• Chelli Pumphrey, MA, LPC

The Art Of Surrender


Did you ever play that game as a kid where someone would inflict some kind of painful move on you until you cried “uncle”?  My brother and I turned this game into an endless source of torture for each other.  No one ever wanted to be in the position of having to cry uncle, because we didn’t want to acknowledge defeat.  Sometimes you had to give in to the struggle, either to relieve pain or to simply put an end to the fight.  Either way, you had to give in.  Sometimes life can present a good game of crying uncle, aka, SURRENDER.


What does surrender mean?

Surrender is the willingness to accept things exactly how they are while holding steadfast faith that everything IS and WILL BE OK. It means giving in and letting go. It means learning to stop rowing your boat upstream against the flow of life, letting go of the oars, and allowing the current to take you downstream. No resistance, just flow.  

Surrender means flexibility.  It means giving in to the unexpected ups and downs of life.  It means accepting that you sometimes have to take a detour to get to your final destination.  It means that even the most perfectly laid out plans can sometimes be disrupted by disaster.   It means realizing when to fight and knowing when to give in.


To get through the ups and downs of life, you must learn the Art of Surrender:


Recognize Opportunities To Surrender   

Is there something you’re resisting, or fighting against, something you don’t want to accept in your life?  Life’s strong-arming can come in many forms.  It could be an unhealthy relationship, an illness, a miserable job, or situation that you know is causing you pain, but despite the pain, you resist surrender.  You don’t want to let go, because letting go of that person, that job, or that situation feels like defeat, unhappiness, loss, or whatever negative belief you've created in your mind.  That’s where step number two comes in: 


Redefine Surrender 

Does surrender have to mean that you’re weak or a failure?  Or could it mean that you are self-preserving, strong, and brave?  Can you be the brave kid who walks away from a cowardly bully?  Stop equating surrender with weakness.  See the strength in letting go of something that causes you pain or misery.


Check Your Perceptions

Albert Einstein believed that the most important decision we need to make is whether we believe we live in a friendly universe or a hostile one. What would happen if you believed that the Universe, God, or simply strong, brave YOU always had your back? Can you find moments in your past that build your faith in a benevolent Universe that always supports you?

Embrace Change 

There is so little in life that we actually have control over.  When we fall prey to the illusion that we have control over everything, it creates a power struggle with the flow of life.  Creating an expectation that “change happens”, instead of proudly declaring “I don’t like change” can be a powerful coping strategy.  Surrender and give in to the reality that change will always be a constant in your life. It is how you flow with the changes that matters most.


Learning when and how to surrender can liberate you from suffering. It is the art of letting go, trusting the process of life, and most of all, trusting that you have the ability to decide what defines your happiness, pain, and worth.  So the next time you feel like you’re fighting the urge to surrender, open your heart, take a deep breath, drop the oars and free yourself.

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