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Dara Chadwick
Dara Chadwick

The Struggle to Let Go

Our bodies become battlegrounds in the fight for control.

If I asked you to name what you consider your greatest character "challenge" (notice I didn't say flaw), what would you say? For me, I'd say it's my need to feel in control.

I'm not actually in control, of course. But more often than not, I find myself struggling to feel like I am. Whether it's insisting on the end-of-aisle seat at a movie theatre (so I know that my leaving will be unobstructed at any time) or imagining any number of horrific scenarios (so I can work them through in my mind, of course, and know exactly how I'll respond), my need to feel in control of myself and my circumstances has a significant impact on my life.

For a long time, my need to control was directed at my body. From the foods I put in my mouth to the daily workouts I subjected myself to, I was most definitely steering the ship and no one - no one - could change that. Just yesterday, a friend and I were talking about kids and food, and how eating can easily become a huge power struggle between parent and child. Our bodies become battlegrounds in the fight for autonomy and control.

For the last month, I've been attending a great yoga class taught by an instructor who encourages us to honor the limitations of our bodies on any given day and to let go of the need to push ourselves toward some unattainable (for us) standard of what we think we should be able to do.

What a novel concept: To follow my body's lead instead of trying to strong-arm it into submission. To encourage, but not push. To suggest, but not insist. To gently shape and re-direct instead of accepting nothing less than a goal of total transformation.

The instructor asked each of us to come up with a mantra to use during meditation, for when the mind inevitably begins to wander. Mine is "Let go" - a concept I'll admit is often foreign to me. But in those moments of deep breath and a whispered "let go," the palpable relaxation is an amazing feeling.

The road to acceptance - whether of our bodies, our life circumstances or our capabilities - can be rocky and filled with twists. But learning to let go of the need to control, of unrealistic expectations or any of the other ways that we keep ourselves from accepting who we are reminds us that at any moment, we can choose to begin the journey again.

If we just let go.

About the Author
Dara Chadwick

Dara Chadwick is the author of You'd Be So Pretty If… :Teaching Our Daughters to Love Their Bodies—Even When We Don't Love Our Own.

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