Stop The Need to Control Everything
Inspiration - Motivation

How to Stop The Need to Control Everything

Do you enjoy planning each one of your days ahead? Are you one of those who always wants to be in control of everything? Losing control and letting go of the need to control everything are different. In this post, we will go through some basic steps on how to stop the need to control everything. 

Stop The Need to Control Everything

These last few days I spend them on the beautiful island of Ikaria. Ikaria became internationally noted through an ongoing health project called Blue Zones run by Dan Buettner. According to this project, the island is one of the few locations in the entire world where people live such long, balanced lives. The main reason behind it is mostly the lifestyle of its people, as well as owning rather than being owned by time.

During my short staying here, I have met people from all over the world who left their jobs and their whole life and moved here to live a totally different life. The rhythms everything is moving on this island are totally different compared to how people live in the big cities.

All of them confessed that the biggest lesson they learnt and still learning here is how to let go of their tendency to control everything. I can understand how tough this is since their previous lifestyle trained them otherwise.

One thing you can do to stop this need to control everything is to quit everything and move to Ikaria. But don’t do that. It will get too crowded. After all, you can always visit for a short seminar.

So, what can you do to stop the need to control everything? 

How to Stop The Need to Control Everything

1. Identify Your Fear Behind Your Need for Control

The human need for control is deeply connected with fear. People feel the need to plan and prepare because they are afraid of what might happen if they don’t. And although setting goals and planning your way forward is a good thing, extensive planning is not.


Stop Your Need To Control

You might want to prepare yourself so that you can overcome every single obstacle that might appear in your way. You are afraid that if something remains unplanned, there is a huge probability that things will mess up and you will look weak, less capable, not trustworthy, whatever.

Most of the things that we are afraid of are not even real. Most of them are just stupid ideas living inside our minds only. Identify your fears and choose to overcome them.

Read also: 11 Best Tips to Help You Stop Procrastinating

2. Identify Whether Something is Within Your Control

Not everything you try to control is within your control. A big example of this is the weather. People have this tendency to get mad when the weather changes their plans, while what they can only do is adjust their plans based on how the weather is.

Trying to control things that are out of control is pointless. We can only do our best and control ourselves and our actions, responses, and emotions. We can control neither the weather nor circumstances or other people. Identify whether what you are trying to control is actually out of your control.

“Incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over instead of craving control over what you don’t.”

Steve Maraboli

Read Also: This is How Slow Living Benefits Your Life

3. Understand Whether Your Need to Control Controls You

The need to control everything takes so much energy and demands great effort and mental engagement. Over-planning can become an obsession that can only harm you instead of benefit you. When you try to control things that are out of your control, you become a slave to your obsession. Instead of having control, you are being controlled by it.

Read Also: 6 Reasons To Stop Looking For Your Purpose in Life

4. Question What You Think Might Happen if You Lose Control Over Something.

I used to have this stupid way of thinking that there were certain things I used to handle that if I wouldn’t plan them and expect them to happen in a specific way, I would disappoint certain people, they would blame me, and nobody else could do them, etc. However, If I had to recall similar moments in the past, nothing really terrible ever happened.

The same stands for most of us who over plan things. We worry too much about a terrible “what if” scenario that might never really happen. Truth is that in most cases nothing terrible will happen if we just let a few things escape our control.

Read Also:  What Nobody Tells You About Life – 20 Facts to Know

5. Understand That You Assume a Specific Outcome is the Best Outcome

Most of us plan and try to take control of our lives and what is happening because we believe we are sure about what the final outcome will be. We are sure that if we work hard for three years, we will get a promotion, that we know what is right for us. 

Truth is that whatever we aim to accomplish, we hardly ever know the outcome or whether it will end up as everything we thought. How could we ever be sure about something we have never experienced yet? 

Read Also: How to Recharge Yourself Emotionally – 8 Ideas to Help

6. Sometimes Let Go Of Control is What Can Accomplish the Most.

Have you ever tried to swing against the water flow? It exhausts you and you hardly move a few meters. It is amazing though how far you can go when you do the right opposite. There are things in life that are out of your control.

Stop The Need to Control Everything - Acceptance

All you can do is accept that they exist and there is nothing you can do to prevent them. In these cases, do not get obsessed with trying to control them. Just let go of control and go with the flow.

Read Also: What to Do When Plans Change? Accept it and Adjust

7. Stop Living in The Future

When you try to control everything you are in a constant status of thinking what you will do and what the outcome will be, Constantly being a control freak and trying to control everything that might happen means that you spend most of your life living in the future. 

Yes, planning is important for your personal growth and human progress. But life happens now. Do not spend all your time living in the future and just stop trying to control everything.

Read Also: 8 Useful Tips to Gain the Power of Building Consistency

8. Show Some Trust

I believe you can recall moments of your life when things got out of control. When you wanted something totally different from what eventually happened, but yet for some “magical” reason, things turned out to be even better than what you originally planned.

It may seem like I believe in luck or something like that, but quite the contrary. I do not think that it has anything to do with luck. Sometimes just because the things do not turn out the way we wanted them to does not mean that they did not turn out as they were supposed to.

Read Also: 4 Approaches to Show How to Find Beauty in Imperfection

Final Thoughts on How to Stop The Need to Control Everything

We all feel this need to control ourselves and the future. However, for things that are out of control, all we can do is to accept them. The world will not collapse if we allow things to happen which are out of our control. And guess what? They will happen either way.

Control only what is within your control and learn to accept all the rest.

“Have big dreams but focus only on what you can control: your own thoughts, words, and actions. This was Gandhi’s way … in the words of Buddhist poet Gary Snyder, our job is to move the world a millionth of an inch.”

Eboo Patel

What about you? Are you a control freak, or do you already know how to stop yourself from the need to control everything?

I would love to read your thoughts in the comments below.

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59 thoughts on “How to Stop The Need to Control Everything”

  1. At one time, I was a bit of a control freak. Then a cancer diagnosis taught me that, no matter how much you want to, there are things you can’t control. Since that time, I am much calmer and more relaxed. Definitely one of the silver linings from the whole experience.

    1. Oh, sorry to read about your experience with cancer. I hope everything is ok now. This kind of experiences definitely are life changing.

  2. Great post. I have found as I get older i have chilled out much more and the need to control has naturally dissipated. I think maybe because experience teaches us, things can turn out ok even when they don’t go to plan.

  3. Haha I do feel like I like to control everything, so this was relatable! Covid was a nightmare for people like me- and it can be so hard when you always feel the need to control life (when that is impossible). Thank you for sharing this post x

  4. I love the weather analogy. I don’t get angry at the weather, but definitely know people that do. I wouldn’t say I’m a control “freak” but I have to admit to needing to maintain a little control in my life. I’m a worrier and get anxious about some things that I find are alleviated when I do the planning. In my professional career, I was a planner, so it’s something I’m accustomed to. But, I also love when other people make the plans in my personal life… to an extent. Great post. Several points hit close to home.

  5. Great post. Some time I feel like I control everything. I am learning to control this as it can get a little annoying. Definitely going to try your tips. Thank you for sharing.

  6. Great tips, I used to live in the future before. Just imagining myself already living my dreams. And it wasn’t good idea. Then, stopped and started living the moment.

  7. I’ve always had an issue with this. I’ve always wanted to be in control of everything – and it’s only lately that I’ve had to hold my self back and remind myself that not everything is in my hands.

  8. Fab tips! It was really interesting to hear about your time in Ikaria and you have some really helpful advice here. Control is something I’ve had an issue with for a very long time and I think learning that you can never really know the outcome is a really important point, as is just being in the present more. Thank you so much for sharing!

  9. I can totally relate to this as I’m a bit of a control freak myself, but I’m working on it. In my CBT Therapy, my therapist used to call them ‘safety behaviours’ things I would do to stop me feeling out of control. Meditation helps. Great post, thanks for sharing.

    Jade MumLifeAndMe

  10. All good questions Eri. Plus this post feels timely, too. I made some key changes with my blog for the past 3 hours but felt the control freak anxiety in me arise strongly. However, after taking a break and a few deep breaths I feel better. Off to do some yoga now.


  11. Great blog. It’s hard to manage the need to control and letting go of that need requires practice and patience. These takes on it definitely help us rethink it and come up with ways to make things differently. Thanks for sharing!

  12. Excellent post once more, Eri.
    As someone who is interested in Stoicism, this comes right at the heart of it and you have worked it beautifully. Control plays a big part in reducing stress and with less stress we can live longer.

  13. I really needed to read this today. I literally keep having break downs panicking in case something goes wrong in a future scenario that hasn’t happened. I need to remember I can’t control that, but I CAN control this moment. I don’t need to get ahead. Thank you for the reminder.

  14. This blog post reminds me of the famous prayer: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change and the courage to change the things I can”. I never associted the need to always control with FEAR. I have worked with Managers who are a control freak. I thought they were projecting thier insecurities, but your blog gave me a different perspective on people’s need to control. Thanks for sharing.

  15. I’m not a control freak but I am having to learn to let go in one particular area; I was my husband’s carer for that last few years as he went through his cancer battle. Now that he is doing so well (it feels AMAZING to write that), I no longer need to do so much for him (which is wonderful). I have to stop myself now from trying to do everything so I’m unlearning that. Your post was really useful — thank you!

  16. Great topic; I feel like this is something a lot of people have been to therapy for – including myself. When I was in the midst of my anxiety disorder, the need for control was – ironically – uncontrollable.

  17. This is something that I struggle with a LOT. I’ve always had a strong desire (or need) for control and hate change or anything I can’t manage fully. But you have some really important input on this topic here. I appreciate the advise and perspective!

  18. I much prefer to be in control, and luckily most things I’m able to. But having a child has made me a little more relaxed, and my role at work means I need to bring people through experience to increase their skills and responsibility so I’ve had to learn when to leave them to it. Situational leadership is a skill in itself!

    1. I couldn’t agree more with you Emma that situational management is a skill. Thank you for reading and commenting 🙂

  19. I am so connecting with this piece because my past self was very controlling! I needed everything to be just so and the minute anything went against my plans, I simply could not deal. This is an incredibly unhealthy mindset and it was a very negative place to be, so growing out of it and learning to be more flexible was a huge shift for me! 🙂

    1. The need to Control Everything is an absolutely unhealthy mindset. I am glad you find your ways to become more flexible. Thank you for reading and commenting Jaya!

  20. It’s really difficult for me to let go of control. To let others take the lead. It’s gotten much better tho.. I agree with a lot of your tips! I’ve never heard of Ikaria. Maybe I should go and check it out 🙂

  21. This post spoke spoke me. It’s like you were pointing me out on every point you made and you know what, I’m going to learn to let go of the need to control everything. This was so great to read. I’ll go ahead and pin it so I can remember. Thanks for sharing.

  22. I have had to let go of a lot of my desire to control things with my younger brother, as I was always so anxious that he would get made fun of or be disliked that I would try to stop him from saying and doing certain things. I had to learn that the people that are truly worth being around will accept all of who he is, and not just the person I tried to “perfect”. Great post!

  23. I’ve never heard of this island, but if they’re able to live on the right side of the work/life balance, then I’m jealous. Also, only try to control the things you need to that are also within your power to do so

  24. Great post. It really resonated with me, as I like to be in control. For me, being unprepared is a scary and lonely feeling. Will people (strangers, loved ones) show up in my time of need, is my biggest concern i.e. your car breaking down in the middle of a busy road. However, certain places, like the beach, allow me to relax and relinquish control.

    Crystal |

  25. This was truly enlightening to read. I think because I’ve experienced a lot of worst case scenarios over the years, the need to control and plan things is something I feel is deeply rooted and it has become really hard to let go of. The desire to control feels like a potential safety net, and sometimes thats all people have. I wish letting go of things was as easy as letting them in.

    1. Happy to read you found it enlightening. Sometimes this potential safety net is just an illusion though. I am also guilty of letting lots of unnecessary things in. Thank you for reading and commenting 🙂

  26. I love to be in control, it’s one of my bad personality traits. I’m learning to let go and to go with the flow sometimes. Good post!

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