When I first heard of the concept of surrender, I assumed it meant accepting defeat. After all, when there’s surrender in a battle, it means that one side of the conflict has lost. They’ve given up.
However, the practice of surrender is a much more empowering one. This kind of surrender does not mean submitting to the enemy, but rather letting go of the things we can’t control. Even as I type “letting go of control”, I can feel my body tense up a bit. As humans, we tend to avoid uncertainty and the unknown. It’s not an easy feat to loosen our grip on life, but it can be incredibly helpful.
Trying to control aspects of life that can’t be controlled (which if you think about it, are most aspects of life) is a continuous, tiring task. Many of us thrive on structure and routine, and though there’s nothing inherently wrong with these things, it’s easy to cling to them as a way to maintain perceived control.
…But then when things inevitably slip out of our control, we tend to react negatively, and then we suffer.
Surrendering is not about giving up. Surrendering is about allowing things to be how they are in the moment. Things won’t always go our way, and resisting that reality only causes more suffering. To constantly grasp for control is to operate out of fear. Surrender says, “I’m open to experiencing a different path than I had expected, and I trust that everything is going to work out.” By giving up this need for things to be a certain way, we actually gain more control over the way we feel and our ability to handle stress.
Here are a few ways you can put surrender into practice:
- Connect with Yourself Regularly – Have you ever had an “A-ha!” moment in the shower? This is likely because you had no distractions, and your mind was free to wander. You are constantly receiving signals from yourself, so it’s important to give yourself the time and space to listen to them. Aim to get in tune with what’s been reeling you in/ pulling on you in your life. It can also be helpful to view experiences of chronic fatigue or depression as a signal that re-direction may be necessary. Sometimes when we have set paths that we commit ourselves to, we resist the useful information we’re receiving from ourselves because it doesn’t fit in with that plan we’re so fond of. Set aside time to check-in on a consistent basis, whether that’s through meditation, yoga, a walk outside, journaling, or whatever works best for you.
- Detach From the Outcome – It’s natural to have preferences on how you’d like things to turn out. The key is to aim to allow preferences to be just that, the way you prefer things to go, rather than the way you need them to be. Aim to make decisions that are most authentic to you, and then let go of the result (because you can’t control it anyway!). Can you think of a time in your life when things didn’t go the way you wanted, but the experience led you down a path that was better for you? Trust that regardless of the outcome, you will be taken care of.
- Connect with Your Spirituality – A major component of surrender is the concept of trust. If spirituality is a part of your life, aim to surrender control to your higher power. Trust that there’s a divine plan for you and be open to receiving what you are meant to receive.
The more you are able to successfully surrender, the calmer you’ll likely feel. Take a deep breath, exhale out the tension in your body, and best you can, allow things to be as they are