Sometimes in life, you feel like you don’t have the ultimate control. You feel like a puppet on a string that wants to break free, but doesn’t know how. It’s really quite simple.
A serenity prayer sums it up pretty nicely: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”
In order to gain control over your life you need to let go of your bad patterns, especially these ten.
1. Toxic people
In my opinion, this is probably the most important one. Why? Because toxic people can cause all the things bellow: worries, violence, revenge, guilt, judging—and the list go on. There is a good book by Dr Lillian Glass called Toxic People. I suggest that you read it. It gives you countless example on how people can affect you, how to deal with different levels of toxicity and who the toxic people are: a friend who back-stabbed you in order to get your job, a boss that destroys your self esteem, or a mother that always puts you down. There are 40 types of toxic people that can destroy you. Do yourself a favor: unplug.
Worrying is useless. Being cautious is not. There is a fine line, so make sure you do not cross it. When going on a trip, it is smart to prepare for all eventualities, but worrying will only make you miss out on things. You can’t prevent accidents from happening by worrying. Sometimes you may even cause them. So our advice is: don’t worry; be prudent.
Violence tears you up inside. It is a backlash of being unhappy and it is really difficult to let go of. But you must. There is no recipe on giving up violence, but by letting go of the things that make you unhappy you will also get rid of the need to cause violence. Here I’m just going to quote Dr Martin Luther King Jr: “Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.”
Revenge may be good, but not the “an eye for an eye” type. As Frank Sinatra said: “Success is the best revenge.” All the other actions will make you the same as your attacker. Sure, it’s good to give people a taste of their own medicine, but by doing so, you may become like them.
What is guilt? It’s an imposed feeling that comes as a consequence of your wrong actions—or the actions that you think are wrong. Think about it, and you’ll see that there are two things you can do: correct your actions, or acknowledge that you can’t and let go.
6. High expectations
When I say high expectations, I don’t mean that you should drop out of school and work in a bar, I mean high expectations in general. Don’t expect a concert to be great. Just go and have fun. Don’t expect your son to be a great football player just because you were. Let him choose his own path. Have expectations, but don’t blind yourself with them.
Jealousy eats you up inside. It will not make you a better person, and the person you’re jealous of may not even know you exist. The best way to get rid of it is to use it like a catalyst. Rather than being jealous of people, make them a role model. Distill what it is you’re jealous of and try to achieve it.
8. Pleasing others
Here I’m just going to quote the wonderful Paolo Coelho and his book The Alchemist: “If someone isn’t what others want them to be, the others become angry. Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but none about his or her own.” Forget about pleasing others, they do not live your life, they do not know you, they won’t bat an eye if you’re unhappy. Forget about being the person they want you to be, but rather, be the best person you can be.
9. Judging people
Pleasing others is tightly connected with both judging people and having false morals. We judge people because they do not fit in our vision of what they should look, speak, behave and think like. If you don’t want to be judged, you have to stop judging.
10. False morals
This one is my favorite. False morals are pure hypocrisy. Oscar Wilde said about false morals, “Morality is simply an attitude we adopt towards people we personally dislike.” The purpose of morality is to teach you how to live and enjoy yourself. Complying with false morals is wrong. It will not touch you, it will not heal you—it will make you miserable. When you dig deep behind it, you will only find that they are the consequences of judging people. Unplug.
Some people believe holding on and hanging in there are signs of great strength. However, there are times when it takes much more strength to know when to let go and then do it.