Surrender: Why Life Works Best When You Let Go of ControlJun 16, 2019
On Sunday afternoon, I still didn’t know what Monday’s blog post was going to be about. Okay, big whoop. But, this is unusual for me! Though I tend to be a procrastinator, I usually at least know what I’m going to write about. I couldn’t help but feel slightly disappointed in myself.
And it really is silly because I blog for the enjoyment of it yet still hold myself to a really high standard. Like, to a fault, I’d say. If I say I’m going to do something, I do it. I hate when I’m not able to be that person.
Anyway, I didn’t have much time left in the day to write. I was driving an hour east to visit my best friend, Jenna, in Canyon Lake. So, while I sat in traffic on the 91 freeway, I turned my music down and started pitching blog ideas to myself.
Total crazy person.
I felt defeated as nothing really stuck. I’d told myself earlier in the weekend that I’d let it go; that the right idea would come to me. Yet here I was, desperately racking my brain for the right idea.
For the next few hours, I really did let go. I spent the afternoon on the lake with Jenna and her family. It was 85 degrees, I was catching up with people I rarely get to see. It was the perfect afternoon. After a relaxing pontoon ride admiring the homes on the lake, it was time for me to make the trek back to Orange County.
The pit in my stomach reminded me I still didn’t have Monday’s post figured out.
Ugh, come on Alissa! I can’t believe you left it until the last minute.
Just Surrender and Trust It’ll All Be Okay
As I started my drive home, I dropped a couple of eye drops into my cloudy contacts. I use these drops all the time but suddenly my eyes were burning. Red, angry, painful.
Was there pepper spray in those eye drops?!
Panic set in. This pain was bad. And I was driving! My fellow contact-wearers can relate.
Crap, what am I going to do? I cannot drive home without my contacts in. I’m blind! Am I going to need to stay over night here now? Should I turn around? I think I need to pull over right now.
Freaking out, I kept rubbing my eyelids to coax out whatever was burning my poor eyes. As a tear drop hit my leg, it dawned on me. Stop fighting it. Let your body flush it out. Surrender. Trust that it’ll be okay.
And so, I did. I relaxed and let the tears build up in my eyes and stream down my face. A few minutes later, I was fine. I was safely on the freeway and my eyes didn’t hurt anymore.
Crisis averted. I couldn’t believe how quickly I’d panicked and gone to the worst case scenario in my head.
Surrender. That’s what my blog post needs to be about, I thought a few moments later. That was my sign from God.
I always feel like I’m this non-planning, go-with-the-flow type of person, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t admit that I’m super attached to certain outcomes. I realized, how often am I actually surrendering?
Life Works Best When We Let Go
This past week, I listened to Gabby Bernstein’s talk on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday podcast three times. She’s just written a book called “5 Steps to Spiritual Surrender” and talked about how the Universe works for you when you let go of control and just surrender.
The five steps are:
- Take your hands off the wheel through prayer.
- Appreciate what’s thriving.
- Recognize that obstacles are detours in the right direction.
- Ask the Universe for a sign.
- When you think you’ve surrendered, surrender more.
To read more about each step, check out the list here.
Like I said, I usually think of myself as this go-with-the-flow type of person, but after listening to her talk, I realized there was a message I needed to hear. Obviously, since I listened to it three times.
I am attached to having a certain outcome. I do want things to happen in line with the timeline I’ve created in my head. I’m guilty of asking and asking until I can get the particular answer I want. I only want people to ever see me in the best light.
What are you trying to control in your life? Is it when you’ll get that ring on your finger? When you’ll get that promotion? When you’ll start your family? What you think your partner should be doing?
Really, though. What makes us think that we actually know best?
In Gabby’s talk, she explains how she desperately tried to plan when she was going to get pregnant. She created her whole schedule around that planned pregnancy, pushing out deadlines and speaking engagements. But after a year of trying, she didn’t have any luck. Her “plan” wasn’t working. She became depressed until a friend woke her up. He was like, “Honey, this is not how we do things. You’ve got to ask the Universe for help.”
She said she realized, “my plans were in the way of God’s plans.”
Don’t you just love that? That hit me right in the heart. I do get so attached to an idea; a vision in my head. I want people to act in the way that I want; in the way that makes me feel most comfortable. I just want the world to go according to my plan.
As if! God/The Universe has greater plans for us. We’re only creating resistance in our lives when we try to fight that. Having set, immovable expectations creates barriers that stop us from being in the flow of what’s meant to come to us.
I know all of that can sound a little woo-woo. so I’ll share an example from my own life and how I’d (unknowingly) followed these steps of surrender.
How the Steps of Surrender Worked in My Life
Candidly, this past winter, I started feeling a little unenthused in my role at work. I’ve been doing the same type of work for almost 5 years and was craving growth. I was ready to move on to a new position. But, the role I wanted was filled so until someone left, I had to stay put.
- Take your hands off the wheel through prayer. I had no choice but to let go of my desire for the time being. I recognized there was nothing I could do to change or control the situation. All I could do was trust that things would work out for me when the time was right.
- Appreciate what’s thriving. Because I knew I’d be in my position for a while longer, there was no use in focusing on what I disliked about it or else I’d be unhappy at work every day. So, I appreciated the good parts of my job– my coworkers; the amazing company I work for; being able to listen to self-development podcasts while I worked so I was able to fulfill my desire for growth in other ways.
- Recognize that obstacles are detours in the right direction. Since I wasn’t feeling totally fulfilled in my job, my mind started to wander. I craved a new challenge. Since I had a little extra down time in my life, I started writing. Something I loved doing as a kid. This sparked the idea to start blogging. If I’d been able to control every aspect of my life and gotten that new job right when I’d wanted it, my blog may have never been born!
- Ask the Universe for a sign. Like I said, I was craving growth during this more “lull” time in my career. I also felt like a missing component in my life was service. I wasn’t doing enough to give back. So, when HR emailed us looking for employees to lead company volunteer projects; I knew this was the sign I was looking for. It aligned with everything I’d been desiring. I signed up and ended up co-leading a volunteer project with a coworker I didn’t know too well. We ended up working really well together and now, months later, he’s going to be my boss in that position I’d been hoping and praying for! The Universe absolutely lines us up with the right people and right situations for our highest good. We just can’t see the plan from down here.
- When you think you’ve surrendered, surrender more. After starting my blog and getting involved in volunteering, I felt fulfilled again every day. I’d looked at my situation and found the pieces to make it better for myself. I’d really let go of my expectations of what’s next because I was focusing on what was working well in my life and going along that path. So, of course, that’s when the role did open up. I really had surrendered, I didn’t have expectations. I wasn’t stuck to any career timeline any more because I just trusted things would work out for me as long as I kept following what lit me up. And they did.
Often, we get so fixated on the results we want. We think we know best because, ya know, we’re the ones living our life. But we can’t see the big picture from above. We don’t know why we’re running into problems and why things just can’t go our way. Really, these obstacles we face were perfectly placed by God. They’re a means for us to evolve; to connect with the right people; to move toward something better than we could’ve imagined for ourselves.
We don’t know what we don’t know, which honestly, I find kind of freeing. All we can do is follow what feels right for us, be a good person, give our best effort, and trust that the Universe has our backs.
When you catch yourself white knuckling that dream of yours, ask yourself: How can I surrender more? How can I trust that it’ll all be okay?
Remember, it’s all part of the plan.