07/25/2014 05:55 pm ET Updated Sep 24, 2014

A Reminder to Stop Forcing Life and to Start Living It

I'm a recovering control freak.

There, I said it.

This means that sometimes I want to force life to be the way I want it to be. I mean, I'm the gal who spent four years trying to make my relationship work, even though I knew three months in that my ex-boyfriend and I were a terrible fit for one another. (What can I say? Control is my idol.)

Recently I learned yet another lesson about control. A few weeks ago, I applied for a scholarship to attend a training I was super excited about. I just knew deep down in my heart that my application would be accepted and I'd be awarded the opportunity to attend the training of my dreams... for free. I honestly could not stop daydreaming about it.

Imagine my surprise when I never heard back about my application. Man, I was pretty bummed.

But rather than control freaking out, like I tend to, I trusted that the Universe had something better in mind for me. It's taken me twenty-nine years to realize this, but now I know that sometimes, rejection can be a gift.

So instead of forcing life to be the way I thought it should be (following up with the scholarship coordinator and begging her to SHOW ME THE MONEY), I focused on accepting reality as it actually was (my husband and I planned a trip to visit our nephews instead).

I knew I couldn't control the outcome, but I could control my reaction to the outcome.

So I did.

And thank goodness I did. A few days later my husband was admitted into the hospital and was discharged after a whole week of care. I soon realized that had I received the scholarship, I would have been flying to a different part of the country at the very same time he was experiencing excruciating pain and other scary symptoms. In hindsight I truly believe that God/the Universe was protecting us. I can't even imagine how terrifying it would've been to be separated from him during this crisis.

I'm glad I don't have to.


Here's a novel idea: perhaps life isn't about getting what we want, when we want it, especially since our awareness is often so limited. Perhaps life is meant to be lived, not forced.

I used to be that girl forcing circles into squares, all because I feared what would happen if life didn't work out the way I wanted. When life didn't cooperate with me, which was pretty often, my inner control freak would try to take over. Very rarely, however, has my inner control freak ever been successful. Probably because control is an illusion.

Unfortunately, I know I'm not the only one who struggles with this. Too often I receive emails from women all over the world who also struggle to leave relationships, friendships, and other situations that do not suit them. Instead of trusting life to unfold as it should, they are desperately clinging to the known, terrified of the unknown.

They are forcing, not living.

If that's you, I urge you to take a step back and examine the underlying fear that drives you to force and control what you cannot. (Therapists, counselors, and coaches are really good at helping people do this.) Find a way to deal with your control issues so you can experience freedom and truly live. Accept that life might not work out the way you want because maybe it's trying to protect you from some catastrophic outcome. And realize that clinging to fear, instead of facing it, is probably keeping you small.

Living is so much better than forcing. And you? You deserve what's better.

I hope you believe that.

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