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Letting Go Of The Need To Control


The need to control is not unique to those of us who have come to live in a chemical dependency upon drugs and alcohol. Our need to control is uniquely manifested, without question, but the need to exact control over our lives, as well as over people, places, and things in our lives, is a universally human experience. Endless factors in our lives are outside of our ability to control.

Unfortunately, many of us experience traumatic events in our lives which only exacerbate our feelings of being out of control. Alcoholism and addiction spin out of our control, along with the many entanglements of a deep and intricate web weaved through lies, manipulations, and other attempts at control. However, all the people, places, and things we try to maintain control over usually end up very far out of our control and in a mess.

The Big Book refers to this in a famous passage about how the alcoholic is much like an actor who is trying to control every area of a stage production play. As the authors point out, “The show doesn’t come off very well. He begins to think life doesn’t treat him right. He decides to exert himself more. He becomes, on the next occasion, still more demanding…” Consequently, matters slip even more out of the actor’s control and the actor becomes more frantic attempting to maintain control, and thus the cycle perpetuates. Is the problem that the actor is simply “bad” at running the show? More accurately, the problem is that the actor is trying to be the director when “Director” is not the actor’s title or role.

“Our actor is self-centered-ego-centric…” the authors explain. His self-will and obsession with maintaining control for himself are what propels his thoughts, actions, and behaviors, despite their effect on not only himself but everyone else around him.

Eventually, the actor has to realize that control is not theirs to be had.

The only way to regain a sense of control, which is really a sense of manageability, is to let go of the need to control.

Learning we don’t need to be in control is a life-changing moment in recovery. Once we learn we don’t need to be in control, we can let go of our need to control and turn our trust, our will, and our self-proclaimed right to the Director’s chair to those who know more than we do. We develop faith that everything is happening as it should and we sit back, happily participating in the show, rather than trying to run it.



Origins Behavioral Healthcare is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance abuse, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We offer renowned clinical care for addiction and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting sobriety. For information on our programs, call us today:  561-841-1296.

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