True Freedom–Letting Go of All Attachments

By Ken Wells - 09/28/2021


Series Two; Blog Sixty-Eight

The castle that provides our security also walls us in.” – Unknown

Sometimes people think that being in control gives the freedom to do as you wish. This does not square up with the results for those who obsess about being in control. People think that if they have enough money they will have control of their lives through financial security. Yet, the greater your need for security and the greater your dependence upon material possession, the less freedom you have. The things you rely upon become binding chains and you become your own jailer.

In recovery, addicts grasp for control. They declare they will do anything to avoid relapse. They establish a white-knuckle grip to avoid backsliding. They double their fists in an attempt to not let go of control. Usually this closes their heart to the possibility of freedom. Recovery requires an open heart. Letting go of control is a counterintuitive measure that makes no sense to a recovering addict. It feels like free falling because it is.

You must be willing to take a leap of faith and let go of controlling results.   Free falling requires an open heart in believing that your Higher Power will free fall with you. You will land at the only place you can control which is being true to your heart. You can marshal behaviors that ground you and bring you back to center.  However, you cannot control the results that come into your life in any appreciable way through your own will power. There must be a willingness to let go of control. This is a difficult step in recovery to embrace.

Here are steps to consider to let go of control by opening your heart through surrender.

  1.  Stop trying to make things work out the way you want them to. Ego prevents this from happening. Recently, I listened to a person lament that his daughter was not responding to a request that he made. She flatly said no. This upset the complainant and he grumbled that after he paid for her schooling and made numerous other sacrifices in her behalf, she had the audacity to tell him no to a simple request. He walled himself from his daughter and seethed in disgust and shame. He was trying to control what he could not. She simply did not want to do what he requested she do. He fretted and stewed and complained that she was being non cooperative for no good reason. Only when he determined to let go of control of the results he wanted was he able to let go of his anger. What he most wanted was to have a connected relationship with his daughter. A simple amends brought life and relationship with his daughter back to center. Many times you cannot work things out the way you want them to work out.
  2. There are addicts in recovery who do not trust their Higher Power to take care of them because they are too busy taking care of everyone else. This keeps you from focusing on yourself.  Have you ever had the experience of telling others how to care for themselves, believing you were right but not adhering to the same advice you gave someone else? This missed focus is designed to escape facing your need to address your own concerns. When you allow yourself to get caught up with someone else’s distress, it is often a sign of your own personal issues that you want to avoid.
  3.  Trying to fix someone else’s problem prevents you from identifying through empathic listening. People tend to want to fix problems by throwing money, advice, or prayer at their problem. When money is the answer you walk away telling yourself that you are glad the problem is over. When someone gives you advice that makes sense, you feel a sense of resolution. I have often wondered how many times advice given is agreed to but never implemented.  When prayer is answered by way of a desired outcome we tell ourselves that divine intervention made the difference. However, many people don’t really want the solution as much as they would like you to identify with them through empathic listening. This can only occur when you let go of trying to fix the problem and focus on identifying with their struggle.  Solutions achieved from empathic listening empower the one with the problem to care for self. The challenge is to let go of trying fix others.
  4.  True freedom means that we detach from the critical voice that drives control. We grow up in families that instill mistaken beliefs that block intimacy and stifle destiny. The operational messages that you are not enough, can’t measure up, and are flawed come from a critical voice that has existed since you were young. You did not come into this world with critical messages tattooed in your mind. You learned them. You will now need to unlearn them and give them back to those who gave them either verbally or by the way they treated you. True freedom is conditioning yourself with truthful affirmations and challenging the critical voice with positive truthful statement about your destiny. This will require training and practice.
  5. True freedom is celebrated in community. Detaching from control is most likely to happen in a healing community among those who have the same struggle. Addicts learn to let go of control and all unnecessary attachments in the confines of their 12-step community.  We are creatures who need each other.  St John of the Cross once wrote “The virtuous soul that is alone and without community is like a lone burning coal; it will grow colder rather than hotter”. True freedom is established in the context of others. Letting go of the attachments that bind you in your own emotional prison requires the hope of others who have struggled with the same issues of attachment.

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