22: What Does It Mean to Surrender?


If you’re constantly fighting through life, making things happen and feeling a bit crazy in the process, this one is for you. It’s also for myself, to remind me of what I’ve learned and that surrendering is a process. Surrendering is the art of allowing and dancing with what is so that we can come to a place of possibilities and hope. Today, I’ll pull back the curtain on what it took for me to realize that I must surrender and how you can find more grace in your life in the process.


On my journey to be a lightworker, which is someone who wants to impact the world for the better, one of my main questions was, “how do I surrender?”  What does it even mean? I had fought for so long to control outcomes in my life, to shape my life and to make things happen that the term “surrender” seemed so pitiful. Why would I want to give up?


Yet, there it was – in so many of the spiritual texts and teachings. Surrender. There was also a part of me that knew what this was, and had to remember. It was why I fought against it, yet also longed for it. The missing link in my achieving lifestyle that bridged the gap from my reality-based and goal-oriented ways of being, and my intuitive and spiritual pursuits. I knew there was something more there I needed to explore.


The summer of 2019, I was about to head into the city for a Gabby Bernstein event. Gabby was one of my spiritual teachers that I’ve been working with for several years. I pulled a card that morning from her Super Attractor deck and it read, “Surrender to a Power Greater Than You”. I was still in the process of launching my coaching business more publicly to the world, of figuring out what it meant to have big dreams of spiritual/business achievement and the realities of being a mom of 2, a wife, and a corporate warrior. I arrived early to the event and as I was in line waiting for the doors to open, they were handing out cards from her deck to each person waiting in line. I said “thank you”, flipped my card over and saw the same card. “Surrender to a Power Greater Than You”. Ok. Same message. I did the math for you. It’s a 0.04% chance to get the same card from a deck of 52, twice.


The event starts and Gabby comes on stage. As this is both a live and virtual event, she talks about tech issues they’ve been having at the start and how prior to her coming out on stage, her husband tried to help her feel better by handing her a card from her deck during the tech crisis. She shared it with the crowd and the card was, “Surrender to a Power Greater Than You”. She used it as a reminder let the tech anxiety go and obviously, the tech issues got resolved. Meanwhile, I’m like, WTF? This card again! Guys, we are now at a 0.0007% chance. 


Then, as I was waiting to go to the bathroom during a break, a woman who I was considering to become a coach of mine shared with me that she also got the same card at the event, “Surrender to a Power Greater Than You”. We are now at 0.000013% chance. The kicker? I wasn’t sure what it all meant. What was surrender? I mean, I literally understood the term. Give it up. But what did that mean in my life? What was the message I was trying to receive and how do I actually do this?


What I’ll share next about surrender is for me, for you and for the times in our future where we will receive this message but don’t know what to do with it.


What does it mean to surrender?


Surrender means 2 things. The first one is giving up your expectations of how things will go.

The second one is giving up what you believe about yourself that isn’t true.


Give Up Expectations of How Things Will Go

Let’s start with step one. Giving up expectations of how things will go. Boy oh boy is this one a doozy. How do I give up control? How do I give up my expectations? What would it mean if I did? Giving up control didn’t feel safe nor smart. As an achiever, you’re used to picking up the slack so that you can ensure that the job gets done right. You’re used to doing more than your fair share because you expect the job to be done well. If this is your programming, how do you just let all of this go? I asked myself these questions each time I tried something new. Most of my life, I’ve done things that were safe. I knew what the probability was for certain outcomes. But at the same time, it was usually the things where I had the least amount of expectation that I succeeded the most. Why is that? When your expectations are low, you’re more likely to be more patient and open to new ideas.


To be clear, I don’t mean that we have low standards. There’s a difference between expectations and standards. Expectations means a certain amount of disappointment if things don’t go as planned. Standards mean that you are resolving to act and require a level of performance from yourself. Expectations usually take into consideration the outside world. Standards are an internal measure. I expect you to behave this way. I expect the car to be there when I arrive. Standards are what you accept. I won’t accept you behaving this way. I won’t accept that the car isn’t there. You can see that acceptance is an internal act. If I don’t accept you behaving this way, it doesn’t mean you don’t. It means that I will let you know it’s not ok. If I don’t accept that the car isn’t there, I will do the work to make sure that you know that I’m coming. These two words are so close, yet worlds apart when it comes to our ability to manage the results and decisions from them. 


Many times in life, we resist what is right there in front of us. We stress about not getting to our goals on time, in the way that we want, and we consider it a failure. Failure stops us from getting back up and trying again. But there’s no failure when there’s acceptance. When you accept what is in front of you, you’re able to make decisions from a place of calmness and objectivity. Surrender how you think it’s supposed to go and accept what is happening right now. Why did we think that we had ultimate control over exactly how things should be? Perhaps it was from your upbringing, a sense of desire for safety and certainty. A desire for stability.


Either way, I knew that I was used to living a safe life. When you live a safe life, this means by default that you want to know what will happen and when. Not knowing, giving up control, and moving with what is actually happening means that you’re no longer living a safe life. You’re expanding your world view by allowing yourself to entertain the possibilities beyond your field of vision. This is the magic of surrendering your expectations of how life is supposed to be and allowing what is to be. From this place you can start to co-create a life that is partly coming from your essence and partly coming from the Universe. This is where when you don’t block your internal guidance, you see that life can be even better than you could have imagined.


Give Up The Stories Of Who We Think We Are (that aren’t not serving us)

The second part of surrendering is giving up the stories of who we are. Especially those stories that we believe about ourselves that aren’t true and are no longer serving us. For our sense of safety, we would rather hold onto any identity than to feel like we’re casting ourselves out there finding out who we want to be. We make excuses for the same behaviors we always exhibit, which gets us the exact same life we had yesterday. No forward progress comes from doing the same exact thing that doesn’t serve you, does it? Yet why do we continue to say that we’re not smart enough, bold enough, courageous enough, open enough, disciplined enough to do that thing that we say we want to do?


We love our stories. We love to recount the ways in which we’ve been hurt, confused, affected and broken down by life. May, you say, but I’m an extra difficult person to work with because I don’t know what I want! I don’t have what it takes. I don’t have time. I don’t have the money. All it takes to change any one of these or anything at all is a single decision. A decision that you must change, that we must change, and that we can change. This decision comes when you look yourself in the mirror one day and realize that you don’t recognize who you are, what you’ve become and why life feels like it’s passing you by. 


When I got those cards, I was fighting with my identity. Was I a corporate warrior or a free-as-a-bird entrepreneur. Was I a coach or a trainer? Was I a mom or my own person? Each of these identities would create a lifepath that I was either on, or not on. The incongruence of feeling like I was supposed to be a specific kind of person to be chasing my dreams of having an impact on the world, that wasn’t who I was, was driving me crazy. I realized that the expectations I had of doing only one thing, of being only one person – were driven not by me but by what I thought I had to be based on those I saw around me. Once I let that go, I realized that when I surrendered my expectations, I could ride the waves of change, momentum and life much more easily. My desire stayed the same, but I could see how my 9-5 job and my coaching work fit so beautifully together. 


When I surrendered the stories of who I thought I had to be, I realized that I was a mom who loved her family and her husband. Who didn’t have to be in an ashram or in a temple all day in order to be spiritual. More importantly, I realized that this life with all these people was my path. Understanding how to contribute to the world while living in the world is my special sauce. I’m like you and you’re like me. If I can do this, so can you. This is more impactful than if I was some kind of guru who lived as an ascetic because my message isn’t for those people. It’s for you. It’s for me. It’s for the person who has practical responsibilities, desires a full life, and is also open to something a touch more magical than they’ve ever experienced.


Ultimately, all of this taught me about congruency and how important it is to be congruent with who you are and what is, in order for you to achieve any sense of ease and flow. Life didn’t get easier, but it sure felt that way. I was able to see greater and greater momentum in my training and coaching work. In my relationships with my family and friends, and most importantly with myself. I began to do more work around intuitive guidance, energy healing, and infuse that into bothy my life and my work. 


I remembered the day when I realized, “this is what surrender looks like”. I was running through some hills on a trail and saw that I kept missing a path. Why? Because I was so focused on what was in front of me that I didn’t even know to look around me. It hit me all at once. Our life and the opportunities for everything we want are always around us, not just in one straight path ahead of us. 


We look at that one straight path and keep going down it, not even seeing that there was a shortcut right next to us. Or a path that gets us there that is more interesting or pleasant. Because we’re not aware. Surrendering is opening yourself up to a next level of awareness. A connection to a world beyond your own. One that may be the one missing link in all your endeavors.


Surrender to a power greater than you opens yourself up to something even greater than you. How can you say no to a life where you could be infinitely more blessed with unexpected, yet powerfully greater realities than what you could have conjured up? Let go, and you’ll let the magic in.


If you want help designing your day so that you can be really present and open to all that life has in store for you, you’re in luck! I’m hosting a Free Design Your Day workshop. RSVP now to get a spot and I’ll share with you the strategies and tools I use daily to shift my mindset, change careers and improve my health. Together, we’ll start the process of designing a magical life. Go to https://mayempson.com/designyourday to sign up.

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