Exploring the Path of Acceptance and Surrender
In AA, it’s common to hear the phrase “acceptance is the answer to all our problems today.” This is something I’ve thought about through my entire sobriety, but it wasn’t until I started actively practicing surrender in a profound way that I really understood what it means to let go. Letting go and releasing all the underlying tension and negative emotions of a situation is like “dropping a weight” (Hawkins 8). I have been practicing surrender for a long time now. Like psychiatrist and spiritual teacher, David R. Hawkins M.D. Ph.D discusses, now I am able to let things go before I start ruminating about them in my mind.
Gaining Awareness: The First Step in Letting Go
It took me a while to really understand this process, and it’s not something that just happens overnight. I’ve had to really reel myself in. For example, in the past, while disagreeing with someone over text or waiting for someone to respond, I’ll find myself checking my phone obsessively. Through my practice of letting go, I have gained a more profound sense of awareness that allows me to at least notice that I’m acting obsessively and checking my texts over and over. Awareness is the first step in surrender while also accepting that it takes more work to release the resistance in some situations.
My two main intentions in life are love and forgiveness. The practice of letting go helps me to prioritize these intentions. It reminds me constantly to love unconditionally and forgive always.
The "Okay" Response: A Simple Tool for Diffusing Tension
My therapist taught me a simple yet brilliant tool a few years ago: When someone says something that rattles you, simply respond with, “Okay.” It is remarkable how many arguments I have stopped or how many attacks and snide remarks I have responded to by just saying, “Okay.”
I use this word in many difficult interactions these days. And just like the process of surrendering, it took me a while to have it become instinctual. When in a disagreement with someone, I often respond, “Okay, I hear you.” Or simply, “Ok.” With this response, I am not resisting; I am accepting. And simply by not resisting, one can disarm the other person by just feeling heard and that their point of view matters. In most cases, there are always two sides to a story, and there are always other ways to be “right” about that one same thing. Furthermore, it allows space for the other person to process their feelings, and the cycle of emotion is allowed to ebb and flow without resistance.
The Ripple Effect: How Acceptance Influences Those Around Us
When we get thrown, it’s often because there is resistance coming from within ourselves or from the people around us. If someone close says something that triggers us like, “That was not nice!” We most likely fire back with something to defend ourselves, which perpetuates the argument. It’s a never-ending cycle. This is why the “okay” response is a lifesaver. That magic little word has helped me let go of so much negative energy and enabled me to be more aware of my resistance.
The Physicality of Resistance: Tuning Into Your Body
These days, I can actually feel it in my body when I’m resisting. I feel myself begin to ruminate. Just having this awareness and the simple tool of “okay” has changed so much. There are fewer arguments and less stress. Without this awareness, I would have been too stuck to even realize I was resisting. Now, I have the ability to let go.
The Wisdom of Non-Resistance: Lessons from Loved Ones
If we resist every time we don’t get our way or think we are right, we would most likely be surrounded by people who act in the same way. However, I’ve discovered that the more fluid I am, the more I stay in non-resistance with ease, the more it rubs off on the people around me, especially my closest family members.
My sponsor gave me a great piece of advice once: “In life, you can have anything you want, but not everything.” It took me quite some time to understand what she meant. But after some time, I realized that resistance is the negation of this statement. We can have anything we want, but we get there by acceptance of what is. We cannot have everything we want, and we surrender to knowing that we can’t.
Life stays hard when we are are on ourselves
Even more importantly, it’s essential to become aware of resistance towards ourselves. If we do something we aren’t happy with, like cooking a meal that didn’t turn out the way we wanted. We don’t get angry with ourselves for it; instead, we accept that everyone messes up a meal. I notice that about people all the time: they get upset about something, and then they also get upset with themselves. I call that double doing it. In other words, you double the amount of resistance and upset within yourself.
Life stays hard if we are always hard on ourselves and meet our mistakes with resistance. On the other hand, self-acceptance and non-resistance are important for long-lasting contentment and joy.
The practice of surrender doesn’t always come easily because it’s tempting to get caught up in the dramas of it all in our fast-paced world. By working on acceptance day-by-day, we can start to see that going with the flow and recognizing that we don’t always have control allows us to live in a greater state of ease, forgiveness, and love. Starting with a simple word like “okay” can be magical and can begin your journey of surrender.
You and your loved ones will begin to feel the shift, one moment of acceptance at a time.