Ever wanted something so bad – a relationship, a job, a winning lottery ticket – that just didn’t come through? Have you ever planned years to achieve something that simply went to someone else, leaving you lost and wondering why? If so, we have some work to do. We have some letting go to do. We have some surrendering to do.
Surrender: Let Go and Allow the Flow
Every single time we make a plan and we think it’s going to go the way we want it to, we’re spending all of that time planning for something that hasn’t even happened yet. So, when life comes at you with your worst, you have a choice: to stand there, accept it and move forward, or put it off and say, ‘Maybe later.’ But my suggestion, and the only thing I’ve ever known, is that now is everything – so enjoy it.
– Selena Gomez
I love Oprah‘s story about how she got the role as Sophia in the movie version of The Color Purple. It happened after a period of crippling discouragement where she was led to audition for the film, only to be told she wasn’t a “real actress” — and asked how dare she have the temerity to turn up to audition alongside all the other real actresses in the first place.
She felt betrayed; like she had been guided toward failure by God. She even went as far as believing that perhaps the reason she didn’t get the part was because of her weight. So she went to a fat farm, and after running round the track for multiple laps, she stopped, cried, and started to sing the Christian hymn, “I Surrender All.”
What she understood was that the only way to get over and move forward from her disappointment was to surrender it. To give it up. She had to imagine herself being content with seeing another actress in the role she craved, to be able to say, “Actually, it was a good thing she got it and not me.”
And that was when the miracle happened. Shortly after this brief but beautiful moment of surrender, she received a phone call from Steven Spielberg offering her the part. The key? She let go and allowed the flow to do its work.
Life follows no plan
We probably each have a million things like this we could let go of. Job promotions, audition callbacks, decisions from publishers. If only we could recognize that clinging is a form of resistance. Clinging is putting out the message that we are not worthy, and that if things do not happen exactly as we’ve planned them, we’re doomed. And what happens when we cling, when we resist? Our disappointments persist.
To surrender isn’t to stop trying; it’s to recognize that when we have tried our best, we’re allowed to be content and at ease with ourselves regardless of the outcome. It is a deep acceptance that if this one thing doesn’t work out, there is something greater for us in store. Just watching this video of Lisa Kudrow’s speech about the obstacles and setbacks she faced before ending up on the hit TV show Friends will confirm that for you.
What would happen if you could let go of your picture-perfect plans now, if you could give yourself permission to be enough now, if you could trust the flow of your life now? I guarantee your surroundings would change. Because as Eckhart Tolle said, “If you get the inside right, the outside will fall into place.”
Have a dream, and let it go
Surrendering is about having an intention, working as hard as possible toward that intention, and then, in the words of Jim Carrey, “Letting go of how it comes to pass.” Getting bogged down in the specifics can block you… And it’s also much less fun! What would there be to live for if everything always went according to plan? If we knew exactly how our lives would pan out moment by moment? It might be awesome for a minute (I admit!), but after that minute expires, it would be like exhausting all of the cheat codes on your favorite video game in one sitting: you’d be left with an empty feeling like you’ve done it all, and you’d want to play something else. It’s no way to perceive your entire life.
Once again in the words of Oprah Winfrey: “Have the dream and then surrender it to that which is greater than yourself.” Have the dream, love the dream, nurture the dream, water the dream, work fiercely and diligently toward the dream – but then when all that work is said and done, have the courage to let it go.