Many of the wisdom traditions speak about the power of surrender. Surrender is not an easy word for those of us in Western civilization, for it implies ‘giving up’, or losing. It may even be associated with a sense of shame. The opposite of surrender might be ‘fighting to the death’.
In my recollection of old war movies, or cowboy movies, surrender only happened, it seemed, when one side clearly had no hope of overpowering the other, and preferred surrender to death. I am writing about a different kind of surrender.
It is developing the ability to surrender to what is, and to that over which we have no control, rather than putting a lot of energy into resistance. It is, after all, a losing battle to resist change. We can rail against the loss of a loved one or a job, aging, children leaving home, the coming of winter, the loss of a relationship, or any of the myriad circumstances that happen to us all. Of course we will grieve our losses, but that is not the same as resisting the changes.
Resisting is the refusal to accept what is, and remaining focused on a wish that it could be different than it is. Surrender is the courageous acceptance of the fact that the kaleidoscope of life keeps turning, and it is not our hand that turns it. It is developing the ability to graciously accept the unfolding of life, and doing our best, despite our pain, and despite the fact that what has happened may well be against our wishes.
When we surrender to our journey, with all of its ups and downs, the energy that may have gone into resistance, is now available for moving on, and, sooner or later, move on we must.
Gwen Randall-Young is an author and award-winning Psychotherapist. For permission to reprint this article, or to obtain books or cds, visit www.gwen.ca