We hear a lot about how we must take actions in order to achieve our goals in any motivational books or personal growth seminars. On the other hand, we also know about the importance of surrender. Sometimes, the way how things turn out is not up to our desire or control. If we are fixated to a certain outcome, we may suffer for that reason.
So where do we need to draw the line?
When should we pull back and surrender to the universe?
I was listening to a podcast last week and the hosts mentioned about the book The Surrender Experiment, and that sparked my intense interest.
There has been a theme emerging in my world since last week, the question of when do we say, it’s time to surrender versus we need to try harder?
I am very aware of the fact that surrender does not equal giving up, but it is about leaving to the universe, I have done my best, I let go. Then there is also the ideas of doing more or working smarter.
I understand sometimes the truth of the matter is, we need to put more time and energy in a pursuit or master a skill. Often times it means self-directed effort, determination, will and perhaps, faith in yourself. These are the times we need to say we should never give up. Spiritual forces may also inspire or encourage us to push through or endure a lengthy pursue.
So taking actions is also highly important. Again, when do we know it is time to let go then? Or if we are letting go for the reasons? What if we want to quit because we are overly worried that we are investing more time and effort but only to find out we are going to fail anyway?
Where do we draw the line between Self-Acceptance and Complacency?
I was also watching an interview between Brene Brown and Tim Farris about a similar topic. And they discussed this very question.
Where is the line? How do we know we are practicing self-acceptance, which is an important part for our personal growth, and at the same time, we are not just “lazy” and stay at where we are instead of moving forward and upward?
These questions have been lingering my mind for the entire week and I will try to answer it with what I know and understand, as well as from my personal experience. I’d love to hear what you may think about this as well.
Reading The Surrender Experiment brought tears to my eyes while I was reading the book within a couple of days. The way how the universe unfold its miraculous power and how the author followed the flow of life, and stepped away from his personal preference were simply astounding.
It is very clear to me that if he have allowed his emotions or ego or impulsive reaction to run the course of his life, he wouldn’t have found the meditation temple, a building and construction company, a multi-billion dollar business and had so many life-changing experiences.
The fact that he let-go and surrendered to life brought him joy, peace, friendships, wealth and incredible experiences more than he could ever imaged.
What I found really clear to me is that the intention to surrender to life is a guiding principle for his actions, but he is a hard working and busy man from what I’ve read.
It doesn’t mean he was doing nothing all day long. Even in his early years of attempting to live like a helmet and in solitude, it didn’t quite happened that way. There were plenty of actions and effort, but they simply do not come across as such. It was like when a fish is swimming downstream, it seems so natural and effortless to watch. The long hours he poured in to write his computer program didn’t seem like effort or work. It was just him doing what life moved him to do.
It’s not about forcing the effort, but to allow forceful effort emerge from our heart and soul
As I reflect on the “best” things that happened in my life, I realised they all shared a common theme. It came from no where that I could foresee, and it seems effortless to attain. However, before the opportunity arises, life has already prepared me much more than I knew.
There were 2 examples that came to mind.
First, it was about winning the scholarship to Norway to attend the United World College when I was 16 years old. One day, someone came to my high school and talked about the program. It sounded interesting. An inner voice told me I was going to apply for this. And so I simply complied. I wasn’t looking for a way to leave my family or home town. I wasn’t dissatisfy with my high school at all, I had a great group of friends and I was doing very well. I had no plan to pursue something “bigger” or “better” for my future.
I only told my parents after succeeding in 2 rounds of selection process and it daunted on me the fact that I may actually be leaving home for 2 years in about 3 months time.
Those 2 years in Norway changed my life so dramatically and so was the trajectory of my future. I would not be sitting here in my Sydney office writing this blog if I didn’t leave home to live overseas from that ample age.
So where was the effort part you may ask?
When I first came to my high school, I did an English assessment test and performed poorly. I honestly do not remember was it because I was not paying attention during the test or my entry level was lower than others. I was put into the remedial class. That raised my alarm bell as I had a very different expectation of myself. First time in my life I was being labelled in a somehow negative light.
To become a better version of ourself
As a result, I got serious, I put in the effort, not just in English but in all subjects. I also became more focused in all of my school activities, be it playing sports or any extracurricular activities. I also read many different kind of books outside of my school life. I wanted to excel in ALL areas in my life. That was exactly what the scholarship committees looking for. Should I have known that was to happen 5 years after that initial set back, of course not. That’s not how life intended to be.
I have steadily put in the effort to be a better version of myself, without a particular target, but just IS. Then, the opportunity came. And I was detached to the outcome, I was surrendered to the possibility. And it picked me.
Decades later, another example came to mind.
My Lesson of Complacency
After coming out from a highly dysfunctional relationship, I decided to have a closer look into my life. What did I do, or didn’t do? Where was my part of mistakes or irresponsibility? What is the lesson for me?
And right there, I found my part. I was complacent. I knew there were problems with the relationship but I didn’t want to go deeper. I didn’t want to invest more of myself. I had no clear idea of what makes me happy or what really matters to my heart. With that relationship dramatically ended, I was on my way to figure “me” out.
It took me a few years, a lot of learning and reflecting, mistakes and regrets, but eventaully I was a lot closer to know what I am and who I want to be.
Then enter the stage my now husband.
I would have declared to the world (I probably did when I first met him) that he is not my type. As if that really means something or I knew anything about my type.
If I would have known him earlier, nothing would come to fruition because I was simply not the same woman. I was not prepared for what was to come.
With the self-development work I have done on myself, I got deepened into my own being of who I am.
I accepted the fact that I am not perfect, I still have my triggers or personality default that I need to watch out for. But the difference is, I am not complacent with my relationships anymore.
I now see how important it is to put in the effort when it is need to nurture and build trust.
At the same time, I’ve learned to detach from the outcome, surrender to the possibility. No self-imposed expectation of whether it will work out or how the relationship is going to be.
Would it lead to marriage? Would he be a good partner/husband? Are we going to have children? Is he good for me? Am I good enough for him? Would he love me more or less than I love him. Blah Blah Blah. Those would have been my questions years earlier.
Life will show you the way
I remember I said to myself when those thoughts came up. “Well, we’ll see. Life will show us.“
There is no way we can foresee all the possible scenarios. I have seen how some people are paralysed by over calculating if the relationship is going to work because they don’t want to make a mistake, again.
But here is the thing. You simply cannot calculate life. You can only surrender to the possibilities, to the flow. Yet, you are taking your effort every step along the way.
And that is the art of living.
Inspired effort. Not calculated effort.
Cultivate Your Spiritual Practices in Life
So how do we surrender to the flow of life? How do we cultivate our spiritual practices?
I’ll say, be heart centred. Be quiet and listen in. When you feel the inspiration and inner knowing, act. Until then, you wait. Meditation is a great way to accomplish that state of mind. I notice the difference when I am able to meditation once or even twice a day. I prefer to meditate in the morning, before I begin any creative work or business activities. I like to clear my mind, connect to my heart before I begin “doing” anything. That is my favourite practice. The result?
No over-doing and no being lazy.
Be still but ready.
We have all the answers within us, but sometimes the question won’t come until we are ready. We are always complete and whole, when we are not thinking we are missing something. But there is always more to learn, enrich and to experience, it is just that we don’t need to chase after that, it will come to us. That is the difference.
If we are unable to connect to our heart, it seems like we are constantly seeking but never find what we are looking for. When we are centred and connected to our heart and soul, we feel open to receive new ideas or answers and without forcing with effort, they will come.
I hope today’s blog/podcast will give you some inspiration or insights into your life.
Share with me what comes up for you or what is your take on all these questions. I will love to hear from you. You can comment on the blog or on my FB post.
If you would like to have a deeper conversation with me about whatever you are facing in life, schedule a 30 mins Exploration Coaching Session with me. I’d love to show you how coaching is a powerful way for us to get clear and centred, and most importantly, becoming the best version of who we are.
#complacent #never give up #self acceptance #surrender #action