What do you do when life throws you a curve ball? Do you fight for control, muscle up, power through, and do what it takes to overcome, or do you surrender? Or does it depend on the situation?
If you have ever made a bigger mess out of an already challenging situation, then you might want to explore the powerful paradox of surrender, and how the greatest act of power can sometimes be to let go and flow.
How to Surrender and Let Your Emotions Flow
Despite parts of the last two weeks being fun for me, there were parts that were challenging and rough too. Superficially, I received photos of myself that were so terrible both in quality and the way I looked that I went into a self-loathing tailspin. But because I received the photos right after learning a friend of mine was in hospice, instead of letting my emotions flow, I stuffed them down.
As a result, I lost my equilibrium and instead of flowing with my anxiety and grief, I defaulted into controlling, which did not work and only served to hurt or tick off the people that I love.
It’s my guess that like me, you’ve lost your equilibrium a time or two and haven’t shown up as your best self either. While I know we are only human, it’s still frustrating to be bitch-slapped by the Universe. Especially after “doing the work” and knowing better!
The Interplay of Surrender and Control
I firmly believe we have the power to create and control our own destiny and I also believe in the power of surrender. So, when my friend in hospice shared that she was “surrendering into Jesus” instead of fighting the cancer, I got to wondering if surrender and fight could coexist – and if so, how. Which reminded me of a story:
Years ago, a friend recommended a marriage book about surrendering in your marriage. Introducing the book to me she said, “I HATE the title but don’t worry, surrendering to your husband is not what the book is about.” Yes, I was triggered by the title and the idea of surrendering, but I gave it a chance. The book explained how we have happier relationships when we stop getting all involved in our partner’s business and interfering under the guise of “being helpful.” It explained how “being helpful” was oftentimes insulting to your partner’s intelligence and capability and that we should focus on ourselves instead of worrying about what our partner was doing and trying to control them.
Ouch! But kinda true… and wasn’t that what I was trying to do in life? Getting all involved in business that was not by own and trying to control the way both myself and others thought and felt? Afterall, I could not control the quality or angles of the pictures, nor could I control my friend’s cancer or impending death. But I was behaving as if I could.
Fast-forward to last month when I learned that the title of that same book on surrender that was referred to me years ago was changed from surrendered to empowered. Guess what happened when the title changed? The book hit the New York Times Bestseller list! Even though nothing inside had changed!
How to be Empowered
Which shows that most of us like the idea of being empowered more than we like the idea of being surrendered. Which is when it hit me. The words empowered and surrendered are synonymous with each other. We only think that they are different!
- True surrender isn’t about being weak, giving up, or being overly accommodating. True surrender is about being wise enough to jump in the river that is flowing in the direction you wish to go and allowing yourself to be carried.
- True surrender is about trusting your power to choose the right river, and instead of fighting the river you are in, extricating yourself from rivers flowing the wrong direction and choosing a different river.
A Wise Person Never Fights the Flow of the River
After all, I am only in charge of myself, knowing when to surrender and flow with what is, and when to get out and hop in a different river. I am empowered when I either surrender to the flow and allow myself to get carried in the direction I want to go in, or when I remove myself from the river and jump in a river of my choosing.
Either way it’s power and either way its flow.