Surrendering isn’t all white flags and submissive behavior. Did you know surrendering can be empowering? Surrendering is not just about giving up, admitting defeat, and capitulating. Think about it, have you ever been in a perpetual state of fight or flight? How did it feel?
Knowing when and how to surrender is crucial to self-awareness and living with optimum happiness and well-being. Our ego often prevents us from giving in to something or someone. Our ego doesn’t always want the best for us and certainly doesn’t know us. Learning to operate outside our ego teaches us how to surrender.
This article will outline what it means to surrender and its associated benefits. It will also suggest five ways how you can surrender.
What does it mean to surrender?
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, surrender means “to yield to the power, control, or possession of another upon compulsion or demand.”
In other words, to surrender is to capitulate.
We can expand upon this by saying surrendering is normal to someone in power or an opponent or enemy. It involves an end to resistance. We lay down our literal or metaphorical weapons, put our hands in the air, and stop fighting.
We often think of surrender in a battle or war context. But it can also apply to our personal lives.
For instance, we may feel at constant loggerheads with our boss. Or you may be in a battle with yourself. Many teenagers experience turbulence with their parents, and most of us have fought against a system at one point or another.
Many people confuse acceptance and surrender. The School of Martial Arts distinguishes between the two with compelling imagery. It says that when we are in a place of acceptance, we drift on top of the ocean, still battling rough waves and the elements. But when we lean into surrender, we dive below the surface and find a place of serenity and calm.
The School of Martial Arts describes surrender as “transcending the ego,” and I think that’s a beautiful description. For instance, our resistance, defensiveness, and argumentative behavior are often ego-driven. When we go beyond our ego, these characteristics start to fall away.
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What are the benefits of surrendering?
Surrendering helps us “transcend the ego” and reduces our propensity to be defensive and argumentative.
Let’s explore the benefits of reducing these two toxic traits.
We may behave defensively when we feel personally attacked. It can cause us to experience various emotions, from shame to sadness. Defensive behavior helps us protect ourselves. But when we surrender to our vulnerability, we become more open to others and improve our listening skills. This openness enhances our connection with others and improves our learning.
If you are interested in this topic, you can check out our article on how not to be defensive.
In terms of being argumentative, we can all be argumentative at times. Sometimes, arguing is necessary to stand up for ourselves, and let’s be honest, it’s a normal part of life. But it would help if you questioned your motives when you argue for argument’s sake.
When you argue, your body experiences these changes:
- Increase in heart rate.
- Increase in blood pressure.
- Release of stress hormones.
- Muscle tension.
This study outlines that frequently arguing with people around you will increase your risk of premature mortality.
As a result, learning to surrender can results in incredible benefits:
- Improve your relationships.
- Decrease your stress levels.
- Enhance your quality of life.
- Increase your longevity.
5 ways to surrender and give up control
It’s not all about waving a white flag and succumbing to whatever other people, organizations, or have in store. If you feel ready to surrender, you must prepare your mind and body to ensure it doesn’t resist surrender.
Here are 5 top tips to help you surrender.
1. Meditation and mindfulness
When you practice meditation and mindfulness, you activate the parasympathetic nervous system, down-regulating you and aiding relaxation.
When relaxed, we have less desire to fight or resist factors beyond our control. Resistance can build our frustration and increase our stress levels.
In this state, we can recognize what is worth persevering with and what you should surrender to. Only some things are worthy of our fight.
Some practical mindfulness exercises include:
- Coloring in.
- Writing in a journal.
- Nature walks.
A relaxed mind and body is the optimum position to overrule your ego and decide if surrendering may be more beneficial than enduring your ongoing battle.
2. Work with a therapist
If you feel agitated, frustrated, and angry, but can’t pinpoint the cause of these emotions, maybe it’s time to engage with a therapist. A therapist will help you to identify the origins of these toxic emotions and eradicate them once and for all.
I didn’t realize how much I was battling myself until I started working with a therapist. Over the years, I had become my own worst enemy and held myself to an account I wouldn’t expect from anyone else.
A therapist will help give you perspective and the tools to identify habits and behaviors that aren’t serving you. If you need more convincing, here are more reasons why a therapist can help you find happiness.
3. Embrace patience and understanding
Many believe they are better than and more important than others. More drivers expect traffic to let them out at a junction, yet few drivers show patience and respect to other drivers by letting them cut in front.
When we stop seeing other people as competition and start recognizing them as human beings, no better or worse than ourselves, we trigger a change in behavior. We become more patient and understanding of others.
We are all going through different things. For all we know, the boss we are acting defiantly with is having a tough time at home. What good does it do us to constantly engage in conflict and find fault in everything we do?
When we are patient and try to understand others, we are in a better place to surrender.
4. Choose your battles wisely
Here’s the thing, if you are someone known to be argumentative, your words will start to lose their effect. But if you pick your battles wisely, you are more likely to be listened to when you need to argue or defend your position.
Knowing when to surrender and when to persevere is a skill. And just because you surrender in one area of your life does not mean you have to roll over and surrender in all areas.
None of us want to feel like we are constantly swimming against the tide or wading through quicksand. When we choose our battles wisely, we aren’t in a constant state of elevated stress.
5. Relinquish control
It’s hard to relinquish control. I don’t think I’m a “control freak,” but I struggle to delegate. After co-founding and directing a voluntary organization for over 5 years, I recognized the need to step back. I needed to surrender for the good of the organization and my health. My surrendering wasn’t easy. I endured many battles with my ego, which somehow wrapped its self-worth up in my role within the organization.
It takes courage to relinquish control, but when we can, we are rewarded with peace and the space and time to direct our energies into something else. We gift ourselves a clean slate and leave our past achievements in the capable hands of others.
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Surrendering does not mean succumbing to a life of obscurity. Knowing when and how to surrender can help us remove unnecessary stressors and increase our happiness and well-being.
Remember our 5 tips on how to surrender:
- Meditation and mindfulness.
- Work with a therapist.
- Embrace patience and understanding.
- Choose your battles wisely.
- Relinquish control.
Have you recently surrendered to a situation? What did you do to help with this? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!