Surrender. Sounds a lot like submission, doesn’t it? I used to think that waving that white flag admitted defeat. To fight and to control felt powerful, but they only presented me with the illusion of power. This year my life has been a freight train of euphoric highs and dilapidating lows. I’ve had to embrace chaos and uncertainty and found it hard to stomach like bad medicine. Then I realised that surrender is my superpower, and it can be yours too.
What surrender isn’t
It isn’t giving up, letting others walk all over you, abuse, resignation, giving over your power or admitting defeat. It isn’t powerlessness, passivity or inaction, cowardice or failure.
What surrender is
Surrender is the ability to let things be. It is a decision to stop acting from a place of fear, of not controlling other people or outcomes. It is having mindful intentions, doing what you need to do, and then letting go. It is not being dependent on how others think or behave, because you have power and control in how you respond.
What it feels like when you surrender
Consider jumping from a plane. Some of you may have. You can crawl at the sides of the aircraft, screaming and hollering, or you can let go as you freefall.
Consider pushing yourself down a slide. There is a natural momentum as you move to the bottom.
Consider leaves falling from trees. They don’t fight to hang on. They allow themselves to be released.
Considering falling in love. You fell, didn’t you? You weren’t pushed.
Surrender generates a sense of ease. There is no need to exert, no need to force, no need to push, no need to fight. There is trust that you have done what you can, and that you can handle whatever does (or doesn’t) happen next. There is serenity in surrender. There is understanding that power, control and fear are tight like vices, and that we can go limp in their hold to slink away to sweeter pastures.
What does fighting ‘til the bitter end feel like?
Fighting feels like forcing.
Imagine a man sending 100 texts in rapid succession to a woman he is interested in.
Or forcing yourself out of bed when you’re in the throes of a fever.
Or hanging on to the monkey bars long after everyone else has left the park.
Consider the toddler having a tantrum.
There’s tension, fatigue, agitation, impatience. There is a lack of trust. There is a sense that something has to happen right now, or else it won’t happen at all, or it won’t happen as it should or it will be wrong in some way. There is a desire to control, and all control comes from fear.
How can we practice surrender?
I’ve struggled with the concept of surrender in terms of my life, career, relationships and health. But it’s a concept I’m ‘surrendering’ to.
Here’s what helps me:
- I ask myself if I am reacting from a place of fear, control or power. If so, I ask myself why this is the case. Typically, something has triggered a very archaic, vulnerable part of me.
- I ask myself what I am afraid of happening, and what control or power could possibly do to make the outcome better.
- I exercise (a great tension reliever) to burn off the adrenaline and cortisol, and then do some gentle stretching or yoga. I literally loosen up.
- I treat myself as though I matter with some small act of respect to prove my value and worth. This might be making a nutritious meal or journaling.
- I think about what I would like to happen, rather than what should happen.
- I write down at least three things I am grateful for.
- I think about occasions when life didn’t go as I expected, and why it ended up being better. I consider that I don’t always know best.
- I do all I can for my goal and know that I have done my part. No forcing, no controlling, no pushing.
- I lie back and say out loud, ‘I surrender.’
Please know, this is a challenging process for me. When I feel fear, my inner control freak leaps to the front of the ship and tries to steer me. I seek power. I seek control. I seek to micro-manage every aspect of my life. I make the now unbearable.
As such this is a real work in progress for me and something I intend to cultivate.
I come back to a simple statement to ground myself:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.
All my love