The Other Side of Surrender

Yesterday was rough.

Despite my oft-stated intentions to balance work and creativity, my list once again ran off the charts. I’ve got this exciting new project (more on that soon) and if I am to manifest it I must tackle it – chunk by chunk.

So there’s that list. And here’s my deep desire and intention to write, to continue to post on my blogs. And there’s all the other stuff that needs to be done just to keep household and life functioning. And over here is this other list of actual paying work projects.

Of course that last takes precedence. So yesterday morning I set my Pomodoro timer (a cool time management tool I’m trying out) and got busy. I thought it would take one “Pomodoro” (25 minutes) to write up a quote for this freelance project. Of course it took closer to three.

What’s next? The writing. It’s calling me, right? It’s been a while since I’ve updated either blog. The stories write themselves in my head while jogging, while in the shower or when I’m out in the garden pulling up some weeds. Time to get some of them down on paper.

Couldn’t remember any of it.

Instead, a deep exhaustion grabbed a hold of me. My eyes were literally closing. What the hell was going on? I’d barely finished sipping on my morning cup of coffee that usually keeps me wired till lunch.

I have had this weird stomach ache for a couple of days. Am I sick? Is it writer’s block? Or, am I paralyzed  because of my fears about my new project?

The Busy Beast was pissed – how can I even think about walking away from my desk now? When would all this stuff get done?

But I knew it was time to devote some energy to the being instead of doing. The ‘doing’ part of my brain wanted that to be something creative – something I don’t set aside time for –  like my vision board.

But even that seemed like work. That exhaustion gripped me, my brain felt enveloped in fog.

I lay down on the couch and watched the sun playing with the clouds, the intermittent beams illuminating the burgeoning spring outside my window. Just a quick power nap, I told myself. Then maybe I’ll get back to work. Or at least do some reading, or art, or gardening…

My eyes closed and despite the recent caffeine infusion I immediately slipped into a deep dream.

I’m swimming in a deep and turbulent ocean, battling the waves, working to keep my head above water. I want to just let go. To stop trying so hard.

Drowning really wouldn’t be such a bad way to go, I find myself thinking. Just give it up to the sea.

 So I let go, and then I’m sinking, sinking. It’s beautiful. But water fills my mouth. Panicked I try to swim  upwards. I can see the surface of the water, the sun shimmering above it. But it’s  too far up, I’ve sunk nearly to the ocean floor.

The panic gives way to relief. This is it then.

Next I’m flailing on hard ground, I’m spitting out water, surrounded by strangers. I’m rescued, I’m alive! I don’t know how or why, or who these rescuers are.

And then of course I woke up.

What does that mean?? I wondered.

I’d pulled the Angel Card “Surrender”  two days in a row. Both times, I looked at this card and thought, surrender to what?

Down there, in that dreamscape ocean, I surrendered.

I think it has to do with letting go of all the expectations of Ego, of Bitchy Inner Critic. These injunctions that if I don’t meet my self-imposed deadlines and goals that all is lost, I may as well give up, I surely don’t have what it takes.

Surrender is about relinquishing all of that. Surrender is about acceptance and trust and realizing I don’t have to fight and struggle to arrive at my desired destination. In fact, fighting and struggling takes me backward rather than forward.

It’s the opposite of Push. The reverse of “Just Make It Happen.”

It’s about giving up control.

And it’s the antithesis of how I’ve lived so far. Surrender? It just seems weak somehow, not potent. It’s a word for losers. It’s – well, not at all the way my ego wants me to live, or to be seen.

Surrender is incredibly frightening. I have a feeling it will prove to be incredibly empowering.

I’m wondering, what does surrender mean to you? Positive or negative connotations?

24 Responses to The Other Side of Surrender

  1. Great post Sarah! For me surrender means acceptance and it requires tremendous strength and faith to surrender to “what is”. This is something that I strive to do and some days I am wildly successful and other days not so much! I think living from a place of surrender is a lifelong journey.

    • You are so right about that! I think it’s an ongoing process that we have to just take one day at a time. Thanks so much visiting the blog and thanks for your comment.

  2. I too have been struggling with overwhelm and exhaustion and feeling like there was so much to do (all self-imposed) but being crippled by the weight of it all to the point of feeling immobile. I was starting to feel the way I did back at my corporate job, when I would literally have enough work on my plate to keep 3 people busy and was so apathetic to all of it that I would stare blankly at my computer screen for hours on end. But this time around I was the one making the rules, creating the work and setting priorities. So why on earth was I feeling controlled and by what/who?

    With a little help from Danielle LaPorte and all of her juicy making-shit-happen advice, I made the decision to just do what was easiest, to lean into what came naturally and trust that the highest version of my creative power would be waiting for me in that space if only I showed-up to meet it.

    I had to put certain projects on the highest of shelves, away from my reach and my mind’s eye so that they didn’t continue to be a distraction to what comes easiest. I know that they will be there when I’m ready. You can have and do everything you want, just not all at once. So I suppose that is where my surrender has come, in recognizing that “doing it all” has to happen in shifts, not simultaneously, and that at the end of the day, the sequence of my accomplishments are completely unrelated to the totality of my success.

    • What an insightful comment Megan! It makes so much sense to lean in to what comes naturally! Sometimes I get even confused about that though! But yes, it’s waiting if only we can show up to meet it.

      It’s a challenge for the renaissance soul to put some of their ideas and goals up on the shelf for a while. We get freaked out when we can’t do everything. But it’s so true that we CAN do it all, just not all at once. Love this idea of surrender.

  3. I used to think the same about surrender and resisted it like the plague, and thought it meant giving up! Then one day as I was coaching a client, it came up in the conversation and I heard myself saying, “What if surrender was like sinking into a warm bubble bath or like curling up in your favourite armchair with a good book?”

    What if surrender is like that? That shift has made all the difference.

    • Aaaah, what a beautiful vision. Why do we have to picture surrender as waving the white flag, giving up, being trampled. This is a much better version of surrender. This is a shift I like!

  4. Sarah,
    I think we’re twin sisters separated at birth. It was almost spooky reading this. The last month I’ve been overcome by levels of exhaustion that I’ve never felt before. They come on when I least expect (or want) them. And I’ve had these knots in my stomach that I can’t explain, just as you wrote about. All that you have on your plate vs. what your heart wants to do – I couldn’t have explained my current state any better. Weird.
    Instead of having such an explicit dream, I’m working with a company where all I can do is release any perception of control over how I think things should run and to trust the owner of the start-up, trust the process, have faith that everything will be fine. And I’m taking that advice into the rest of my life.
    I’ve been cutting back on commitments and obligations, even those that are moving me closer to my goals, because, like rawkinwellness wisely said, we can have it all but not all at the same time. And I’m feeling so much better.
    It has taken me a week or so to pick a few things to focus on and make sure those few things speak to my heart. I’m making sure that they’re not just more things to do that my monkey mind thinks is ‘important.’
    The more I’ve learned to release control in my life (especially in my marriage), the more my life has been filled with peace and joy and happiness. It doesn’t make sense but it’s absolutely true.
    Surrendering has exposed my issues with trust that I couldn’t see before. Surrendering means to stop fighting the current, stop trying to swim upstream – to simply roll over on my back and go with the flow and trust that it will bring me everything I want better than I could have created by trying to control everything.
    Surrendering and letting go are very good things.
    Thank you for an amazing post!

    • Wow – thank you Paige for all your insight in your comment. I’m so glad you are figuring out how to prioritize our time and energy and distinguishing between monkey mind-driven busywork, and what it is that your heart longs for. This is what it’s all about.

      You make a good point that surrender puts us head to head with our issues and fears about trust. If we are to surrender we must trust – something different than ourselves. It’s an interative process for me. Sometimes I slip back into my old ways. But slowly, slowly with little baby steps these incremental changes can make big breakthroughs. Yes!

  5. Hi Sarah,

    I just happened across your blog and found your great post. Surrender comes up in my life as well. I have weeks where I feel I’m drowning in my own expectations. I can so relate to your time management tool. I just found a program called “things” that I read about today, so downloaded that to try it out. It is a To Do List (another one) that I hope will keep me organized and not feeling stressed. I love having projects and goals in my life, but I too am learning to surrender and sometimes just letting it go.

    • I’m so glad you happened on the blog and enjoyed this post! It’s funny, I have “Things” as a to-do listing tool. I like that you can dump all those things in your mind in one place and categorize them by project etc. It works pretty well, except I can’t figure out how to manually manage the “Today” list – so as usual I go in and out of using it, often slipping back into my disorganized system of jotting down notes and tasks on sticky notes or slips of paper. I just recently resolved to get in all into “Things” and use that as my master plan.

      And yet, sometimes it’s time to just shut that all down , and surrender to what is. That’s how it worked out the other day. And I’m slowly learning to appreciate those lessons.

      Thanks so much for your comment.

  6. Day of Distinction – “The Sign Says Yield, Not Surrender…” « Dancing Through Life with Spirit says:

    […] The Other Side of Surrender ( Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. Filed under choice, lessons in life school, self discovery and tagged Dancing Through Life, distinctions, inspiration, musings, reflections, spirituality, surrender, words, yield | Leave a comment […]

  7. Great post Sarah.. I love your writing.
    Surrender, I am trying, sometimes I do and it feels great, then the TO DO lists take over and even the fun to do list seems stressfull.
    I like the above posters way of describing it,
    “Surrendering means to stop fighting the current, stop trying to swim upstream – to simply roll over on my back and go with the flow and trust that it will bring me everything I want better than I could have created by trying to control everything.”

    Floating in the river or lake is one of my favorite things, the thing that releases me the best, and it has been 2 years! since I have gotten to the water.
    One other thing that often in the moment brings me great surrender is ‘being’ with Bruce when he plays. I hope to have a night of surrender on Sunday and hope to see you there.

    • Sounds like it’s time to get in the water Bobbi! You’re right, floating on my back letting the water gentle cradle me and the sun warm my face is such a beautiful analogy for surrender. Fighting the current is no fun. It’s fun to move forward, to the things we want to accomplish, but then we must find that balance and roll over and float for a while.

      Unfortunately don’t think I’m going to make it to Bruce this time. Very sad about that…but times are tight and CenterArts shows are pricey. Enjoy the music Bobbi. And thanks for your comment!

  8. Surrender to me…. acceptance yes, courage yes, allowing definitely and letting the universe do it’s job of working things out rather than stressing over it myself…. a super duper freakin hard thing to do that is for sure.

    • It’s so hard Lori – you are absolutely right about that. But once we do it there’s an ease we forgot about. And it does take courage. There’s always that thought – how will the world survive without me organizing everything…LOL!

  9. Wow, Sarah, more great writing from you!
    I’ve always thought of surrender in very positive terms. I think it goes along with giving in rather than giving up, something I’ve written about recently. It’s about not resisting and going with the river’s current instead of against it.

    I don’t know how restful your nap was, but you did a lot of work in that dream!

    • You’re lucky Bobbie that surrender has been something you’ve always seen as a positive – make sit so much easier to accept and go with that. And it shows in your writing that you are able to embrace surrender.

      You’re right, the nap wasn’t that restful and I was quite tired all day. IT was hard work – but worth it! Thanks so much for your comment.

  10. Your writing just pulled me right in! Love this.. To me, surrender is a good thing, because it’s something I don’t do often enough. Surrender means giving up control, like you said. This applies in EVERY aspect of my life – give up control over my blog stats, over the weather, over my heart. And just let it all BE. It’s much easier said than done – but I think it’s worth it.

    BTW, I’m so glad you referenced the Busy Beast (that sentence was so funny to me), and you got some rest, despite her attitude. You tell her! 😉

    • Ha ha – yes, I just told the BB to go lie down. And then that’s what i did! But clearly I had some working out to do in the dream world. Giving up control is a hard one for me, and I’m sure that’s why I get so tangled up over the idea of surrender.
      I’m really glad you enjoyed the writing and got to think about giving up the control over all that stuff that’s out of our control. From what I’ve read of your work you have a pretty good handle on this Kaylee! Thanks so much for your comment.

  11. Sarah,
    I love reading your posts – where did you learn to write so well?
    As for surrender — yes, yes and yes! Are you my “evil” twin? Down with all of our lists, I now refer to them as piles of lists… Lol! Half the time I ignore them, easily distracted by the things I most enjoy. Thank you for sharing your own experience with this.

    • Thanks for the comment Lori – and for your kind words about my writing. That means so much to me! I’m so glad you often let yourself ‘surrender’ to the things you enjoy! Those piles of lists will be waiting anyway.

  12. I’m going to channel a friend of mine, Ken Stone, and ask, “What if we are surrendering to the divine masterpiece that awaits us?” I think the tricky part about surrender is finding the balance between taking action and doing the footwork and putting down the reins of control so the Divine can pick them up.

    • Mmmm, this is what I’m going to think about the next time I’m battling surrender. It’s always a balance, but I love this poetry of surrendering to the divine masterpiece awaiting us. Thanks Carol!

  13. I like to look at surrender from the stand point of, “give in to your good,” these days. I still have my Should List, but when I start to get unhappy about my progress-or lack thereof- I try to ask myself will doing that task make my life easier or happier?
    One good way to bring things into focus is to write down what would make a perfect day. It doesn’t have to be realistic. Just what you would do if you had a day with absolutely no restrictions. When I’m done writing my description, I take the time to contemplate the nuances, then I tuck it away to read in 6 months or a year.It’s interesting to see how the list is fulfilled little by little.

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