By Kristen Fischer
It seems easy to surrender, but it can take more than telling ourselves “get over it” in order to truly release. Whether it’s a failed relationship, childhood trauma or a disease, we often hang on so tightly to things and fail to live in the present – something most experts say is vital for true happiness.
“The misconception that people have with surrender is that it’s weakness or defeat,” says Judith Orloff, a California-based psychiatrist and author of “The Ecstasy of Surrender: 12 Surprising Ways Letting Go Can Empower Your Life.” She continues: “The missing piece to success and health is surrender.”
Orloff says surrender is not about giving up or giving in … it’s about giving over. This involves “conscious, empowered decision making.” Sometimes letting go happens quickly; in other situations it takes time work through the process.
Release and Recharge
Want to let go of what no longer serves you? It starts with awareness. Do you expect yourself to heal instantly from a broken relationship? Are you determined to be correct in a conflict? Are you focused on the negative aspects of a situation? Think about how surrendering will benefit you, Orloff says. In knowing your intentions and spotting places where you’re holding on, you can begin to loosen your grip.
“Surrender is a healing process,” Orloff says. “It isn’t always a one-time deal.” Once you begin to let go of little things, you can tackle more complex issues. It gets easier as you go, she says.
Another aspect of the surrender process is practicing gratitude. For example, dealing with an illness may bring up fear and anger issues that one can get wrapped up in, but you can lessen those emotions and remind yourself that you’re grateful to be alive. It shifts you to a more positive place instead of hanging on to damaging feelings from the past. Set an intention to let go and try to ease up on controlling situations, then accept the outcomes. Surrendering can also be as easy as heading to yoga class because breathing is another natural flow that helps us focus on the present.
Letting Go of Self-Sabotage
Melissa Garcia, a stylist from New York City, says her surrender came when she gave herself permission to end her 10-year law career and go into the fashion arena. One day when talking to a friend about seizing the moment, it all clicked – she gave notice to leave her job and started her now-thriving business.
“Most of all, I have set an example for my three children that it’s okay to let go of something that is making you unhappy, even if it is hard to do,” she says.
Releasing the Need to Control
Several years ago, Dede Cummings had to have a bowel resection related to Crohn’s disease. She hadn’t been taking care of herself, admits the part-time New York City resident.
“When I was sick, I had to ask for help for the first time in my life. When I became less self-sufficient, I had to let go of the old me, and show the other side of myself to people,” she says. That meant being vulnerable and admitting she needed assistance. It wound up opening her up to being loved and living a more carefree life. According to Orloff, Cummings new outlook a good example of living a surrendered, content life.
Cummings still works at relaxing her Type A personality, and repeats mantras and affirmations to reinforce her more go-with-the-flow attitude.
Hara Taicher, a wellness coach based in New York City, uses the power of positive words – via the ancient Hawaiian ritual of Ho’oponopono – to let go. The practice, which she studied in Maui, centers on the phrases “I’m sorry,” “Please forgive me,” “Thank you” and “I love you.”
A simple act, such as burning a letter, can help you release negative feelings, but you don’t have to travel across an ocean to learn how to let go. In surrendering yourself to accept the past and live more boldly in the future, contentment is closer than ever.