Friday, March 25, 2011

they say it so much better than I do

Thoughts on surrender from people who aren't me:

All compromise is based on give and take, but there can be no give and take on fundamentals. Any compromise on mere fundamentals is a surrender. For it is all give and no take.
Mohandas Gandhi
(I've said this, just not as well...)

At fifteen life had taught me undeniably that surrender, in its place, was as honorable as resistance, especially if one had no choice.
Maya Angelou

If you surrender completely to the moments as they pass, you live more richly those moments.
Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Love is an attempt at penetrating another being, but it can only succeed if the surrender is mutual.
Octavio Paz

The creative process is a process of surrender, not control.
Julia Cameron

Better indeed is knowledge than mechanical practice. Better than knowledge is meditation. But better still is surrender of attachment to results, because there follows immediate peace.
Bhagavad Gita

When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.
Arnold Schwarzenegger

Surrender is faith that the power of Love can accomplish anything even when you cannot forsee the outcome.
Deepak Chopra

Surrendering completely to love, be it human or divine, means giving up everything, including our own well-being or our ability to make decisions. It means loving in the deepest sense of the word.
Paulo Coelho

Completion comes not from adding another piece to ourselves but from surrendering our ideas of perfection.
Mark Epstein

Have additional ones? That's what the comments are for!

what I learned about surrender

Another great call on another great topic!

We opened the call talking about the yin and yang of surrender, how there's good surrender and bad surrender (as I discussed in my last post). And that led us to talk about bad surrender, or "surrendering to temptation" -- which, we agreed, was very similar to getting lost in unhealthy passion. What is it that tempts us to surrender things we hold dear, and what is it that reminds us to dig in our heels and stand up for ourselves?

Some of us surrender to others so we can have "peace" or "tranquility" -- the upset stays within us, where we can control it. Others surrender to others in hopes of getting what they want. There is also that alluring sense of "I'm not supposed to do this" in surrendering to temptation; a feeling that we're getting away with something.

So what do we get when we hold strong? A stronger relationship with our higher selves. A sense that we are being guided by what's best for us instead of what we want right now. An alignment with our fate. I call this part of myself the Babysitter Self. She keeps me from eating late at night, drinking too much, or calling someone who drives me nuts just because I'm lonely.

And how do we get to hang out with the higher self? By making decisions that are in alignment with our values. To do that, my relationship with my coach (the indomitable Robin Jones) has been incredibly valuable. His faith in me has helped me build my strength in myself and, on those unpleasant occasions when my strength goes on vacation, knowing that he believes in me has propelled me to great victories. Similarly, my sister has been an incredible source of strength for me, loving me in her tough and gentle way. (The idea of admitting to my sister that I surrendered a value I hold dear is enough to make me think twice about doing it.)

Interestingly enough, we also uncovered that surrender is both about acceptance and release -- which is kind of funny if you think of that as something coming in and something going out. When we accept things the way they are, we surrender to reality (as it is) instead of fantasy (as we would like it to be). When we release expectations, we can accept things more easily, and have fewer expectations. It's like a snake eating its tail... except more beautiful and less gross.

I admitted on the call to not having felt the "religious" experience of surrender -- some big, sweeping emotion taking me over and letting myself dive into the depths of it. I've wanted that all month, and it hasn't happened. (In fact, just the opposite, as I've found myself in a position that required me to hold quite firm.) But that sparked a discussion about trusting the universe, letting go and letting god, and the challenge of having faith; believing that if I stop searching for something that the universe will provide it for me.

Surrender's not over yet, but already I've found myself focusing more on Release than surrender. Because releasing is something I can do -- I can release the judgments I have about myself. I can release the beliefs I have about aging. And I can release them more gracefully than I can surrender to them.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

the opposite of surrender

There is an element to surrender that's about capitulation and letting go of the expectation that things are going to go your way. And that can be a beautiful thing if you're surrendering, say, an addiction or a destructive habit. It's another thing all together, though, to surrender something important to you.

When I am challenged by someone wanting to change a belief of mine, I will almost certainly consider the other person's argument. Let's say someone wanted to tell me that coaching doesn't work, or that Sarah Palin would be a good president. I would disagree, reach out to his or her side to find common ground -- i.e., times when coaching doesn't work, or times when Sarah looks cute in a suit -- and then return to my own idea to reexamine it in light of the new perspective. Sometimes I change my mind, and sometimes I don't.

If I were to surrender my belief, though, immediately upon questioning, or just because it was questioned, I would be chipping away at the collection of beliefs I have that make up me. Some of them I'm willing to discard or surrender, but others are too valuable to me.

What I'm saying is that there's a time for surrender, and there's a time for digging in your heels and standing up for what's important to you.

So how do I know when to surrender, and when to hold fast? I make mistakes. I surrender something I shouldn't, once, and decide not to do it again next time. Or I hold fast to an idea far longer than it serves me. So I try really hard not to beat myself up for my mistakes because without them, I wouldn't know better the next time. I also try to surround myself with people who understand that I am continuing to grow, and that being around me will occasionally lead to experimentation and failure.

And it will also, undoubtedly, lead to great success.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Surrender Dorothy!

Before this month, the last time I thought about surrender was either while watching a WWII movie or during a Dove chocolate commercial (probably playing in the middle of the movie).

So I have to say that tackling this topic has been slightly unwieldy. It's not a common occurrence for us to face surrender -- or to surrender things. Or is it?

The first thing I discovered about surrender is that there is always an opposing force. Either I surrender something (like my dignity, say, when I run into the door frame at work in front of a class full of students) or I surrender to something (like giving in to my urge for a Take 5 at work*). But if I'm surrendering something, I'm giving it away to someone or something, and if I surrender to something I'm giving IN to someone or something. One cannot surrender in a vacuum. (One can, however, surrender TO a vacuum. Another story all together.)

The second thing I'm learning about surrender is that it's not 100% virtuous. At first I was attempting to surrender my misconceptions, my expectations, and my demands, while at the same time surrendering to the current moment, the situation at hand, or the flow of the universe. And then I realized that there are times at which surrender isn't called for, and yet I surrender anyway. (See Take 5 comment, above.)

So the challenge for surrender is about striking an adequate balance between releasing what doesn't serve me, and releasing into what does.

I'm beginning to examine the difference between surrender and submission, surrender and resignation, surrender and quitting, and surrender and relinquishing. While these are all pretty heady distinctions, I think they're important because the other words all have a negative connotation to me, but surrender doesn't.

Though maybe it should...

Luckily, I still have half a month to consider it.

Join me? I've got another call scheduled on Sunday, March 21st at 4:30 p.m. Surrender to it!

Oh, and p.s. Do you know where "Surrender Dorothy" comes from? I'm surprised at the number of people who haven't been getting my reference...

*in my defense, have you ever HAD a Take 5? Chocolate, peanut butter, pretzels, rich, single millionaires... all in one bite!