A Lesson on Life from a Tomato Plant + Tips for Letting Go of the Need to Control


Several years ago, back when I was single and called Seattle home, I lived with my friend Stephanie in her beautiful home in West Seattle. This was the first actual house other than my parents that I had lived in.  Her home had a beautiful yard and I was eager to test out my green thumb to see if I actually even had one.

With Stephanie's blessing, I went to the West Seattle nursery and purchased a tomato plant as I had a limited space to work with and to be honest, I wasn't even sure I'd be able to keep it alive.  I didn't want the deaths of multiple plants looming over my head so I decided to start small with a single plant.  I bought my beautiful little cherry tomato plant and brought it home to plant in the little space I created for 'my garden' on the side of the house.

The days that followed involved me obsessing over the plant,  checking it and watering it daily, constantly wondering if there wasn't more I should be doing to ensure that this plant would be bountiful and produce lots of juicy, delicious fruit.

The plant however, didn't seem to like what I was doing. It's leaves started to curl up on itself and it looked as if, despite all my efforts, it was going to die after all. Disappointed with myself, I eventually just let the tomato plant be and went about my life. I no longer felt the need to obsess and control what the outcome would be. I let go.

Several weeks later, in early August, as I  was sitting on the cobble stone steps that lead down to the patio,  I was reminded of that little plant,  probably shriveled up into a pile of brown stems by now, and I wandered over to the side of the house.

To my surprise, what I found wasn't a dried out pathetic looking plant but a totally robust and vigorously growing cherry tomato plant. Full of fruit and full of life.

Holy s&$*! was my exact reaction.

Standing there, wide-eyed and a little confused, I turned on my heels and ran inside and upstairs to where Stephanie was working. I told her she HAD to come see this as she knew all about the great efforts I had been putting into this little plant.

As we turned the corner to the side of the house I pointed at my blossoming cherry tomato plant and said "look!"

We both stood there and stared with disbelief because we had both succumbed to the idea that it was dead.

It was then that I had a major ah ha moment and turned to Steph and said, "see, sometimes we just have to let go and see what happens."


I've carried this story with me over the last few years and use it as a constant reminder when I feel myself needing to control or manipulate a situation.

With many things in life, the more I obsess and try to force something the more it recoiled in the opposite direction.  There is a difference between being proactive in achieving a goal of yours and holding onto something so tight that you barely have room to breath.

As women we tend to want to control things out of the fear of the unknown. Underneath that, there is a fear and a lack of trust in the synchronicity of life and instead of letting it happen, we clench it between our fingers with the greatest of hopes. Unfortunately, life just doesn't work out that way. What we are trying to control or manipulate in our favor usually ends up being the very thing that isn't serving us in life.

But what if we let go and just let life happen. What if we got out there and lived more and did the things we've always wanted to do and let go of a certain idea or perception of how it HAD to be? . What I AM talking about is being open to the idea that there CAN be another way of doing things.That by letting go we will learn to trust that the universe has our back. It's scary, trust me, I know just how much from personal experience. But one thing I've grown to realize is that when I do let go, when I accept life for what it is right now, things always turn out in my favor and most of the time, far better then I could have ever imagined.

Is there anything that you are holding onto that  you could benefit from loosening your grip on?

Maybe that idea of your perfect weight?

What about a new relationship that has started to feel forced or disconnected?

Or, how about a business idea that just is not flowing organically?

Maybe a deep seeded resentment towards someone who hurt you?

The list could go on and on but you have the power to let life unfold the way it is meant to. The more resistance and rules we set, the harder it is going to be to live your life from a truly authentic, organic and beautiful place.

Believe me, I know this story all too well. I've held on tightly to many things over the years, from perceptions to unhealthy relationships  and there was always one common theme; I was so scared of the unknown, of letting go and trusting that things will unfold just the way they are meant to.

I still battle with the desire to control my life but using these simple tips, I've learned to let go, breathe, and go with the flow much more in life and have been rewarded for it greatly.

Simple Tips for Letting Go of the Need to Control

1.  Be Honest With Yourself

Ask yourself honestly why you feel the need to hold on so tight. Most of the time we are doing so out of habit, lack of self-confidence, and a feeling of desperation. Once we can accurately assess what it is we are feeling, we can begin to loosen the grip, trusty that even if the situation doesn't turned out as planned, we will be just fine.

2. Ask Yourself "What Do I Really Want and Will Obtaining This Contribute to That?"

Once you are honest with yourself, ask yourself what YOU really want and decide whether or not this thing you are holding on to help you achieve those goals.  Some of those things we hold on to so tightly aren't even things that really suit us and the life we really want to live.

Getting really clear on the life you want to live will help you identify whether or not this one thing will get you one step closer to it.

3. Be Patient With Yourself

Change takes time. If you are a person who, like me, is more black and white and the idea of letting go freaks the hell out of you, then be patient with yourself. Take little steps to create these lasting changes. Acknowledging the fact that you are controlling a situation is a huge step. Then see if you can't see it from a different perceptive.

4. Surrender  + Breathe

Sometimes we just have to throw our hands up and say okay, I give the f up and walk away. This doesn't mean you're a quitter. Actually, it's quite the opposite really. It means that you have come to a subconscious understanding that this situation no longer serves you. You know that saying, if you love someone set it free if it returns to you it was meant to be? Or something like that. Well, there is a lot of truth to that.

When we look back on our lives we usually see a patter; that things unfold the way they are going to, regardless of how  much we hold on.

Releasing control means that we make the choice to let go and let life unfold the way it is supposed to. In the end, I think you will find that it is a more peaceful way of living within the ebb and flow of life.

What is something you are grasping onto with everything you have? Can you loosen your grip? What would your life look like if you did so?

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