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One book that has completely changed my life is Gabrielle Bernsteins’ The Universe has Your Back. One of the main themes of the book is releasing control to the Universe – Gabby encourages us to be “in the flow” of the Universe and trust that everything in our lives is happening for us not to us, and it’s happening for a specific reason. Listening to these words, I felt nothing but empowerment, joy, and trust in the greater Universal force that she speaks of.
However, there is one big problem – I am NOT a “go with the flow” type of person.
I need to have a schedule in place every day. I want to know what time we are leaving for dinner and what the name of the restaurant is so I can look up the menu in advance. I want to know which hike we’re doing, the name of the trail, the number of miles, and the anticipated hiking time. I want to know what we are doing on every day of a vacation. I need flights booked well in advance. I want to be the leader of every project and know how everyone’s contributions are progressing.
I am a control freak.
Or maybe I can now say that I was…
I’ve always admired people who were the “spontaneous” type. They seemed to be so much more chill, stress-free, fun, and “go with the flow”. So, if I were to take Gabby’s advice and release all of my controlling habits to the Universe, I had to get on this “go with the flow” train, and fast. Because of my desire to control everything, this includes controlling the fulfillment and joy I find in my life. If this concept of “trusting that the Universe has my back” was going to improve my life even more (and I am naturally a very happy person and rather satisfied with my life), then I was ALL IN!
Now after having read this book about 7 months ago, I can proudly say I am way less controlling and way more ~flowy~…read below for my 5 tips for releasing control and achieving maximal flow.
1. Create a mantra. I meditate for a few minutes every morning, and I repeat a few mantras to myself while I stretch in my bed (usually still under the covers if we’re being real). These mantras change daily from “You are awesome” to “Today is going to be the best day ever” to “You are smart and capable of accomplishing stellar grades”. The one mantra that has remained constant almost every day though is “The Universe has your back, and I am in the flow with the Universe”. They always say, fake it till you make it! And saying these words in your head or out loud (no matter if you truly believe them yet) will do huge things for your mindset and life.
2. Breathe. Many times when things are not in my control, I get super frustrated and annoyed. WHY are my classmates not contributing to the project? WHY did my friend oversleep and make us late to brunch? WHY is this freaking plane delayed?? None of these things are actually in my control…at all. So what is the point in wasting time, energy, and stress on a pointless mind game of asking WHY UNIVERSE, WHY. In these moments, I take a pause – breathe deeply, and trust that everything is happening the way it is meant to.
3. Ask yourself “so what?”. So what there’s a ton of traffic and you’re late to yoga? – you can warm up on your own and there’s always another day to do yoga. So what your plane is 10 minutes delayed – you’ll get there eventually and your safety is the airline’s #1 priority. So what your little brother can’t decide what to wear so you’re late leaving the house – at least you have a family. Now, I know sometimes these life annoyances that are out of our control can lead to pretty detrimental events – missing a connecting flight, getting a bad grade on a standardized test, unnecessary stress and sleepless nights. In these moments, it’s okay to freak out a little bit, but remember that the Universe is on your side, not playing against you.
4. Travel. Studying abroad may be the top influencer in my new “chiller” composure. So many things were out of my control and planned last minute…we went to Bali, Thailand, Uluru, and up the Gold Coast with zero reservations for restaurants or activities; some hotels weren’t booked until a week pre-departure. And guess what? Those have been some of the best trips of my life. Things will assuredly not go 100% according to plan when you travel. Experiencing these bumps in the road and handling them without stress, blame, or freak-outs has drastically improved my ability to go with the flow in my everyday life.
5. Be fun and spontaneous on purpose. I am most definitely still a bit of a control freak, and when my plans get disrupted or “messed up”, I still get a little annoyed. That’s just in my DNA. However, planning to have a “no plans” day or trip has become super fun for me! I love adventuring, and sometimes the best adventure days happen when there is no plan in place. Forcing myself to be spontaneous for a whole day or week has helped me embrace the “unplanned” spontaneity that occurs all the time, stress-free!
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Yes, I truly believe that the Universe has my back. I also believe that I have gotten pretty good at releasing my controlling behaviors to the Universe. I am not perfect, nor have I mastered this ability yet…and I probably never will! It is something I am actively mindful of and practice every single day. Bringing more ~flow~ into my life has helped to ease my anxieties, reduce my stress, and improve my trust with myself and the Universe. So – fake it till you make it, and start loosening the reins…the Universe will take it from here.