These commentaries are written by Barry Brownstein. I am a professor of economics and leadership at the University of Baltimore. I can be reached at barry@givingupcontrol.com

This blog begins with the understanding that the “good things” that we seek in life are obtained by allowing the order that is inherent in the Universe to work through us. The alternative to allowing order to work through us is to try to control what we cannot fully understand and what is inherently uncontrollable.

The best-laid plans of mice and men gang aft a-gley (often go astray) and leave us naught but grief and pain for promised joy. – Robert Burns

You who cannot even control yourselves, should hardly aspire to control the universe. – A Course in Miracles

To the naive mind that conceives of order only as the product of deliberate arrangement, it may seem absurd that in complex conditions order and adaptation to the unknown can be achieved more effectively by decentralizing decisions.- Friedrich Hayek

For a human being to let go of control is actually an immense thing. It sounds easy to say “just let go of control.” But for most human beings, our entire psychological structure, our entire psychological self, our egos, are made up almost entirely of control. To ask a mind or an ego to let go of control, then is a revolutionary idea. When we let go, even for a moment, certain hidden fears and hesitations arise. “What if let go of control,” the mind says, and “nothing happens? – Adyashanti

We have backed ourselves into some fear filled corners. We have come to believe that to survive we must control everything. The world cannot be left to itself even for a moment. Fearing people we control one another mercilessly. Fearing change we choose our little plans over the surprise of emergence. – Margaret Wheatley

They want to know how things will turn out before they begin. They don’t want to create the conditions for solutions to emerge without being able to control what the solutions might be. They’re enmeshed in a command-and-control organization and fear how it will respond if they obey their own common sense, creativity, and judgment. – Dee Hock

How do we respond to a world that seems out of control? The world seems that way because it is out of control – the sun rises whether we want it to or not, the toaster breaks, somebody cuts you off on your way to work. We’ve never had control. We had the illusion of control when things go the way we think they should. And when they don’t, we say we’ve lost control and we long for some sort of enlightened state beyond all this, where we imagine will have control again. But what we really want is peace. We think that by having control.. we’ll find peace. – Byron Katie

Control is one of our favorite ways of running from life as it is. Control is so deeply ingrained an illusion that we think we can let go of control simply by wanting to. We do not let go of control; we let go of the belief that we have control. The rest is grace. – David Richo

Whether you can observe a thing depends upon the theory you use.- Einstein


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