Sixth in the series
Notes on Recovery
Surrender means being able to stop controlling stuff and still believe things will be okay.
It means the ability, when facing some reality we can’t dictate, to accept it with grace and patience.
Some people dislike the word surrender. To them it connotes defeat, failure or weakness.
Fine. Call it something else.
Call it detachment, as they do in Al-Anon. Or acceptance. Or trust. Or faith.
Call it what you like. But notice how essential it is to not losing your marbles.
Surrender is the spiritual alternative to control. Here spiritual refers to the part of us that acknowledges something bigger than we are — bigger than mind, willpower or ego.
I believe we can’t survive without that part.
Nor can we function without surrender.
Think about it. Imagine someone unable or unwilling to ever surrender control. How could they drive on a freeway? Fly in an airplane? Eat in a restaurant? Let their kid ride a schoolbus? Let a surgeon remove their tonsils? Trust a therapist with their secrets? Stay sane during a hurricane?
We surrender control hundreds of times daily. We have to. Without surrender life would be a paranoid nightmare, and peace of mind would be impossible.
So practicing surrender in recovery doesn’t necessarily mean learning something new.
What it usually means is putting surrender to new use – extending it to new parts of our emotional life, or applying it in new situations.
Thus I may practice surrender by expressing my feelings more freely, even when it scares me, because I trust that expression is ultimately healthier and safer than suppression.
I may practice by not controlling the people around me, despite the urge to, because I believe that less controlling tends to make relationships stronger.
I may practice by using the sort of mantra 12-Step programs teach – One day at a time, Let go and let God, Go with the flow, Turn it over – as a way of calming myself while developing a more flexible response to frustration and worry. (My own favorite, scribbled on an sticky note taped to my monitor: 95% of what we worry about never happens.)
Or I may practice by choosing consciously, when trapped behind a slow driver, to breathe deep and practice surrender instead of wishing I had a loaded weapon.
Next: Practicing responsibility