The Zen Of Losing Control

“Some of us think holding on makes us strong; but sometimes it is letting go.” ~Hermann Hesse

Over the past few months, something bad has been happening here at Live Bold and Bloom.

Some kind of virus infected my site. (Don’t worry. All is well now.) A message in Portuguese would pop up when you’d click on a post directing you to a nasty download, and it wouldn’t allow you to read the post or navigate away.

It was just annoying at first, as it happened occasionally and required a quick fix from my tech support person. But then it started happening more and more regularly.

And every time it happened, people would stop reading or unsubscribe. My subscriptions in general started to drop. My online rankings started to plummet.  All of the emotional energy and hard work I’d spent over the last few years building this community and my online business was being “infected” by this virus.

At first I was so very angry. Why would someone do this? Why would someone spend their time purposely fostering angst and frustration by creating these viruses? And why were they targeting me — a personal development blogger trying to do a bit of good in the world?

Much of my angst came from not being able to isolate the problem and fix it quickly and permanently. But it mostly came from feeling out of control. I had virtually no understanding of the situation or how to find a solution.  I couldn’t even comprehend the jargon specific to the issue and the technology.

My tech person would say something to me like, “Do you want to test the sniky blickedy dwip or go directly to the whatcha foozie to see if the snorkle pop disconfigurates?” Truly — that’s what is sounded like to me. I would sit there in blank silence, having no idea what she said or how to respond. There’s nothing more humiliating and frustrating than trying to answer a question that’s completely alien.

I can usually figure out most things within the context of the situation. But I didn’t even understand the context. I didn’t know half the words she was using.


My increasing frustration and sense of being out-of-control became painfully evident to my ever-patient tech person. I am usually pretty centered and calm.  But this situation made my head spin off in a very unattractive way, and my poor techie was the hapless witness to it all. Being an understanding sort, she didn’t tell me to go piss off as she could have (should have).

Instead she started talking to me like I was a half-wit. She would explain things very calmly and slowly, using analogies like, “Pretend your site has a big boo boo, and your doctor can’t find the boo boo, and he has to search and search and sometimes the boo boo is sneaky and hides.”

I used to get this same feeling of being out of control when something went wrong with my car. I’d start to hyperventilate when the car dude would begin explaining the problem. I just knew he was laughing inside at my ignorance and how he was setting me up to install a new engine to replace my perfectly good one.

Now I base all of my car repair decisions on whether or not the technician looks remotely trustworthy. If he doesn’t have a tattoo with blood dripping off a dagger, then we’re good to go. I have somehow learned to let go of control with my car issues and most of the time things turn out OK.

But I have much more emotional and financial investment in this site than I do my car. Not only did I feel like things were going to pot with the site in general, but I constantly worried that I was letting YOU down dear reader — that you would think poorly of me and my work.

Of course I know intellectually you weren’t thinking about this problem or my site for one blue minute, but I feel a connection to you as though you are my family and I am responsible.

This particular work is my passion and fulfills a deeper sense of purpose. So having someone “attack” it felt like a personal attack. And it felt like I was being cut off from my connection with you.

“Incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over instead of craving control over what you don’t.” ~Steve Maraboli

Earlier in April, after spending over $1000 dollars to have someone diagnose the problem, come up with their best guess as to the cause, and then change themes on my site entirely — the damned problem cropped up again with a demonic fury. There were no quick fixes.

When it happened, I just wanted to lie on the floor and sob.

I’m always telling people that most problems are “figure-out-able.” If you encounter a roadblock, you can always find a solution, blah blah blah.  But at that moment, I would have slapped myself silly for this Pollyanna baloney (not really but it felt that way at the time). Nothing was working, and it was wearing me down to a nub.

When faced with a real problem that has no apparent solution, you simply feel helpless. And feeling helpless makes you feel hopeless — which is a slippery slope toward giving up entirely.

However, when this last issue occurred, I finally pulled myself up by my metaphorical bootstraps and gave myself a good shake. In spite of feeling completely out-of-control and sinking toward hopelessness, I realized two important things:

1. I am sharing and teaching personal development here for God’s sake! But I was totally devolving into Linda Blair over this problem. I was allowing the problem to change who and how I want to be, even when I feel out-of-control.

2. I do have control over one important thing how I choose to reactand view the problem. I can continue to rail at the universe over my misfortune and frustration, taking out my frustration on the people trying to help me, or I can breathe and take the next logical step. And then the next. And allow the process to unfold calmly.

So I chose to breathe.

I let go of control.

There’s an important difference between giving up and letting go. ~Jessica Hatchigan

I’ve had to change servers entirely for the site, basically starting over with a new site (although you can’t tell the difference). This has cost more money and time with the site down. But I’ve reached a Zen state of mind about it. I have recognized the world won’t come to an end, and I won’t lose my business because my site has been down.

So instead of fretting, I used this time to . . .

  • reflect on the direction I want to take on Live Bold and Bloom;
  • review the site for updates and changes I want to make in general;
  • think about new topics I want to write about;
  • look for great guest experts to write posts as well;
  • work on a self-study course I’ll be releasing in the next few months;
  • being thankful that I have capable people in my life to help me.

In the meantime, my tech person has been working away at restoring everything and taking care of the details. I decided I wouldn’t ask her what she was doing, and I requested she keep me out-of-the-loop of communications  about the work to fix it. I just wanted the occasional update on when things would be ready.

Learning to accept the things I could not control in this situation has been a hard-fought state of mind, but I have reached it. I’ve also learned there are some situations in which you must blindly put your trust in someone’s expertise and simply let go and let them handle it.

And finally, I’ve accepted that I can’t be an expert or even remotely knowledgeable on everything related to my business, and this doesn’t make me stupid. I simply choose not to focus my time and energy in certain areas. I should be proud of my ability to prioritize rather than criticize myself over perceived limitations.

Sometimes it takes losing control to regain equanimity. Sometimes things have to fall apart so you realize you have little control over anything except how you choose to be and act. That’s when you reach a Zen state over losing control and learn to let go.

How about you? Are there situations where you’ve felt out-of-control? What did you do and how did you find that Zen state? Please share your experiences in the comments below.

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50 thoughts on “The Zen Of Losing Control”

  1. Wow, Barrie! I was wondering what was going on. While I never saw the popup, there have been several times I’ve come over to read and Tweet your posts only to find no social media buttons. So glad things are getting fixed. How maddening that must have been! It truly amazes me that there are people who sit at home and write viruses for the sole purpose of hurting people they don’t know.

    Loved the message of this posts as well. “Sometimes things have to fall apart so you realize you have little control over anything except how you choose to be and act.” — this is an important message that needs to sink into more hearts. Thanks for sharing your experience with us.

    • Hi Ken,
      Well first, thank you for coming by to share my posts. How nice!! It has been a maddening experience that has gone on for a long time. I’m so happy it appears to be finally resolved. One other thing I’ve learned during this is to keep in mimd why I’m blogging in the first place — because I want to share and connect. And my ability to do that will never go away, even if my site does. Thanks for all of your support!

  2. Wow! I totally know and understand that spiraling when faced with tech problems and other problems like that – there is a magic in letting it go and letting it drop that is so absolutely sublime. Thank you very much for this post – I definitely needed it.

    • You are right Emily — there is a magic in it. It helps put things in perspective. The events themselves are really neutral. It’s all in our response.

  3. To think it was the snorkle pop acting up when I tried visiting your site 🙂

    Seriously though, all of us have those out-of-control moments and even the great Jim Rohn admitted he had a hard time practicing what he preached. I guess all we can do is our best, learn from our mistakes and keep going.

    I really appreciate your honesty in this post Barrie, keep up the good work!

    • Hi Patrik,
      So sorry you were exposed to my snorkle pop. But glad you can relate — I’m not alone in this frustration. Honesty is the only way to go in these situations. Hopefully my difficulties will help someone else deal with their own.

  4. I wondered where you’d been Barrie. And I’m sorry for your experience with niky blickedy dwips and whatcha foozie ending up with snorkle pops.

    I do believe there are times when we all forget to practice what we preach. Even if it’s only in certain circumstances. The good news is, because we do think about, write about and talk about it so much, eventually we realize we’re allowing the outer world to control our thoughts and feelings and then we get to say, hang on a minute…this isn’t how I operate.

    Kudos to you for getting your hang on a minute moment allowing you to get a new perspective on what was going on in your world.

    Great reminder. Thank you.

    Love Elle

    • Hi Elle,
      Thank you so much for wondering about me! And thank you for this lovely and beautifully written comment. Sometimes those “hang on a minute” realizations come after you’ve come close to the end of your rope. I do think the patience and calm explanations of my tech person really helped me. It’s nice to have a calm presence when you aren’t feeling so calm yourself!

  5. Perfectly timed words for me, thanks Barrie. I’ve had to relinquish complete control over the past three weeks due to a debilitating and totally unexpected back injury – made all the worse by the fact that I’m currently travelling around Europe solo, supposedly on the “trip of a lifetime” before I move to Spain for a year.

    I’ve had massive ups and downs as I try to deal with this but I think I’m slowly coming around to your point of view. In the past week I’ve started to realise that there might be a blessing in this if I choose to react to it positively. I can’t go anywhere or do anything physical … but I do have my MacBook. It’s like I’ve been granted this chunk of time to do the things I’ve always thought about but never made time to do – find and read inspiring blogs like yours, work on improving my own, build my freelancing business, meditate, write.

    Thanks for putting this feeling into concrete form for me. Now I’m going to focus on accepting the situation and letting go. 🙂

    • Hi Koren,
      I am so sorry about your back injury. What terrible timing while you are traveling. I’m glad you have chosen to see the good in the situation and make the best of it. Your calm attitude will help with your healing too. Sending many positive thoughts your way for a quick recovery. And in the meantime, keep reading! 🙂

  6. “And finally, I’ve accepted that I can’t be an expert or even remotely knowledgeable on everything related to my business, and this doesn’t make me stupid. I simply choose not to focus my time and energy in certain areas. I should be proud of my ability to prioritize rather than criticize myself over perceived limitations.”

    That has to be the most insightful and helpful statement I’ve read in a very long time. Thanks so much for writing it.

    • Hi Debby,
      I’m so glad it resonated with you. I really don’t like the feeling of not understanding something. But there aren’t enough hours in a day to learn everything. So I must let the cream rise to the top. And fortunately, I have good support people around me!

  7. Barrie, it really resonated with me when you said ” I was allowing the problem to change who and how I want to be”.
    Recently I have been challenged by my own situation over which I have no control. I have been putting lots effort into the inner work that helps me to respond from a place where I am calm and centered. But I am not perfect, sometimes I react in ways I later regret. My personal realization that revealed it self during today’s morning meditation was that I need to work on accepting and forgiving my imperfections.
    One of my teachers (Evelyn Apostolou) says “struggle is the opportunity for growth and expansion” -I have stopped asking myself “Why is this happening to me?” and instead ask “What is this situation here to teach me?”

    • Trish, that is absolutely beautiful — “What is this situation here to teach me?” When you begin to view events as neutral (not innately negative or positive), then you can decide how you want to react. You can recreate your life this way, by choosing to find the lesson or look for the good in a situation. Of course, the flood of emotion we get sometimes in certain situations is hard to manage. That’s when you practice good old breathing and walking away until you regain equanimity. I’ve learned to wait a day or two before I respond to something that makes me highly emotional. I have fewer regrets that way! 🙂

  8. So sorry to hear about your Portuguese-speaking blog zapper. Viruses are so insidious, aren’t they? Didn’t get to me and I just patiently waited for you to have more to say because you always seem to hit the nail on the head at exactly the right time.

    I have a spouse with a serious health problem that he chooses not to monitor or aid in diminishing it. I have been supportive, ranted in a wifely fashion and fallen into despair when I realized the clock still ticks away and there is not a lot I can do to change his attitude. Trust me, this has been going on for quite awhile. Loss of control? Yup – for me, the consummate caretaker-of-everyone, I had to let go and accept that I couldn’t affect his change, only my reaction to it. I have embraced a Zen state of mind which is seeing me through it and decided to really, really enjoy the time we have together. I take care of myself by focusing on the positive and letting go of what I cannot do well. I write away the anxiety.

    Thanks for your post. Nice to know we all share a need for unexpected space to set priorities and relax into life.

    • Hi Donna,
      Thank you so much for your kind and supportive words. Oh my, I am so sorry about the situation with you husband. That must be the ultimate in wanting to take control of something and fix it. It’s so hard to watch someone choose not to take care of themselves. You are faced with that daily. I imagine it takes it’s toll on you. But I’m glad you’ve reached a state of calm. One of the hardest parts of relationships is allowing the other person to be who they want to be, even if it’s not who you want them to be. You have chosen to love him for who he is. That’s courageous and lovely.

  9. Ha! Loved this. And how coincidental – or Is it?!I just posted a blog on my website on a very similar theme. Lessons learnt from a trip with my kids to Europe. #1 let go. #2 there is something to be gained from every experience positive or negative! And then to test my mettle I couldn’t post the photos, and the Facebook link doesn’t work!! Yes very very ZEN indeed!!

    • Hi Caroline,
      Oh, I’ve taken my kids on a trip to Europe — so I can totally relate without even knowing the details!! Kids can wreck havoc on our best intentions. I’d say kids and technology rank at the top of potential Zen testers! Hope you got everything fixed on your post. 🙂

    • Thanks Mike. Wow, it seems so simple when you say it. Why did it take me so long to get there? 🙂

  10. Hi Barrie!

    I am so sorry you went through that stressing experience and I admire the conclusions shared on this post.

    Your article has been very inspiring, I really loved it.

    Best wishes

    • Hi Ana Cristina,
      So nice to see you here! I hope things are going well with your passion experiment. Thank you for your kind words.

  11. Talk about being open and vulnerable – I absolutely admire this post! I’m inspired on a personal level. This is another one of those articles that I’ll print, share and keep handy. An experience that has moved me. Thank you Barrie!

    • Hi Crystal,
      Well, it’s hard not to be vulnerable since this was such a public issue. I’m just happy I have so many supportive and kind friends out there like you! It makes it much easier to be open about the situation. (Which is really minor in the scheme of things.) Thank you so much for your kind words.

  12. Barrie,
    I believe the whole world would be altered for the better if we could ALWAYS implement what we know, at least that’s true at my house. But if we never took leave from our senses how would we stay humble enough to keep learning and growing?
    I’m happy you’ve rebounded so graciously to give us all this sweet reminder. I have a motto I repeat often–“Ya can’t be blessin’ when you’re stressin’ ” repeated several times in goofy accents this can actually lighten most tough times and lets me steer my mind back to what counts.
    Thanks for being here to lead the way and being the good example you are.

    • Hi Mary,
      I love that motto! Hope you don’t mind if I borrow it. I take leave of my senses quite often (ask my kids!), but I always come back to them. They’ve been good to me over the years. 🙂

  13. Good to have you back & sorry for all wahala. I totally resonate with the write up. It may be hard to let go but its a great relief to do so. Thanks.

    • It’s great to be back! And thank you for your supportive words. Yes, it is a relief. My entire body feels lighter and less tensed up.

  14. Boy could I relate. My site started to get attacks from China, Iran and ….. my tech person speaks he same language yours does or I speak your language. My lesson was “Don’t take things personally.” I found out the problem was WordPress was being attached and it was some of the plugins.

    My thoughts were why do people spend so much of their brilliance, energy and light to ‘hurt’ other people. It has been another one of those spiritual experiences.

    Thanks for another great post and your Zen response to internet weirdnesses.

    • Hi Susan,
      Yes, I learned the same thing about my friendly hacker. It was personal, just a bug that was leashed out there that wormed its way through a vulnerability on my site (likely a plug-in as well). I’m glad it wasn’t personal. But it sure felt that way!

  15. Hi Barrie

    So thrilled to hear your site is free of gremlins now. I also glaze over with all that techy stuff!

    In addition to letting go of control, I also learnt a valuable lesson recently around expectations. I was expecting things to turn out a certain way, and when they didn’t, I got seriously disappointed. I expected my son to sleep through the night, I expected to have heaps of time for my new business, I expected my parents to give me thunderous applause for my achievements, the list went on.

    I realised that I was creating my own disappointment and once I let that go, I began to be pleasantly surprised when things went right, instead of bitter when they didn’t. Mindset is a powerful thing isn’t it?!

    Leah xo

    • Hi Leah,
      Thank you for sharing this. When I was pregnant with my first child, I wrote out exactly how I wanted the birth to proceed and how labor would go. Haa!!! If there was ever a situation when you are totally out of control, it’s childbirth. Followed by having a baby in the house!! I think babies are tiny Zen monks in disguise teaching us how to let go. It’s good to have a vision and some expectations, but you must hold them loosely. I like to think, “This or something better will happen for me.”

  16. Excellent post. But I am not quite ready for letting go. Still working at that means not real sure I know we whst I am holding on to. But thanks for all the food thought. Kimberly

    • Hi Kimberly,
      You will know when it’s time to let go. It’s when your head gets bloody from banging it against a wall in frustration! 🙂

  17. It seems that I am reading something which is perfectly suit to my situation at the moment. I am currently lost at the thought of my forever-owned printer that had stopped working, and I just got to know that the software that I need to use for my study (I’m a student) is not compatible with my notebook operating system. So I am now thinking on whether I should buy a new laptop (and printer) instead but how should I know if it is a good investment for my study and am little bit hopeless now. At the same time, I am in a deep need of some realistic solution as time is really crucial for me. Oh, did I mention about my crashed external hard disk? Basically all my saved data can’t be recovered at the moment and yes, all these keep me holding on in going forward. Maybe I should try ‘let it go’..

    ps/ Sorry to hear about the virus thingy.

    • Hi Jewel,
      Well, don’t let it go until you find someone good who can help you. If you don’t know what to do, research people who are experts and seek advice. Then let go and let them handle it for you if possible.

  18. Thank you for this wonderful post. I realized while reading it just how fortunate I am to have everything I thought I needed removed from my life these past nine months. No need to worry about letting go of anything because God in Her wisdom worked with my Higher Self to empty my life. Good of them to keep me out of the loop or I’d have been terribly stressed.

    What none of us expected was I am so happy to have all this space I am loathe to fill it with anything. Perhaps if I pray particularly nicely and throw in a sacrifice every so often the two of them will take care of this for me as well.

    • Thank you Barrie for your deeply human story about zen and snorkle pops! I am also grateful for your above responders whose insights have also helped in my current predicament – at least lightened the load and enabled another perspective. Keep up your fine work.

    • Thank you Maryonna. That’s why these comments are so wonderful — because we can all help one another!

    • Hi Shaun,
      You never know what the universe has in store for you. So just relax and enjoy the ride! What a lovely attitude you have.

  19. Dear Barrie cherry ,

    Thanks a lot for not giving up on your website , and consequently not giving up on us. Many websites authors quit and forsake their work when they encounter the minimum problem , or critic ; but not you ! It would have torn my heart to know that your website would be shut , and that all of this fine work and precious knowledge would have been lost . You have a true prophet soul ! May God you will always be by our side with your great articles.

    A loving fan

    • Thank you so much Mary for your kind and supportive words. That means so much to me! I am not giving up at all. I love what I do too much. 🙂

  20. Barrie, I feel your pain. I’ve recently been hit with some kind of spam that might be affecting my rankings on Google. While it doesn’t seem as serious as your issues (no pop-ups or redirects or anything as of yet), I can understand your frustration.

    I view it as a moment to walk the walk. It’s easy to talk about staying positive and working through hurdles, but it’s one thing to actually do it! Your comment on choosing how you react is crucial.

    Thanks for sharing your experience.

  21. Every time I feel a bit in control of my life, there’s a new “hard event”/challenge that comes up and make me realize that I should NOT take things for granted.

    A good way I re-found to find my Zen state after a new challenge is to repeat myself a mantra or quotes like those ones.

    A wise man never loses anything, if he has himself.
    Michel de Montaigne

    The most certain sign of wisdom is cheerfulness.
    Michel de Montaigne

    Cheers for that beautiful post!

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