As I directed my thoughts toward setting my intention this morning, I heard the word surrender. Surrender, for me, equates to letting go and allowing whatever is meant to be. It means being receptive to that which I might miss, or even consciously pass up if I am too focused on controlling every aspect of whatever is unfolding in my life. Often, before I get to surrender, I travel through phases of my journey that I refer to as the peaks and valleys.
Over the last year, as I have endeavored to find my public writing voice, I have spent enough time in the peaks and the valleys to realize that both were relevant to the process. At times, I found myself in the valley of fear and avoidance, especially avoidance of vulnerability, and those were the toughest times to maneuver. Still, it is in those valleys that I discovered my desire to write was stronger than the fear.
I learned that I love the peaks when I feel as though I am doing exactly what I am meant to do. When I surrender to my passion and abandon the fight or flight urges, I am happy. I am elated. It is in those moments when I am present and connected to that elation, that I think I could not possibly lose touch with my sense of purpose. It simply bubbles up from within me.
And then, most times without provocation, I find myself in a valley where I question everything that I’m doing. It is in those valleys that I wallow in self-sabotage and attempt to derail my efforts to stay connected with my purpose. It is in those valleys that I beat myself up relentlessly, for whatever period of time I arbitrarily allocate, as my ego overrides my ability and my desire to surrender to living with passion and purpose.
Over the course of my life, coming up and out of those valleys has taught me that I choose whether to stay put or propel myself back up the hill to find the peak again. When I find myself in a valley I almost immediately ask myself how I got there. And, all too often, I can identify the trigger as a self-defeating thought pattern that I have yet to set aside in favor of what better serves me now.
Much has been written about how our thoughts control outcomes in our lives. And, while I wholeheartedly believe this to be true, I am just as prone to derailing, self-sabotaging thoughts as everyone else. The good news in all of this is that I have come to realize, after years of experience, that my thoughts take me into the valleys but my thoughts also take me up and out of the valleys.
Perhaps I land in the valleys less frequently and stay for shorter intervals these days, but every time I do land in a valley I am reminded that I still have work to do. Writing about surrender reminds me that I am a work in process. As I write today, I hope my words will give encouragement to those who are spending more time in the valleys than on the peaks as well as those who might wonder if the peaks even exist at the top of some very slippery slopes.
This is where I acknowledge the value of surrender. Most of the time when I consciously decide that I am finished with the funk and how it makes me feel, I willingly take the first step toward moving beyond it without knowing where I will land. Experience has taught me that I will always land somewhere better than the funk, but earlier in my process I wasn’t so sure. I would fight the process and hang in the funk slump longer than was desirable because I thought I might not like where I would land.
Now I know, and in most instances I act upon that knowing, that there is only one direction out of the valley. I can only go up. The time it takes to get to the peak might vary depending on how deeply I have dug into a valley. But always, always when I take the first step I find myself in a better place. That first step is what I have come to know as surrender.
Note: After many failed attempts at meditation, I decided to take the advice of music mogul, Russell Simmons, who wrote Success Through Stillness. He suggests setting a timer for twenty minutes and sitting still regardless of distracting thoughts. I wrote after each session to create this thirty-day blog series.