My Word of the Year 2017: Surrender

In Michael Brown’s book The Presence Process I learned the new way to look at the concept of surrender.

I used to think of it as giving up.  Accepting things as they are and not attempting to change.  For example, surrendering meant I would accept my mediocrity as a a guitarist and wouldn’t practice.

But there is another way to look at this.  You can choose what you surrender to.  And depending on which way you surrender, the act may be anything but giving up.

In The War of Art Steven Pressfield defined the concept of Resistance.  Resistance comes up when you try to do anything worthwhile in your life, from exercise to art to self improvement.  I struggled to implement good routines like daily practice and exercise because of Resistance (which is not an excuse, just an observation).  I used to think it’s because I didn’t have enough willpower.

At its heart, Resistance is an impulse to avoid uncomfortable experiences.  To choose what is easy and lazy.

But there, I can choose to give up my Resistance.  I can choose to surrender.  I can choose to fully experience Resistance and still give in to my commitment.

The daily blogging I’ve been surrendering to the last few weeks is an example.  Ideally I get up early and do it the first thing, but many days I sleep in and am running late.  And many other days I feel like I have nothing to say.  Still I surrender and open up WordPress.  I fully experience the feeling of overwhelm and inadequacy.  Some days I don’t even want to get up.  But I surrender to my day.

Before, I was trying to create results and experiences through willpower and control.  I was trying to make things happen.  But I need to learn the lesson of letting go.  Detach the experiences I want from how they are to come about.  Show up and give in to uncomfortable feelings.  The more I embrace my discomfort, the greater my emotional muscle will grow.  I will be able to glide through life with ease and grace, when I have less of the emotional baggage pulling me down.

This is still a brand new concept to me, there are many places in my life where I’m resisting and then fighting it with willpower.  I’m looking forward to learning how to surrender.