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The Power of Surrender: Why Giving Up is an Act of Courage and Wisdom

In our culture the notion of surrendering has a negative connotation to it. It means you’ve been defeated and that you’re powerless. But if you look to the world’s wisdom traditions you’ll find that the idea of surrendering is a courageous act that creates more insight and freedom from the unnecessary mental struggles of life. 

The 13th century Sufi poet Rumi uses a wonderful metaphor to bring this to life:

Very little grows on jagged rock.

Be ground. Be crumbled,

so wildflowers will come up

where you are.

You’ve been stony for too many years.

Try something different.

Surrender.

Many of us harden into patterns of life that keep the struggle going. We can’t seem to let go of the self-judgment because our brain believes it’s there to keep us in line. We numb out to the world through eating, drinking, over-use of social media, among so many other ways.

Question: Why is our brain so afraid of surrendering our unhealthy patterns of thinking and behaving?

Answer: Because the alternative means to be vulnerable. The brain works off of an archaic understanding of life, where to be vulnerable means the threat of being killed.

But when the ground is crumbled it opens up the crack so light can shine in and wildflowers can bloom.

Think about what would happen if you stopped trying to fight the so-called “demons” in the mind and instead worked on taming them.

How do you tame the inner demons?

It’s a process of uncovering what they need. What’s behind self-judgment is often times fear. That means somewhere inside we are afraid and need to be soothed.

When there is pain involved, there is an awareness of the pain and the attention has this quality of wanting to be supportive in some way. It is a quality of care and self-compassion. What’s getting in the way of you giving yourself more self-compassion as a path to taming the inner demons?

"If all you did was put your hand on your heart and wish yourself well it would be a moment well spent." ~ The Now Effect
“If all you did was put your hand on your heart and wish yourself well it would be a moment well spent.” ~ The Now Effect

After all, when it comes down to it, there is truly no one more deserving of happiness than you. I promise.

As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.

PS – If you want to get stared on integrating mindfulness, self-compassion and balance into your life, start with the new 28 Day eCourse, Basics of Mindfulness Meditation: A 28 Day Program. 
The Power of Surrender: Why Giving Up is an Act of Courage and Wisdom

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is creator of the six month online program A Course in Mindful Living, author of the book Uncovering Happiness: Overcoming Depression with Mindfulness and Self-Compassion, The Now Effect, co-author of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, Foreword by Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of Mindfulness Meditations for the Anxious Traveler: Quick Exercises to Calm Your Mind, the premier eCourse Basics of Mindfulness Meditation: A 28 Day Program, the Mindful Solutions audio series, and the Mindfulness at Work™ program currently being adopted in multiple multinational corporations. Join The Now Effect Community for free Daily Now Moments and a Weekly Newsletter. Dr. Goldstein is a clinical psychologist in private practice in West Los Angeles.


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APA Reference
Goldstein, E. (2014). The Power of Surrender: Why Giving Up is an Act of Courage and Wisdom. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 26, 2019, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/mindfulness/2014/04/the-power-of-surrender-why-giving-up-is-an-act-of-courage-and-wisdom/

 

Last updated: 9 Apr 2014
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 9 Apr 2014
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.