It is common to see relationships as battlegrounds. As a place where couples act out their needs and desires. Relationships are where people often seek to control the other person. Relationships fail more often than they succeed. This is often because people try to manipulate them into what they want.
Spiritually, no action is more important than surrender. Surrender is the tenderest impulse of the heart, acting out of love to give whatever the beloved wants. Surrender is being alert to exactly what is happening now, not imposing expectations from the past. Surrender is faith that the power of love can accomplish anything, even when you cannot foresee the outcome of a situation. —Deepak Chopra
I was in a previous marriage for thirty years. During it, I never took the time to look at my relationship. I never considered what it meant to me. I think that if I had, I might have left it earlier. I was trying to be in control, as was my wife, and we fought it out for years with no-one winning out in the end.
There can come a moment when it is time to let go, time to surrender. This is not considered to be a masculine thing to do. Society considers letting go of control to be more of a feminine quality. Indeed, it is one of the qualities that can most define femininity. When a woman surrenders to herself and her impulses she finds she can start to trust others in her life. Trust is what she looks for in a man.
Many consider that for a man to surrender is a loss of face, the ultimate insult. Albert Einstein said,
If men as individuals surrender to the call of their elementary instincts, avoiding pain and seeking satisfaction only for their own selves, the result for them all taken together must be a state of insecurity, of fear, and of promiscuous misery.
John McCain said at the end of a speech in 2004,
Keep that faith. Keep your courage. Stick together. Stay strong. Do not yield. Do not flinch. Stand up. Stand up with our President and fight. We’re Americans. We’re Americans, and we’ll never surrender. They will.
However, surrender as a spiritual practice shows an undeniable depth of knowledge of yourself. It shows a care and compassion for the other person that is deep and meaningful. To be able to give up control shows a love for the other that sets you apart.
As Deepak says at the beginning of the quotation,
…no action is more important than surrender.
The ability to stand firm in the face of your enemies is often seen as a masculine quality. The ability to surrender in the face of love, however, is a simple human quality. How different life might be if we could all see our human qualities?
On one level, it is easy to see the advantages of surrender. How, though, can you go about this without seeming to be weak or uncertain. It is not that you must remain strong and certain as such. What is important is that you should not lose confidence in yourself in the process.
I see three simple actions that you can take. These will help you achieve surrender with strength and compassion. Undertaking these actions can transform your relationship. They can even transform your life.
Know who you are and stand firm in that knowledge.
This is the key to the whole concept of surrender. Knowing who you are, allows you to keep a sense of strength and certainty. The other person cannot control you or what you feel. A common reaction to a call to surrender is that you, of necessity, have to give something up. Usually, people see this as giving up who they are, or something of themselves. Somehow they are letting the other person take over. This results in the escalation of conflict to make sure that someone wins.
This is a zero-sum game, where one side ‘winning’ means the other side ‘loses’. Changing this idea to a positive-sum game, where one side ‘winning’ enables the other side to ’win’ alongside, is critical. This comes from knowing that, no matter what, you will never lose your integrity.
Know who the other person is and allow them to stand firm.
The whole situation changes once you apply the same thinking to the other person in any conflict. Allowing the other person to stand firm is an essential balance to your strength. This gives the other person the same way out that you have given yourself, the ability to keep their integrity.
This requires brutal honesty with each other. It requires you to hear things you may not want to hear and accept what may be uncomfortable for you.
Develop a process of trust in what happens.
It helps if you accept the idea that whatever is happening is in your best interests. It is important to see this process as a learning process. A learning process about yourself, not the other person. We all project what concerns us most onto other people and this is no more so than in relationships. Once we see the faults perceived in the other person as projections of our own faults, then the way forward becomes clear.
To do this requires trust in yourself, in the other person and in what is happening. You may not immediately see what the benefit will be, but it is important to trust that there will be one.
As Deepak said,
Surrender is being alert to exactly what is happening now, not imposing expectations from the past.
Be alert and trust and allow the relationship to take its course. It may be time for it to end, it may be time for it to grow, but standing still is never an option.
A bad relationship is like standing on broken glass, if you stay you will keep hurting… If you walk away, you will hurt but eventually you will heal. —Autumn Kohler
—Photo Credit: Flickr/Linda Tanner