I hate the idea of needing to surrender. And that hatred has caused me a world of problems. For me, surrendering is loaded with negative connotations (might have something to do with that degree in history). How about you? What if we dig into surrendering and see if it’s getting a bad rap.

Let’s start with one of the 4 definitions of surrender from the Merriam-Webster online dictionary: to yield to the power, control or possession of another upon compulsion or demand.

Wow. That’s strong. We could read that definition and think surrender is for the weak. We might even think it indicates losing.

A Higher Source of Knowledge

I work hard at interpreting surrender as yielding control to a higher source of knowledge – the Universe, God, higher power, the collective unconscious, whichever works for you.

And there’s that word again, control! I believe that the ability to surrender to a higher source of knowledge indicates that we realize we don’t have all the answers. And, more importantly, that we know we can’t find the answers by applying our limited knowledge to a situation.

When we try to maintain control by forcing an outcome imposed by our own agendas, we frequently lose. For example, when I taught, I had to have lesson plans. Ideally, we’re supposed to follow the lesson plans. But there were days when what was going on in the classroom and my lesson plans were at odds.

Forcing your agenda doesn’t work

When I tried to force my way through those plans, they failed every single time. Why? Maybe I hadn’t realized the students weren’t ready for the material. Maybe I wasn’t ready to deliver the material. It didn’t really matter. What mattered was that I soldiered on (!) acting as if I had no other choice. I wasn’t yielding to that higher source of knowledge – yes, the kids could be a higher source of knowledge – and it was miserable.

Surrender to the wisdom in the situation

But on those days that I tuned in, loosened the reins, and surrendered to the situation, I was able to create a bridge between where the kids were that day and what they needed to learn. When I found my flexibility, we all made progress.

In Episode 72 of our Uniquely Brilliant Podcast, Diana and I discuss the importance of surrendering as a means to finding our way forward.

Expanded Show Notes:

  • Surrender is a loaded word for many people because it’s frequently perceived as giving up.
  • When we surrender to that higher source of knowledge, we release our death grip on the belief that we have all the answers.
  • Surrendering creates the space for us to gain perspective and insight on our lives.

Surrender requires trust

  • Surrendering requires trust in the process, other people, and the Universe.
  • When we surrender to a plan, we create space in our heads to implement the plan and see if works.
  • Surrendering to a plan is an amazingly effective way to stomp down our resistance to change.
  • Surrendering to the boundaries of a situation allows us to focus on what’s important, so the situation can follow its course, not ours.
  • When we measure our progress and see the results of following a plan, it makes it easier to surrender!

Surrendering creates space for progress

  • When we surrender to a process, we can quit struggling against it, and save our energy for doing productive work.
  • We spend a lot of energy trying to impose our own solutions on problem situations when it would have been better to surrender and let solution unfold in its own time.
  • We tend to forget that we’ve successfully surrendered before!
  • Since surrendering requires trusting that the answer to our dilemma lies outside our knowledge, when we refuse to surrender we can get caught up in a Lack mentality – feeling like there’s not enough.
  • Surrendering to a program, plan, or higher knowledge can leave us feeling lighter than air.
  • When we surrender in one area of our lives, we create space to focus on other areas.

Surrender equals growth