My affirmation is to surrender with faith, let go, and be open to where the current takes me.As much as I try to squash my affinity for perfection and control, I am in a constant struggle with that Type A+ part of myself. (See, I couldn’t even put Type A; I had to have the A+). This part of me has caused me much stress, many sleepless nights, and a very wrinkly-furrowed brow. Lately, I am working on releasing the illusion of the perfect outcome and plunking myself squarely in the moment instead.
When it comes right down to it, my obsession with control comes mostly from a place of fear. I want a certain outcome because my life will be ruined if it doesn’t happen just the way I envision it. It goes a little like this:
- If I don’t get that job or that raise, I’m scared I’ll end up homeless under a bridge.
- If my house isn’t spic-and-span tidy, people might discover I’m not perfect (what?), and then they won’t like me.
- If I get up front of that crowd of 200 people, my mouth is going to go dry, my mind is going to go blank, and words are just going to tumble out like a messy stream of verbal diarrhea.
- If my son misbehaves in public, everyone will know the secret I’ve carefully hidden for years: I’m a bad mom.
- If this case gets denied because I missed that deadline, my client is going to sue me for everything I’m worth, I’m going to get fired for my obvious incompetency, and then I’m going to have to live under that bridge.
And on and on and on…
When I’m trekking in the land of scary “what if’s,” I am not clear-headed or calm; I am not seeing the bigger picture. I’m panicking and marinating in the reality of the worst possible outcome. Choosing actions from that place of fear is like making decisions while you’re slowly being submerged in quicksand. Ironically, when I’m in that space, I am not in control at all.
Another illusion of control is when I lodge myself in an area or sphere that is clearly none of my business. When I expend energy trying to control how friends and family are living their lives, I am wasting my time and setting myself up for disappointment. It turns out we are not in control of other people and the choices they make. Shocking!
Slowly and painstakingly, with a grimace as wide as my ego, I am trying to make the leap from control to surrender. Making this shift is challenging because it involves that scary word, “faith.” When I feel myself in that constricted space of trying to manipulate and control all the details in my life, I am consciously trying to change that energy and just experience life instead of controlling it. I have to have faith that I am on the right path and that my life will unfold exactly the way it is intended to. This does not mean I will sit idly on my couch eating bon-bons and passively wait for my life to unfold. It just means I will continue to go forward, do my best, and be open to where my path takes me.
Consider this: God may have bigger plans for you and me than we could ever imagine in our tiny little brains. If we try to control and over-think every loop and turn in the path, we may never experience that glory-filled vision.
Surrendering is the ultimate freedom to let go and walk the path that God (the universe, spirit, whatever you want to say) has set in front of us. If we can let go of the details and the soul-crushing anxiety, we can be open to where things take us. Instead of fighting the current and doing things the hard way, we can surrender and just float downstream. Why fight and thrash when you can float?
Of course, the act of surrendering does not mean that things won’t go wrong in our lives. Life is hard and sometimes cruel (like when NBC cancelled Parenthood, for instance). We even have to surrender to the things that don’t seem fair or are hard, accepting these dips and valleys as part of the plan as well. For me, it sometimes takes years to look back and realize why something happened the way it did. Hindsight often gives us the perspective that a negative event was a blessing in some way.
Surrendering to suffering, although difficult, can open us up to learning about ourselves, our relationships, and the complementary and inseparable emotions of life. Sorrows make joy that much richer; broken hearts make full hearts feel like they’re bursting at the seams. As Kahlil Gibran writes in his poem, On Joy and Sorrow:
Your joy is your sorrow unmasked…
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain..
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
No matter if we are surrendering to suffering or to the ebb and flow of everyday life, the idea is to let go of controlling the outcome and consciously re-route ourselves to the moment in front of us. With just a little bit of faith that everything is going to be okay, we can choose to be immersed instead of stressed. My affirmation is to surrender with faith, let go, and be open to where the current takes me.
Photo credit: Solange Swafford