Surrender vs. Control
Most of the time, I go into a yoga class with a clear intention of something I'm struggling with, want to let go of, or to have an hour to myself to calm my mind. I went into hot yoga unexpectedly this past Sunday with turmoil in my mind, a sunburn and an impromptu workout with a good friend. Note to self: don't do hot yoga with a sunburn.
The yoga instructor shared her intention with the class of the two different notions of knowing when to "surrender" vs. "control."
These words hit me like daggers. Was she in my head? I've been experimenting with both areas, exploring where I could let go of control vs. where I could take more charge.
I think many of us can relate around disliking uncertainty and surrendering while requiring control.
Why? Many roots of these feelings track back to your upbringing and carry with you as an adult. Think back to your past – are there situations or people that you couldn't control as a child that caused you pain? As a young adult, were there uncertain times in your life that had you grasping for a sense of security? Have you had to surrender whether it was justified or not?
Perhaps you have a decent balance, but lose control in certain situations.
An area I've chosen to surrender to recently is to learn more balance of "being" vs. "doing." It's hard for me to even write about it because I don't like to admit it's something I need to make a conscious effort around. But sometimes when you look under the carpet, you find a lot of dust piled up that you've just disregarded for too many seasons.
The "being" I'm talking about is nothing to do, without an agenda for enough time to relax your frantic mind. For example, reading for an hour or more, having no plans, maybe even watching Netflix without being on your phone, or just sitting with your thoughts. No distractions, no social media, only you. How often have you had that this past week?
These past few months, I realized I'm a bit of a workaholic – an extreme "do-er." I know I'm not alone.
I don't stop. If I stop, I think of more things I can do, more events I can go to and learn more, new projects, etc. I have this deep passion for learning and doing. It is a comfort for me; it is exciting; it makes me feel alive.
But the cost of this is the eventual burnout since I hadn't yet realized I needed balance (I know Mom, you told me so). Have you ever felt pure exhaustion? You are beyond emotionally and physically tired, but if you're always moving, how can it catch up to you? That is my default mode I abruptly got introduced at the end of last year when my body shut down.
In result, I am trying to adopt the "work smarter, not harder" mantra. That if I focus my efforts and not try to EVERYTHING, because it's not all necessary.
I've taken May to focus on not planning any events, enjoying life and what it means to let my brain just be, take away the pressure to be always doing. Instead of 5 hour sleep nights, I've found myself getting 8-10 throughout the week. Okay so I've gone extreme and still have some 6-7 hour average nights, but I'm allowing my body to reset. I feel like a new person.
Are there areas in your life where this reset could benefit you? Where could the weight become a little lighter? Less stress, more joy.
My relationship with surrendering is evolving. We don't always need to be strong, to be on, and to be doing. Give yourself permission to surrender when you're resisting or avoiding something that your mind and body genuinely need.
I will admit I like to have control – who doesn't? I watched my Mom growing up controlling her situation the best she could as a single Mother. I learned how to be independent and have the drive to make it happen yourself no matter what the odds are against you.
Sure, control can be a double edge sword at times, but there are a lot of benefits in taking control, for example, taking charge of what you want in life.
It's too easy to talk ourselves out of something because we are scared of judgment, failure, and uncertainty. These thoughts often prevent us from even starting.
All of this ties back to our mindset and the experiences we've had throughout our lives. For example, one of my lifelong fears was public speaking. I rarely was the first to speak in a room, and you wouldn't ever catch me in front of an audience unless necessary for the shortest amount of time.
I disregarded the discomfort as something I needed to address. I admitted I was defeated, that I just wasn't ever going to be comfortable speaking. I closed that box without a need deal with it.
But I finally caved in acknowledging this fear was real a few years ago at a public speaking event. Sweating bullets and not wanting to share in front of the group, I realized how severe, yet silly it was for me to be so scared. I needed to take control and face it if my life depended on it.
I started attending any events and seminars I could on public speaking. I later worked up the courage to join Toastmasters, a club to build leadership and public speaking skills. I invested and worked with a coach who changed my life.
Within months I found myself in front of a room, leading my Glass Half Full Mindset workshops. It was the first time in my life I felt calm speaking in public. Is it ironic it was speaking my truth, my purpose?
Maybe that is what we're drawn to; the one thing keeping us from our purpose could be the one thing we have sealed in a box.
Now I continue to show up. I put time into practicing, into speaking whenever I can. I am in love with public speaking (said very few people ever).
Taking control starts with taking a step, then a few more.
Eventually, in time, you realize how your mindset starts to shift; how what once seemed impossible isn't that scary.
So I want you to ask yourself, what can you take control of that you might be avoiding? Maybe it's something that needs your attention, but you've been putting it off because it's daunting.
Get curious about it. Dive into why it makes you uncomfortable and see if there's a small step you can take to bring it in a different direction. What do you have to lose?
Don't surrender to taking control of your life.
As our yoga class came to an end, the instructor shared her final intentions with us. I laid there with tears in my eyes and quietly realized you need both. At that moment, I surrendered to the truth I was avoiding. I also needed to take control and not let it go because that was the easier route.
Lean into yourself – what do you need to surrender? What could use more control?