Posted by Jill Whalen | Posted in Spiritual Teachings, Thought | Posted on 02-05-2016
Tags: 3 Principles, Surrender
[Jill’s Note: If you prefer to listen rather than read, please scroll to the bottom of this post for the audio version.]
It’s becoming clearer to me that much of–if not all–our suffering is caused by our desire to control ourselves, our surroundings and others. Yet in reality, it’s impossible.
Let’s start with our surroundings.
While we can sort of control where we live and how we keep our home, if anyone else lives with us, then that’s out the window. We know we can’t control the weather, even though we might keep checking our phones to see if there’s a better forecast in the making. Traffic? Not a chance. Yet some people seem to drive as if they can. (Crawl up that slowpoke’s butt…yeah, that’ll help!) Our work? Depending on what we do, we may have some control there, but how many of our days actually end up going the way we originally thought they would, i.e., getting done the stuff we had planned? Yet we keep on making those plans for the next day!
How about ourselves?
While it seems as if we can control ourselves, when we look closely, is it true? Most of us can barely stop ourselves from eating a cookie let alone exercise as much as we should. And we certainly can’t control our minds and the thoughts that come into our heads. Try to NOT think of a purple bear and let me know how it goes.
As to controlling others–fuggetaboutit!
Most of us do have a list of friends and family that we try to control one way or another, and we may even think it works. But that’s just an illusion. Just like we can’t control the weather or traffic or our thoughts, we can’t make others bend to our will, regardless of how much it’s “for their own good.”
So what should we do about it?
We could keep on trying to control things and hope that one day we become the true master of our universe. But given all of the above, it’s probably not in the cards.
Perhaps it’s time to try something radical…
What if we simply surrendered?
Whhhaaaat? If you’re like me, you probably hate that word surrender. It may conjure up images of waving the white flag and eventually walking the plank! But given that the control we think we have is mostly illusionary, what’s the point in holding onto it?
When we think we’re in control and things don’t work out as planned, what happens? In most cases, we feel like crap. We get angry or depressed, or start blaming ourselves for not trying hard enough. Or worse, we blame those who wouldn’t do our bidding, and chalk it up to them purposefully being jerks.
All because something out of hands didn’t go the way we thought it should.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t like feeling like crap. And these days, I do everything in my power to avoid it. Feeling good is the most underrated and unappreciated way of being we have. But did you know it’s actually our default state of mind? For many, it’s hard to remember this because it’s such a rare occurrence. There’s so much stuff happening that the only times we feel good are when we’re doing something special, or when we’re lost in our addictive habit of choice. Unfortunately, we can’t spend our entire lives doing special stuff, and the addictive things have their own negative consequences.
So here’s the secret.
If unsuccessfully trying to control things makes us feel like crap, our only choice then is to either try to control them better (won’t work) or to surrender to what is. We sort of know this when it comes to really big things that feel outside of our control, e.g., the government, our work situation, etc., but most of us haven’t figured out it’s the same with everything.
But it is.
Just as we have very little control over what happens in politics, we have very little control with people and situations that seem to be more within our sphere of influence. Therefore, if we simply stopped trying to manage them all like some sort of crazed cruise director, we’d feel better. It’s our not getting our own way that makes us feel crappy. Therefore, if we just let things happen and didn’t try to bend them to our will, we’d have very little to feel bad about.
Before you get up in arms emailing and commenting that this sounds too passive and means we should never do anything about anything–that’s not what I’m saying. Nor am I saying we should let people walk all over us or bury our heads in the sand. Dealing with whatever arises is a good and positive thing. But that’s not the same as trying to control an outcome where we don’t actually have any control in the first place.
The beauty of surrendering is that we can start to see people and situations more for what they are rather than what we want them to be. And when we stop trying to control them and just enjoy them as they are, we are often able to see the good parts that we previously missed.
The illusion of control is one of the greatest mind tricks out there. How much longer are you going to allow yourself to be fooled by it? Is there one thing or person in your life right now where surrendering to what is, might make you feel better? I bet if you are honest with yourself you’ll find one…or two…or three..or…
Let me know how it goes!
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