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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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:
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.
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. 
- 6 drops Black Pepper Piper nigrum
- 6 drops Cypress Cupressus sempervirens
- 3 drop Neroli Citrus x aurantium
What you’ll do:
- Add 15 drops for your personal aromatherapy inhaler
- Add 5 drops per 100 ml of water to your diffuser
- Add 1 drop to your aromatherapy diffuser locket
Cautions: None Known.
 “Illusion of Control.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 16 Sept. 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illusion_of_control.
 Keim, Joni, and Ruah Bull. Aromatherapy & Subtle Energy Techniques: Compassionate Healing with Essential Oils. CreateSpace, 2015.