The word “surrender” can be a very provocative word. In the context of personal growth, I’ve had some discomfort with that word in the past. I believe that much of my discomfort came from both a bias I had with the meaning of that word, and with my desire to be in control. After taking some time to break down what this word means to me, I’ve come to a much better understanding and appreciation for how surrender can play a more effective role in my life.
My recent reading list has included some of Gabrielle Bernstein’s books as well as the foundation for much of her work, “A Course In Miracles”. I was introduced to “A Course in Miracles” (ACiM) from some of my friends during my Life Skills Coaching studies. It’s not an easy book to read, to be quite honest. It reminds me of a cross between a bible and an encyclopedia volume – dense, to be read in small segments and reflected upon, something to approach as a “study”.
Surrender is a central theme, in my opinion, in ACiM. Other books which have been influenced by ACiM, like “Love is Letting Go of Fear” by Gerald G. Jampolsky, focus the process of “surrender” in the context of relationships. I do highly recommend his book – it provided me an alternative viewpoint in how I interact with the people around me.
Surrender in the context of personal growth & goals, however, has been a much more challenging process for me. In many of Gabrielle Bernstein’s books, she calls on surrender as the path to receiving guidance from the universe and to achieving your goals. She also calls out the personality type that I have found myself aligned to for much of my life – the “pusher” or controller who needs to have a hands-on approach to directing the events in my life. I was uncomfortable with the idea that letting go was sometimes the best thing to do.
There are only a couple of motivational speakers or coaches who I have actively sought out to listen to over the years. Several other business people and speakers have been inspirational sources for my professional career. With the majority of those people, their message has focused on being the active participant in your life: to choose & plan effectively in order to make the changes you desire to see. I don’t believe there’s anything wrong with that approach at all – it’s pragmatic, effective and aligns many of my own values.
So, when I come across teachings that advocate for letting go and trusting that things will happen as needed, I have found myself becoming frustrated and wanting to continue to push for an outcome. I think this really came into focus for me with my dad’s recent health issues. For our entire family, it’s been a learning experience filled with new knowledge, terms, procedures and strategies. Our interactions with the hospital staff & doctors has been great, but a little overwhelming at times.
When it comes to health issues, this is one area where patience truly is a virtue. The body heals in the time that it needs and you can’t rush that. You can check on progress as frequently as you want, but much of the time you need to just observe and see how the body reacts over time and act accordingly.
In this situation, I really had to learn how to let go and not feel the need to control the outcome. What helped me was to understand that I have a path in front of me, as do everyone around me. All of these paths intertwine & interact but I can only affect the path that I’m on, from the perspective of my actions and how I react to what happens on my path. For everyone else’s path, I can merely observe and see how or if I am triggered and hopefully learn from that. Did the doctor say something that was negative or unclear? Ok, that’s my opportunity to ask for clarity or to let go of a preconceived idea that I held.
Since my path is the only one that I can really affect, then that’s my opportunity to find the approach that’s both pragmatic and optimistic. If I can change the way I feel about a situation, that’s going to affect the way I interact with people. I do firmly believe in the notion that “you drive where you are steering the car” so if I can adopt a mindset that is realistic yet optimistic, I have a much better chance of steering my experience towards a healthier outcome.
About my dad, he just passed away this morning after a very sudden turn in his condition. Ultimately, we know that he’s at peace and chose to go on his own terms. My own process of surrender throughout his journey has definitely helped me prepare for this loss and understand that there are many things out of our control. It doesn’t make the loss any easier – I will still grieve with my family but I have much more peace in my heart by not struggling against things that I cannot control.