The Pitfalls Of Constant Striving
“The harder you try to hold onto something, the more it wants to get away. You have to let go.” — Mitch Albom
Do you ever experience the constant push, the feeling that you’re exerting so much effort but not quite getting ahead? For instance, are you striving to pay your bills? Wanting to be in a committed relationship? Improve your career prospects? I want to be clear here because taking inspired action to get what we desire differs from striving to make things happen. Consider this: the prevailing mindset of trying and pushing is pervasive today. It seems that post-Covid, the world has changed, and we are now dealing with global economic challenges, climate uncertainty, and an ongoing war that is felt globally. Let me introduce the concept of surrender and its positive impact on our lives.
Embracing Surrender: A Paradigm Shift
“Surrender is the simple but profound wisdom of yielding to rather than opposing the flow of life.” — Eckhart Tolle
It’s no secret that society emphasizes achievement and constant productivity. Numerous books and YouTube videos provide guidance on optimizing productivity through efficient use of every minute. However, the toll of striving is impacting our mental and physical health, and it may be too late to reverse the effects. Think about this in the context of your life. Are you constantly striving and not seeing the results you deserve? For instance, you may have applied for multiple job openings but did not receive the desired outcome. Some say this is part of modern-day living. Still, I don’t buy into that explanation because some people live exceptional lives and manage their time wisely. What insights can we learn from them to make our lives more effortless and fulfilling?
Practical Steps To Cultivate Surrender
“You must learn to let go. Release the stress. You were never in control anyway.” — Steve Maraboli
Many of these successful people have learned to surrender to the flow of life instead of pushing to make things happen. They have learned to surrender resistance and work with the forces of life. It doesn’t mean giving up or being apathetic. On the contrary, it’s liberating because it allows us to co-create our lives with what is happening. We learn to drop the resistance to things happening in a certain way and be more present in our current experience. The notion of surrender is common in Eastern philosophies and within spirituality. It is worth reiterating that surrender does not imply passivity or resignation. Our actions effortlessly arise from inspiration and cooperation with life’s forces rather than resistance. Finding a balance between our desire for control and accepting things beyond our control is vital to achieving success and happiness. We might believe nothing will get done if we are not in control, so we try harder to influence life’s circumstances. Ultimately, this need to control leads to anxiety and stress, especially when the outcome doesn’t match our expectations. Can you relate to this? So, how can we relinquish unnecessary control and allow life to bring us what we need? What practices, habits, or ways of thinking are required to make life effortless without the constant struggle?
First, it involves cultivating trust in the unfolding of life’s events. It may sound more accessible than in practice, so it consists of a shift in consciousness. But take it from someone who tried to control their life for many years, leading to dissatisfaction and a growing sense of stress and unhappiness. Ultimately, I decided to relinquish control and trust that the universe will provide me with what I require, recognizing that attempting to micromanage my life was not yielding the desired results. Then, my life began to unfold most beautifully and exuberantly. I’m not saying my old habits were transformed overnight. It took several years to practice the art of surrender. However, in doing so, we embrace uncertainty and impermanence, which frightens many people because we want to maintain control. For instance, we have limited control over our genetics and inherited traits, how people treat us, time, mortality, economic circumstances, biological needs, and unforeseen circumstances, to name a few.
Nevertheless, we can use mindfulness to surrender to life’s flow and stay grounded. Being present allows us to adapt to life’s challenges and turn them into opportunities. I realize this goes against everything you’ve come to know about life. For this reason, please don’t take my word for it, but put it into practice to see whether it works for you. The ultimate test is to practice the principles outlined here and see if you can make it a way of life. Of the hundreds of people I’ve coached over the last 15 years, many have benefited from this way of living because it gave them a new sense of possibility to live differently. Mindfulness allows us to witness our thoughts with detachment and notice what we are creating within each moment. For example, suppose we are trying to force a situation to unfold in a particular way. In that case, we can change our response by observing our thoughts and emotions to act from a place of surrender instead of force. It is an idea popularized by the American psychiatrist and consciousness researcher Dr. David Hawkins, who wrote in his acclaimed book Power Vs. Force: The Hidden Determinates of Human Behavior: “Man thinks he lives by the forces he can control, but in fact, he is governed by power from unrevealed sources, power over which he has no control. Because power is effortless, it goes unseen and unsuspected. Force is experienced through the senses; power can be recognized only through inner awareness.”
Similarly, the power of gratitude helps us foster surrender because it allows us to accept the positive and challenging aspects of life. Therefore, by letting go and trusting in a greater intelligence to bring us what we need, we co-create the circumstances of our lives effortlessly. Surrender helps us to handle adversity, especially in difficult situations outside our comfort zone. Surrender fosters self-awareness and growth because we learn more about ourselves when we remain detached from having situations unfold in a certain way. Ultimately, it requires integrating our sense of ambition with surrender if we wish to lead a fulfilling life. The main point of this article is learning to find balance within the context of your life. In other words, can you find that sweet spot between striving and letting go? You will have to try it to see if it works for you.
As a closing thought on the transformative power of surrender, I encourage you to write in your journal or speak to a friend or loved one about how you can integrate the art of surrender into your daily life. Pick an area of life that isn’t functioning optimally and try to surrender as little as 10% until you feel comfortable with more. For example, if your finances are suffering and you struggle to pay your bills. What is one daily practice you could undertake to help you surrender this aspect of your life? It might involve observing your thoughts and changing your inner dialogue. It might include reciting affirmations or journalling your fears. Whatever you choose, see if you can come from a place of nonresistance and allow things to be as they are. When we get comfortable with how things are, we communicate to life and the universe; we are not bothered by it. As a result, we allow better things to unfold because we come from a place of nonresistance instead of force, control, and fear.