“Surrender to what is. Say ‘yes’ to life and see how life suddenly starts working for you rather than against you.” ~Eckhart Tolle
I am learning the power of surrender. I’m learning how to receive. I’m learning how to let go of thinking I need to know it all, do it all, and make it all happen. I’m learning to trust. I’m learning to slow down. I’m learning everything I want is already here, if I choose to see it that way, and I’m learning sometimes doing absolutely nothing is absolutely everything.
So many of us grow up believing in the value of hard work. We prove our value by how much we give and by how much we get done in a day. When we want something done, we do it. When we want something changed, we change it. We own our life and take responsibility for our outcomes. We know it’s up to us to make the lives we want, but in all that pushing, all that “making shit happen” we get seduced into believing that we are in control.
Control is an illusion.
Control is our way of forcing an outcome we believe is best. Control is how we avoid disaster (and by disaster I mean anything we don’t want or didn’t plan for). But when we believe we know best we completely shut ourselves off from possibilities that may not have even occurred to us. We close the door on inspiration, spiritual guidance, or help from the universe. “Thanks but no thanks God, you may have created all the plants, and animals, and ice cream cones and Freddie Mercurys in the universe, but I’ll take it from here.”
I mean, we’re pretty smart and all, but do we really think we know better than the big guy in the sky who created, you know, everything? There’s some incredible shit out there. Shit we couldn’t have dreamed up in our wildest imaginations. Shit like the mantis shrimp.
Why don’t we ask for help more? How do we let go of the need to control? What if we don’t have to figure it all out on our own?
The Art of Surrender
This morning I had a great chat with a dear friend who was struggling to make a decision, to choose between two seemingly equal alternatives. She’d done the pros and cons, made the lists, did all the comparing and contrasting, and was utterly stuck. She did not know what to do. The stress and pressure of figuring out the “right” solution was tearing her up.
I told her to stop thinking.
She’d done what she could. More thinking wasn’t going to unlock the perfect answer. Big decisions are not simply tangled knots we unravel through persistent, brute force mental energy.
It was time to surrender.
“I said to my soul, be still and wait without hope, for hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love, for love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith, but the faith and the love are all in the waiting. Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought: So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.” T.S. Elliot
Surrender literally means to stop fighting. Stop fighting yourself. Stop fighting the universe. Surrender is complete acceptance of what is combined with faith that all will work out for the best, even without our input. When we trust that we’ll be okay no matter what, we open ourselves up to all sorts of wonderful possibilities that weren’t available to us when we’re attached to the outcome.
Surrender isn’t about inaction. It’s about taking inspired action. The energy of surrender accomplishes much more than the energy of control. When we try to control, we’re stressed, scattered, unsure, tense and fearful. We’re like a wild animal backed into a corner, eyes darting back and forth in panic. In surrender, we’re calm and peaceful. We breath deeply into the present moment.
When we stop thinking, we can see clearly.
The irony is attempting to control makes us feel less in control. Surrender feels like freedom.
Einstein said, “The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe.” I believe in a friendly universe that is supporting me at every turn. I don’t have to worry myself over the details because I know it’s not my job to figure it all out. I know I couldn’t possibly know what’s best for me so I don’t have to have to pretend that I do. Guidance, inspiration, and clarity is always available to me when I remember to listen.
We can choose to do things the easy way or the hard way. We can push against the current of what is, trying to wrestle our limited vision into submission, or we can let the river carry us downstream, towards a life better than we could ever imagine.