Moving into Surrender

Photo by Francesco Ungaro on

It’s taken 8 months, several false starts and a year long blog schedule that’s been revamped more than once to land us here. And when I say, here, I don’t mean that we are Being Here in September, too (although of course in reality we are). I am saying that we are moving into Surrender.

We are ending the war with 2020. We are ending the battle with what is. We are letting go. We are moving toward the final stage of grief: acceptance.

This, for better or worse, whether we wanted it or not, is 2020. This is what it means to be alive right now and we don’t have the energy to fight it anymore. Life is complicated in a way we never knew it could be. If you have been alive long enough you have lived through hard times, complicated times and painful times. But this year we have lived with it all, and seemingly all at once. And not a single one of us knows what the hell we are doing. And if you are presenting like you do I would venture to say you are faking it in hopes that it will be true..

Nobody knows what in the world is going on. We are at varying degrees of angry, sad, grief-filled, agitated and thoroughly pissed. This is NOT the year we planned. This is not what we ordered. And we are a people who like life to go according to plan. I mean it rarely does but we like to pretend it does. But when every single other human’s life is a train wreck we are forced to realize that we are not in control. We are forced to realize that no amount of pouting or tantrum-throwing is going to solve the Dumpster fire that is 2020.

Surrender is all that’s left. We must accept what is. Only from this space can we move forward. I appreciate this is difficult but if we don’t, this is how we stay stuck. Let me give you an example. This year, I had big plans for my race schedule. I also had an amazing trip to hike the Grand Canyon on my calendar. I was fully expecting to spend a few evenings under the stars in one of the most magnificent natural formations in the US. And it’s not going to happen. 

I am disappointed. I am a little worried it may never happen. But if I stay in that place of resistance, nothing else will happen.

If I stay in that place, 2 years from now I could still be talking about 2020 and how it ruined that trip I was going to take, how it destroyed my running adventures. 

And before long the pendulum has swung from me believing I am in control of all things to the complete opposite — to being a victim. I trust you can see yourself in this one example. I know we have all had circumstances in our life that we have unwittingly let define us; and not in a good way. When we are still talking about our ex years later. When we are still lamenting the job we didn’t take; or did. There are thousands of scenarios and nearly all of us have one that we can’t quite shake. But what if it’s more that we won’t let it go? We let it define us. We made more meaning out of it then there needed to be.

This is where surrender comes in. It’s the ability to stay grounded in the present and be hopeful for the future. It’s also being able to look at the experience you are in and know you need to have response-ability.

I write response-ability in this way because it’s moving ourselves out of the blame paradigm. Long-term blame doesn’t do much for us except drain our power. When we place blame on others or ourselves (even if it’s deserved) at some point it loses its usefulness. If we blame others for the state of our life, we are saying we have no power to effect change. And if we blame ourselves, we are believing we cannot trust ourselves because of a mistake or some other distorted thinking. 

If we are response-able, we can look at the moment, in real time and ask ourselves, what do I need to do, need to know to shift this, or shift my attitude? Sometimes it’s as simple as this: 2020 has not been the year I hoped for and I feel disappointed and for those who had major plans like weddings this year, you may be heartbroken. Stop looking for a loophole. Grieve it, genuinely. Don’t sit on the phone or Facebook endlessly complaining, but sit with yourself, talk it out, write it out and understand all the ways this has hurt you, pained you. Write down all the beliefs that your mind is wanting to create for you in an effort to make sense of it. Also recognizing that those meanings may be limiting, they may keep you stuck. 

If your wedding was postponed, maybe you feel your brain offering you things like, it was never meant to be; things like this always happen to me, my life never works out.

See how this mental spiral can hang around for years? But we can’t skip steps. We have to stay in the present. If you are devastated right now, feel it. Process it all the way through so you can release it  and it will release you. As Carl Jung is known for saying: what you resist not only persists, but will grow in size.”

If we want to move forward this year, this is what we have to do. The answer, I don’t believe, is to give up on the year and just stop doing all the things like exercise, going to class, making creative pandemic plans, etc. The answer is not to pack it in and emotionally numb out and hibernate until 2021. 

It is to sit in the space you are in and ask yourself: OK what can I do with the situation, with myself etc exactly as is today? What is this telling me about myself, my life? Does that mean we are looking for ways to blame ourselves for how we’ve handled a pandemic? No.

It’s potentially asking myself, how do I let challenging circumstances send me into all or nothing thinking? How do I interpret difficulty and challenges? Do I see them as ways to grow or proof my life is over?

Knowing these tendencies about yourself allow you to stop fighting with the same weapons that keep bringing you back to the same place. It will feel uncomfortable to stop fighting what is. It will feel like we are agreeing and condoning. We are not, we are asking ourselves, OK I am lost in the woods, what now? Do I want to die here complaining and lamenting about it, or do I want to consider how this could teach me how to save myself?

This is how we move forward by doing the most counter-intuitive thing we can imagine: surrender to the moment. This is where I am. This is how it feels. This is what I need to know, learn, do, or not do, next. 

Who knows, with this new attitude, 2020 could be the most difficult, amazing transformation yet. 

Sunshine & Sarcasm,
Lowi & G

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