3 Signs You’re Secretly Trying to Control Your Life (and How to Let Go)

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For many years I tried to be in control of everything. I obsessed and future-tripped. I tried to force the outcomes I wanted, and I worked hard to make sure things happened on my timeline. As a result, I was overworked, stressed and blocking the support of the Universe.

These are very recognizable ways that we try to control our lives, and it’s likely you can relate to at least one! You can probably name some other obvious ones — like being a perfectionist, micromanaging others and insisting on always being in charge.

We all try to control

Even if you’re not really a Type A person, the fact is that we all try to control our lives in one way or another.

Some of the ways that our need to control manifests are actually quite sneaky and hard to detect! So in this post I’m sharing three signs that you’re secretly trying to control your life, plus tips and techniques for how you can start to let go.

3 signs you’re secretly trying to control your life

1. You sweat the small stuff

Do you get hung up on seemingly minor things? You might agonize over things like…

  • Which pair of shoes to buy
  • The snacks your office stocks in the vending machines
  • What to pack for a trip

Obsessing over the small stuff often means we feel out of control in a bigger area of our life and we’re putting off dealing with it.

I like to say that the small stuff reveals the big stuff. So when you notice you’re hung up on something seemingly petty, that’s a cue to turn inward and ask yourself what’s really going on.

Ask for guidance: Meditate and journal

It can be really frustrating to sweat the small stuff! Often we judge ourselves for getting worked up over something that seems like it “shouldn’t” be such a big deal.

But like I said, the small stuff reveals the big stuff. Meditating and free-writing can help you uncover the bigger issue dwelling beneath the surface by allowing intuitive guidance to come forward.

Learn how to free-write following a meditation here. And if you wish, you can practice my spirit guides meditation to call on your guides for help.

2. You ask a lot of people for their opinions

Do you ask a million people for their perspective before making a decision?

You might do this with really small decisions (like what to order at a restaurant) as well as major life choices.

When we ask for a lot of opinions, it shows that we don’t trust our own intuition. We’re trying to eliminate all uncertainty or risk by having as many people as possible weigh in and offer up their analysis.

Tweet: When we surrender our will to the power of the Universe, we receive miracles. @gabbybernstein #theuniversehasyourback #spiritjunkie

It might be the case that you do know what you want, but you’re seeking out validation and reassurance in order to feel safe. Or maybe you’re scared of a big change and hoping people you trust will essentially make the decision for you.

To be clear, I’m not saying that talking over big decisions with others is a bad thing. Sometimes saying everything out loud helps you get clear about what you want. And sometimes the decision isn’t yours alone to make, in which case you obviously need to involve others.

But if you can’t make a decision without consulting a bunch of people, then it’s a sign that your need to control is coming through.

Make decisions more easily

Check out my spiritual method for making decisions you feel great about. There are some awesome tips in here to help you with big and small decisions like.

Meditation is a powerful tool for strengthening your intuition. Press play below to practice my guided meditation to clear blocks and receive guidance.

3. You check out or avoid dealing with things

This one might seem counterintuitive at first because it involves the opposite of what we think of as controlling behavior. If you regularly check out, defer decisions to others or tell yourself you don’t care, you may just convince yourself that you’re laid-back.

But there’s a difference between being laid-back and avoiding. When we avoid, we’re anything but laid-back! In fact, avoidance is the most insidious way that our need to control shows up.

It’s a way of controlling our fears of failing, feeling disappointed and being judged by others.

Think about it…

  • If you never ask for a raise, you can’t be turned down.
  • If you don’t go on that blind date, you can’t be rejected.
  • If you never start your business, then it can’t fail.

How to stop avoiding and start taking action

Eff it, let's go! | Gabby Bernstein's mantra for getting into actionOne of my mantras has always been “Eff it, let’s go!” This is an attitude of doing something for the sake of doing it. Get into action and don’t worry whether everything works out the way you expected. Even if it doesn’t, you’ll still get four huge benefits:

  1. You’ll take a step away from your ego’s fear.
  2. You’ll free yourself from the constriction of your comfort zone.
  3. You’ll learn something that will inform your next action.
  4. You’ll feel energized and empowered by the fact that you felt the fear and did it anyway.

I also have a few blog posts that will help you get into action and become more fearlessly free…

Do you avoid things because they make you anxious? Check out spiritual and practical tools for handling anxiety.

Do you tend to start things and then drop them? Learn how to follow through on your ideas.

Are you stuck in a rut? Follow my guidance for how to get off your butt and into action!

How to let go of the need to control

The first step to letting go of the need to control is to gently witness that you’re doing it. Honor the feelings behind it. Trying to control is merely a way to resist difficult emotions.

I want to emphasize that it’s important to be very compassionate with yourself. Remember that we all try to control in different ways. What matters is your willingness to change. I honor you for doing this work on your spiritual and personal growth.

I also hope you’re proud of yourself for your willingness to get real! The voice of your ego wants to keep you in the dark, but you’re choosing love instead. You’re outing your ego and laughing at its madness. This is a miracle!

Learn how to release the need to control in my FREE Manifesting Jumpstart Workshop!

Free Manifesting Jumpstart Workshop when you preorder Gabby Bernstein's new book, Super Attractor (attend from anywhere)

On August 11th I’m leading a Manifesting Jumpstart Workshop, and it’s FREE when you preorder my new book, Super Attractor! You can attend this 2-hour workshop from anywhere via livestream video.

Here’s what you can expect:

  • You’ll learn how to stop repeating negative patterns and start manifesting your desires.
  • You’ll discover the #1 reason you don’t attract what you want, AND how to fix it!
  • I’ll give you step-by-step guidance to help you get ready for the powerful methods in the book.
  • And you’ll leave with practices you can start using right away.

This workshop is totally free when you preorder Super Attractor. Click here to secure your spot.

When you think you’ve surrendered, surrender more

When I think I surrendered, I surrender More | Universe Has Your Back Card deck by Gabby BernsteinAs humans, we love to set goals and make plans.

But when we fixate too much on achieving our goals and sticking to our plans, we get in our own way. We become convinced that we know what’s best. We relentlessly pursue the path of our ego. And in doing so, we cut off our communication with the Universe.

This behavior keeps us from manifesting what is of the highest good for all. In order to allow the presence of love to shine upon every area of our life, we must remember that hope never rests.

The pathway back to hope is through surrender. It’s not something that comes naturally to us — it must be a daily practice. The need to control is sneaky. The ego thinks it knows the way, and it does everything it can to keep us in a headlock.

If you’re in need of surrender, begin each day with these words:

Today I surrender my goals and plans to the care of the Universe. I offer up my agenda and accept spiritual guidance. I trust that there is a plan far greater than mine. I know that where there once was lack and limitation there are spiritual solutions and creative ideas. I step back and let love lead the way. Thy will be done.

I hope this blog post has helped you recognize some sneaky ways that our need to control pops up. And I hope I’ve given you useful tools and guidance to let go of that need to control! Leave a comment letting me know if you recognize yourself in these behaviors, and commit to spiritual surrender!

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    1. I’m grateful that this practice resonates with you, Hope. It’s not unusual for a video or meditation like this one to move us to tears. When we remember the truth of who we are, it can cause us to cry tears of relief and even tears of joy. I hope this helps. xoxo

  1. Do you believe in God as the creator and that Jesus is his son. I saw you use to go to Jewish camps as a girl and led a youth group. But I just wasn’t sure based on the articles if you where only dependent on the Universe and energy based spirituality, or if u believed in a Creator and the Christian bible based ideologies. No judgement what so ever in either direction. I was just curious having read conflicting things so I thought I would respectfully inquire and hope to get some clarity.
    Thank u for your time,

    1. It’s my mission to guide people to establish a spiritual relationship of their own understanding. In my Spirit Junkie Masterclass digital course, I lead students through an exercise to craft their own Higher Power Statements. I have my own Higher Power Statement for myself, which begins with the sentence, “I believe that there is an infinite force of love within us and around us.” I encourage everyone to follow the spiritual path that is right for them. What I teach is nondenominational, and it’s for people of all faiths as well as people who are nonreligious.

      1. Have you ever studied Bible? If this is for people off all religions, how do you reconcile it to teaching of the Bible. Where does humbless stands in your value chart? Do you beleive in divinity of our souls?

        1. Hi Basia. It’s my mission to guide people to establish a spiritual relationship of their own understanding. In my Spirit Junkie Masterclass digital course, I lead students through an exercise to craft their own Higher Power Statements. I have my own Higher Power Statement for myself, which begins with the sentence, “I believe that there is an infinite force of love within us and around us.” I encourage everyone to follow the spiritual path that is right for them. What I teach is nondenominational, and it’s for people of all faiths as well as people who are nonreligious.

  2. Hi Gabby,
    I struggle in the evening. My mind focusses on past events. My mind worries and picks on a topic as I try to “fix” the past by making plans. For every event I control by “fixing”, another problem comes up. I wonder if I can let go and surrender to the notion of God always being with me so I can finally live in the moment and not the past or future. Any words of wisdom?

  3. This post couldn’t have been more timely. My husband and I are in the process of moving. When I opened my Inbox to this notice, we were moving toward my husband getting his new job (Pastor of a United Church of Christ Church) and moving to Kentucky. I stopped talking about it, worrying about it and just new the God had this. Now as we await the manifestation of step 3 (selling our current house) I am struggling with control. It’s been a week and thought we would have an offer. Everything is contingent on selling this home and nothing is happening. So for two days, I have relinquished control over what I do have power over (getting work done, eating well, exercising) and focused solely on what I don’t have control over. Of course I am a wreck. So I went back to this post today and surrendering some more. I know that the greater good is us being in KY and leading this very progressive and loving church to sharing God’s love for everyone. I know this to be true, so I am using all my energy to surrender to God everything else and how it all works out – whether we get the buy the dream home we found or not – it’s all up to God. Thanks for sharing these meaningful words and helping me let go.

    1. You are doing exactly what you need to do. Stay surrendered. Pray all throughout the day, anytime you notice yourself detouring into fear. Everything is unfolding as it should, even if it’s not as you pictured. Take a look at my new blog post for ways to stay in the moment when you begin future tripping- https://gabbybernstein.com/truly-live-moment/


  4. I purchased the Universe has Your back last year on audible. I quit my job and moved to Europe in January 2019, which had been a dream of mine for years. I had some plans, but wanted to leave up the rest to the Universe. I wanted to work and travel around Europe. Instead, my survival really kicked in. The work I got did not afford the cost of living in London and was long hours that impacted my health. I recently got another job that “seemed” like the dream position, and what’s occurred is inconsistent hours where I’m left earning nothing this entire week. I keep taking action, applying to jobs, making a budget, etc….and yet it seems nothing is working and my savings are dwindling. I keep trying to give it up to the universe… I listen to the audiobook repeatedly. Journal. Am meditating for the last five days. I feel like I made a HUGE mistake in leaving this job, even though I felt the life being sucked out of me. I just don’t know what to do at this point. My goal is to return to Canada eventually to do my Occupational Therapy masters, and I have been looking at Energy healing courses in Europe to see if I can do this in the meantime as I want to heal others, as well as myself. It just feels like a big mess at the moment. I need to earn money and am starting to feel desperate.

    1. Know that the Universe has a plan for you. Even during this challenging time, return to your inner guidance and trust it. When things feel overwhelming, go neutral and simple. Ask your inner guidance what is one small (or even big) step that you can take today to help you feel safe and grounded.

  5. Perfect timing for this reminder! I’m ready to surrender. Let the miracles begin! I’m so grateful for you. Thx for sharing your wisdom and light. ❤️

  6. I realized through reading this (really a reminder since I read the book) that I need to listen for those answers more…meditate and pray and trust with faith. Your post came at a time when I feel very alone and need to let go and feel God’s love surround me and hold me up. Thank you for being you and your time and effort in helping people connect with God.

  7. And, again..perfect timing! Struggling to control others lives (two adult children in their 30’s) in a way is like a struggle to control MY life. If only they would listen, their lives would be easier (says me) hence making MY life easier..lol. But then I’m such an enabler at the same time! No wonder I’m messed up!
    Really, really need to work on this and this email (and that prayer!) is a reminder to practise! I’ve read Universe Has Your Back and just finished May Cause Miracles. Great books Gabby! I’m really thinking I need to re-read the first one…just to instil this new way of thinking.
    Thank you for continuing to inspire me….and sharing your kindness and prayers.

  8. Thank you so much lovely Gabby! I just finished my meditation and for the first time had a break through that it is time to surrender controlling MY agenda. I am a fierce planner. However it is blocking me. And then I saw your post. I love how the Universe winks at us. You are a gift to this world XO

  9. Thank you for this post… lately I have been feeling spread way to thin and overwhelmed with life. I am currently a teacher, fulfilling as a leave replacement these past two years and it’s the time of year where the unknown of what is to come in September is very real. So here I am trying to control…controlling it all and I believe I am getting sick from this. I’m so afraid that I will not have a job. On top of it all I have so many dreams of the life I want to and will live someday by potentially starting a business or staying in teaching, something. My mind has been going crazy. I know there is so much more and I have been trying to control it. I need to stop this control. So thank you for this post. I’m very hard on myself through it all but reading this helps.

  10. Synchronicity happening for me here. Yesterday was a tough day and I quietly surrendered outcomes to the universe saying out loud that I wouldn’t plan specifics of what to do or what to say, that I’d just use my intuition. Of course we need common sense but yesterday that lifted a burden from me. Today, surprise surprise is your post on surrendering and controlling and I picked up “The Universe Has Your Back” that I’d ordered from the library system. I’ve read it before and its my favourite non fiction book. I’ve read about 150 self help books So thankyou Gabby so much. You’ve made the world a much better place for me with your guidance.

  11. Oh my gosh, perfect timing as usual Gabby. I am such an avoider. This was a timely reminder and so helpful.
    I love your blog, your books and I love my Miracle Membership. xx

  12. Bingo! Thank you from Melbourne! I keep getting cool people and fab energy of late and could overthink the path it will lead to. You send just the right message I, and many others need.

  13. Love your teachings and this one hit home. I’m middle age and I have been a control freak since childhood. Seriously. I feel the relief and the peace available with surrender but it’s still scares the hell out of me 🙂

    1. Beautiful. Keep showing up for yourself and know that on the other side of the fear is more relief and peace. <3

  14. Makes so much sense, but really surrendering is such a challenge for me. Just when I think I have surrendered my control sneaks back in. Still a work in progress. Might go back and reread my book Thank you Gabby.

    1. We are all works in progress. Keep showing up for yourself and trust that inner guidance. Sending you big hugs.

  15. Gabby you have changed my life, I read “the universe has your back” while I went on a trip to USA to compete in a World Championship event in Texas in 2017, where I felt so out of my depth! I took on board asking for help and signs and letting go of control. I had the most amazing experience! Couldn’t have done it without your wisdom and teachings! Any chance you are coming to Australia to speak or do courses? I would love to meet you! Kindest regards Narelle

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