. Though I was standing on my own two feet, it had been on shaky ground. Only when it shifted so significantly, could I see the elusiveness of my perceptions.

Awareness brings forth core issues to our conscious mind, where we can choose to change our thinking. Yet, while the light bulb went on in a blinding flash of the obvious, it can take longer to rework the hardwiring of our deep-seated tendencies. Though it is several years later, I find myself still working against type when faced with particularly stressful situations.


a woman walking into the sun on a forest path

So, learning to let go remains on my list of self-care practices to enhance my overall wellbeing. And, as with all conscious wellness, this sense of mindfulness is the key to creating new pathways. When I wander off the path, I can get myself back on track. It is temporary versus a static state.

When we are working with the psyche, aromatherapy can serve as the perfect partner with a potentially significant effect, especially when we wish to create change in managing our minds.

In fact, inhaling the scent of essential oils makes an almost immediate and direct impact to the part of our brain where we process and store emotions, behavior, stress and associative learning helping us to create new connections through scent association.

You can read more about that here:

Learning to Let Go

For me, there is no magic bullet to changing deeply ingrained beliefs. It is a matter of rewiring the brain through mindful practices I have learned along the way.

Rather than working singularly, these steps piece together creating new patterns that put me on the path to peace and calm by replacing the pursuit of elusive control.

And, truthfully, I have needed to become more proficient in each part of this practice so that one step more easily leads to another. Now, when faced with challenges, it all rolls as a flow. If I get stuck letting go, I rewind to the first step and start again.

Each of us is unique in our own needs and beliefs. I share my practices with you to inspire what is possible even for a recovering control freak like me.

a woman meditating 1. Cultivating Calm

It is difficult to do anything when my brain is triggered into fight or flight mode. Taking some deep breaths is always a first step in telling the brain all is well. This interrupts the stress pattern and allows me to reset from the reactive to the proactive mode.

You can read more about that here:

2. Quieting My Mind

Once I create a sense of calm, it is important to further quiet my mind. Meditation plays a major role for me, even if it is a short period in the moment. This allows me to interrupt current thought patterns by placing my focus on my breath and perhaps an affirmation. Introspection also allows me to cultivate a deeper sense of discernment by listening to my own intuition rather than a record on repeat embedded in my mind.

You can read more about this here:

3. Managing My Mindset

Remember, that we see the world through our own set of learned beliefs, but beliefs can be changed. In fact, we have the ability to rewire our thinking and rewrite our journey. Additionally, it is important for me to recall that I may not have control over external stressors, but I do have control over how I manage my response within my internal environment. This requires a softer stance and a sense of flexibility to roll with change when we don’t have control. I see this as the difference between resilience and persistence.

You can read more about this here:

a woman embracing the sunlight

4. Letting Go

For me, this is a two-part process that requires all the awareness and discernment from above for an apt assessment. I have recently learned about the concept of “light hold.” For me, this means remaining aware of a situation that may ask my contribution while understanding the circumstances are likely outside of my control. I may share input personally and professionally with others, knowing I have done my very best, with the understanding I am not ultimately responsible for the outcome. This realization promotes an immense sense of relief.

Ultimately, simply recalling the concept that control is illusion serves as an important reminder to let go of that which is actually elusive. Like trying to hold onto the air. And, sometimes, we get stuck in the muck with that perception because it bothers us as a sense of giving in.

Jack Kornfield, noted author and Buddhist monk defines it this way:

To let go does not mean to get rid of. To let go means to let be.”

This “Letting Be” frame of reference truly resonates with me. And, this insight provides a sense of release leaving my sensibilities in a place of peace.

I can partner “Let it Be” as an affirmation with my aromatherapy synergy, in any and all parts of the self-care practices outlined above.

I love this particular synergy for the benefits it offers for the psyche in working through this particular process. Because inhalation is the most effective way to impact the mind, I would suggest adding it personal aromatherapy inhaler, your diffuser, or an aromatherapy diffuser locket.

ease release synergy Ease and Release Synergy

This synergy helps to cope with the transition during stressful situations and encourages a willingness to change with courage and confidence. It can promote the clearing of energy blocks and the mindful release of challenging emotions with a sense of acceptance and compassion.

Helping us to reconnect our conscious with our unconscious mind, it supports our ability to tap into intuitive for direction. Grounding to the spirit and calming to the mind, this synergy can help to ease emotional worries, invite positive energy and promote a sense of peace. [2]


What you’ll need:

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[1] “Illusion of Control.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 16 Sept. 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illusion_of_control.

[2] Keim, Joni, and Ruah Bull. Aromatherapy & Subtle Energy Techniques: Compassionate Healing with Essential Oils. CreateSpace, 2015.



62 thoughts on “Learning to Let Go for the Girl Who Likes Control”

  • Wow! What a great blog. Thank you for the reminders of Letting Be and Managing Mindset. These are wonderful tools. I am looking forward to ordering the oils needed and trying out the ease and release blend.

  • Ive been using “Let it go” oil and that helps me along with meditation of course as the article suggests.

  • I am type A to a T. I am trying to learn how to let things go and not worry so much and that is why I am leaning about OEs. I wan to use them as part of my self care

  • Great post and one I could use lately, between work, holidays, and just life. I really need to learn to let go and relax. It doesn’t have to be perfect and it’s not always on my shoulders.

    Thank you! Can’t wait to try the blend too.

    1. My family is finally moving back to the US after living abroad for three years, courtesy of the military, and there are so many things about this move that are completely out of my control! I searched the blog for something to help my mental state, and this is so helpful. I even have all of these oils on hand already!

  • My personality is definitely ALL you described. I’ve pretty much excused it by telling people “Oh, I’m a typical Type A” or “my Meyers Briggs personality test has always showed me as an ENTJ…it’s just who I am!”. Having kids KIND of helped mellow me but not really…I still find that controller in me fighting to come out ALL THE TIME. Thank you for addressing this in a blog post, and giving helpful hints on how to kind of relax!

  • How timely that I found this. I am definitely a type A personality, and have been trying to teach myself to let go a bit and take some time for self care. Such a struggle for me.

  • Excellent article. I have been working on these things myself for awhile. I try to take an “it is what it is” standpoint on things. And I love meditation! I also took up yoga for the first time this summer and could not believe how much I love it. I still have much work to do and appreciate the wisdom!

  • I love control so I will try this blend. Its always good to use oils to control emotions. Emotions can take us all over if were not careful.

    1. Oh, yes, emotions can certainly takes us places we don’t want to go. But, the good news is we have many practices that can help us manage them instead of letting the emotions manage us. I hope you like the blend!

  • Thank you for writing this post. Great article with great resources in it. I’m trying to get back into meditation, so hopefulyl this will help give me a push. The blend sounds great, but I haven’t ventured into black pepper yet. maybe I’ll put it on my wish list for Christmas! Is there anything else I could maybe substitute for it?

    1. I am so glad the post resonated with you! It sounds like you are taking some amazing steps on your wellness journey. Once I discovered Black Pepper, I couldn’t live without it. There are so many uses for it through both inhalation and topical applications for mind, body and spirit. I absolutely need it in my achy back blend. It has a lovely scent (it isn’t sneezy like its ground counterpart) and blends well with so many other oils. You could try adding petitgrain to the synergy. It is going to change the scent profile, but I think it would be lovely.

  • Thank you so much for sharing this. I have so much trouble letting go. I love the quote saying that letting go doesn’t mean to get rid of, but to let be. Powerful stuff!

  • This really touched my heart, and I’m sure so many of us can relate. Thanks so much for sharing, really enjoyed reading this and connecting on deeper levels. Wonderful tips and cant wait to try your blends 🙂

  • This reminds me of one of the first blends I bought from PT- let it go. It’s the perfect blend to use at the end of the night when my anxiety starts to take over.

  • Truly a great (and timely) article for me. I really loved that definition of control and the steps for us to let go a little more and not cause more stress when we think we are “in control.”

  • The “illusion of control” is a big issue in our society. I often tell people that we are not in control of our own lives and they argue with me. People are so desperate to believe that they can avoid the horrible things that they see others going through that they will willingly become delusional. We do not have control. There are far too many things that are beyond our control. The key is to focus on what you can do, not on what you can’t do. I trust God to take care of what I cannot. I also do not beat myself up if I make mistakes. Mistakes are unavoidable. Accept it and go on.

    I continue to actively preach that sayings and ideas that sound good can be false or even downright harmful. Just because something sounds good or “positive” (since when did life become all positive?) that does not make it true or useful. We need to carefully consider what we allow ourselves to swallow without question. Some of it is poison. We need to think, not just go by what feels good. Let go of the notion of control. Be grateful for what you have and don’t worry about things you have no control over.

    1. Thank you for sharing, Yvonne. I had to smile. My dad always said “Don’t focus on what you can’t do. Focus on what you can do.” But, yes, it does become easy to be deluded into thinking what you “can” do! One of the keys for me was really understanding I have no control over how others participate.

  • I suffered a sustained workplace trauma by a new boss that targeted me to the point that my therapist feels I have the symptoms of PTSD. I am still after 6 years trying to let it go.

  • Love this! Thank you! I sometimes have a strong sense of wanting to control things and your tips will really help me stay level headed when those moments occur!

  • Thank you for sharing your story. The quote you shared is particularly powerful “To let go does not mean to get rid of. To let go means to let be.” Wow, this thought has really impacted my mindset and I am going to come back to in in frustrating times where I feel a loss on control. Thank you!

  • Thank you for sharing your story. While not a traditional Type A I can definitely relate to the need to control. As my children fly the nest and my life rearranges I will need to remember that Let It Go just means Let it Be. And to just start with a deep breath.

  • What are the farms you get your oils from? Do they use chemicals in thier farms? Are chemicals used in distilling of plants?

    1. Cathy, we source our oils from many different farms across the world. We do our best to source our oils from the countries which they are indigenous to. Plant Therapy works very closely with our farmers to ensure that we have sustainable practices in place. We do our best to purchase oils from organically grown plants where no pesticides are used. In many cases the smaller farms/distillers simply cannot afford the cost of becoming USDA Certified Organic, especially those outside the US. However if you want a guarantee that they are organic, we recommend you purchase from our organic line of oils. We do also have a line of USDA Certified Organic oils.

  • Thank you! I am a total “Type A”, this blog was written for me! I love that it was educational and not just a “how to make this yummy blend” (although I like those too).

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