Looking at the test results, the Doctor leaned toward me, putting his hand on my knee and said, “Joan, I need you to know you can die from this.” “That’s crazy!” I thought – “I’m not physically sick…just feeling a little run down.” So began a journey of learning what a huge toll heartbreak and grief take on us when we don’t learn to let go of the things we can’t fix, change or control. Personal freedom lies in letting go!

{Read Joan’s Book Excerpt below}

When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” ~Victor Frankl

Learning to let go of all the things in life we aren’t responsible to fix, change or control is critical! This is one of the most challenging disciplines in life and clearly one of the most important. It affects every aspect of our lives from: fuel prices, cost of living, job, business, family, friends, economy, politics, natural disasters, global concerns, to our personal health.

It’s so freeing to say, “I get to…let go of that which I cannot control!” Though very simple to say, it is a bit tougher to actually apply. Especially when it has to do with those we love most—just ask the parents devastated by their teenagers’ suicide or one’s spouse who suddenly demands a divorce, revealing unfaithfulness.
Besides personal experiences and observations, I’ve heard hundreds of stories from people feeling responsible to pick up the pieces of someone else’s dysfunctional thinking, addictions, co-dependencies and various disorders. Because we love them, we want to fix it and make things better for them. But we can’t! Only they can.

I love what Gary Smalley shares about this concept in his book, The DNA of Relationships (2004), which he entitles The Power of One:

“Take Control of Your Thoughts, Feelings, and Actions.”
Whenever you focus your attention on what the other person is doing, you take away your own power. You make yourself weak. In focusing on the other, you try to control things you can’t control. For that reason it’s an exercise in total futility, inefficiency, and ineffectiveness.

How much better to have some say in the matter! How much more effective to take control of something you can actually control! When you focus on yourself rather than on the other person, you vastly increase the odds of being able to enjoy some impact and influence over the relationship problem that bothers you.”

To accomplish letting go for good, it takes intentional and purposeful thinking, often doing it over and over again—for however long it takes. Otherwise, we naturally slide back into whatever habits and patterns are most familiar.

From personal experience, I know that if I dwell on those things which I cannot fix, change or control, it not only doesn’t improve the situation, it feeds the ugly giants of fear, worry, anxiety and stress—rendering me completely ineffective and keeping me from being the best I can be.

~Serenity Prayer~

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” ~Reinhold Niebuhr