When I hear the word surrender, I tend to react in a negative way. I think of it as submitting, giving up or giving in. I think of surrender as letting go of my power or my protection. I am vulnerable to anything or anyone that might hurt me. So I struggle when someone says the word surrender to me.
But, I’ve learned that surrendering does not mean becoming weak. I’ve learned that if I become softer with something, I actually find strength. I am able to allow my inner strength to bubble up. I don’t often trust that it will be there or that it will be strong enough, but my strength always is.
I’m not sure why I don’t believe in my strength (but I have a few ideas that I won’t go into here.) It has never failed me when I have truly allowed it to come up instead interfering with it by holding on.
I have birthed four children and each time, I was not able to do it until I surrendered into the act of birth. In that letting go of my control, I found strength I never knew I had. It was the strength to bring another human being out of my body and into the world. I held onto this strength for quite a long time after each birth, but it doesn’t remain with me unless I surrender into it again.
Surrendering is natural for my state, but my life has encouraged my belief that being tight and unyielding cultivates strength. There can be a place for that kind of strength, but it has never worked as well for me as the fluidity of surrender.
Every guilt-memory I have created for myself as a parent is also one I can point to as being one where I did not surrender and trust myself. I can’t seem to hold onto the memory of my power to create unless I mindfully do the work.
It is the small examples of surrender I think of as mindfully doing the work. Such as, when I’m struggling to get my kids out the door and it seems like we’re moving in lock step toward a power struggle. It takes a long time and is unpleasant for us all unless one of us opts out of the struggle.
As the parent, that would be me who has to the responsibility to surrender in that moment. Once I withdraw from our ego-battle and surrender into our rhythms, the oppressive atmosphere lifts. We get out the door more quickly and most often manage to do it smiling.
All it took was for me to surrender and the strength to smoothly get out the door arrived. Yet, again I am focusing on my kids as the “problem” to fix in order to get out the door. I should be focusing on myself as part of the solution to getting out the door.
Whether I’m the entire problem or whether my kids pick up on my attitude and react (which I then react to and so on; back and forth) isn’t as important as remembering that the only thing I can control is how I feel about what is happening and what I do with those feelings.
I have had this happen in Yoga class, too. My inner monologue says that a pose is hard for me and I tighten up. Then begins the battle between my body and my will. I fight and struggle to open. If I’m lucky, I remember to let go and start mentally looking for places I’m holding tension or pushing against. I back off on the tension and the pushing and find that there is so much more space to move into. I never would have found flexibility without injury unless I became soft.
I have the same experience with writing, which is how this piece is actually appearing tonight. I have had a sinus headache and have been worried about what to write for my daily post all day. I’ve been searching for inspiration, getting more stressed about it as the day goes on. Until finally, when there are only a few minutes left before it is time for the kids’ bedtime routine, I was willing to surrender into whatever came out of me. I sat down; took some deep breaths and began with the idea of surrender.
I have memories of this happening with exams in school, presentations at work, projects, decisions, travels with my family, and the list goes on. Most of all, I remember this happening with PPD. It was worse when I struggled and fought. Surrendering while depressed was much more frightening to me because feelings of death feel real. I was always in panic-mode if I thought I was going to get lost in the darkness and never find my way back. Whenever I was able to face that fear, healing became easier and I was kinder to myself.
This leads me to the realization that there are times when I need to step back from being engaged in the moment (or perhaps, more explicitly, being disengaged because I’m worrying about the future or the past) and become the observer. There are times when being in the moment can be more of a trap and it is necessary to get a clear view. I cannot get rid of my ego with another active action of my ego. The work is looking at each situation and deciding whether it will be better served by diving back into the flow or stepping out to observe. Either way, I need to surrender and trust in myself.
How do you feel about surrendering? Do you fight against it or are you able to access power through the art of observation and letting go? I would love to hear from you.
- Why Surrendering Doesn’t Make You A Martyr (Jazzy Mama) (aka: The Other Half of my Brain-the smarter half)
- Are You Asking Me or Telling Me (touchstonez.com)
- Flipping off Your Kids (touchstonez.com)
- Just Not on the Same Page (Becoming Crunchy Guest Post) (touchstonez.com)
- Transforming Reactions into Responses (New Mommy Files Guest Writer) (touchstonez.com)