I used to think so. I was of the mind that if I couldn’t will it to happen, I was doing something wrong. If I didn’t get that job, earn that grade or have that happiness I wanted, then I just needed to try harder. While this thinking resulted in me being a very hard worker, it did not result in much serenity (or happiness). Instead of living realistically in our world filled with complexity (living in the gray), I would swing from one extreme to the other. I was up when things went my way and down when they didn’t.

It made sense to me to take full responsibility for all things. If I gave up some of that responsibility and surrendered, I’d be shirking my responsibilities! That went against all of my values! Plus, isn’t surrender what someone does when they’re defeated? You know, waving the white flag and all? I wasn’t going to admit I felt defeated. Then I’d be weak!

Historically, yes, people surrender when they feel defeated. However, here is where the misconception lies. Defeated? Perhaps. But, weak? No. This is a matter of perception. It is not weak to surrender. It is a necessary gift. It is necessary because whatever tactic we’ve employed up to the point of surrender has stopped working. To halt using an ineffective technique is not a weak move but a strong one. The gift is that without feeling defeated, we may never have been willing to wave our white flag.

To surrender is to acknowledge that we are not responsible for everything. It is to accept that no matter how hard we try, we can’t stop the tide or change the past or make someone do something. To surrender is to be open and willing to acting in a way that is suggested instead of in a way that we would will.

That said, it isn’t easy to surrender (Successful Spring). We resist. After a while, surrender becomes less extreme and more of a challenging yet gentle, daily exercise. Defeat is the vehicle that can turn us toward surrender. And for some of us, surrender is 180 degrees from where we began.