About 2 weeks ago now I was listening to Brene Brown’s Dare to Lead Podcast (of course I was). She was talking to Sarah Lewis (a writer and academic) about her book “The Rise: Creativity, the Gift of Failure and the Search for Mastery. I have not read it, but with that title it is certainly on my list. What grabbed my attention was their conversation about the chapter on surrendering. Surrendering!? It is one of those words like vulnerable that makes me stop and think. Hearing Sarah talk about surrendering had the exact same impact hearing Brene talk about vulnerability had on me. My mindset took me to surrendering is weakness, surrendering tells the world that you are not strong enough to do something. Just like vulnerability it made me stop and listen to what her take was on this, I was drawn to the discomfort I was feeling and the apparent contradiction that surrendering could be a good thing. Surrendering like being vulnerable is a strength, it’s an attribute, not a flaw or a weakness. Surrendering can make you vulnerable, for a moment, but allows you to concentrate on what is important and what you can control. Let me explain by telling you the story of my week.
Last week, was much like most weeks at the moment, I spend part of my time working from home and part of my time in the office. I juggle my time between, running the coaching and mentoring network, providing staff support (listening to people’s stories about what is challenging them, and giving them space), delivering leadership training, and planning for the future. So like all of us pretty full on. I am not doing any of this in a way that I would like, it is either via video meeting platforms, telephone, emails or socially distanced conversations wearing masks. My work seems to be full of problems and difficulties, many of the conversations I have with people are serious and purposeful, and are often interrupted with technical issues. On top of that I have not seen friends or family for months, like most of us. I miss human contact, I love shaking hands, giving people a hug, and generally being close to people. I am pretty certain most if not all of you will recognise my frustration, and sadness. These are all common themes, and no doubt there are many more problems you are encountering. They all add to reducing our bandwidth and colouring the view we have of our world. By Wednesday and Thursday I was feeling really quite low. Negative thoughts were flooding my brain, and making it almost impossible to see anything in a positive light. For those of you that know me you will remember Foggy (my name for my depression), well he was back and causing chaos. On Thursday morning I remembered listening to Sarah Lewis talk about surrender, and surrendering to parts of your life that you cannot control. Surrendering to the fact that you don’t have all the answers and and you cannot solve everything that is in your sphere. We have to surrender to the fact that sometimes life is shit, and things don’t always work out, and just because we cannot solve or influence things right now does not mean that we are less. Throwing our hands in the air and surrendering allows others to help, and allows you to concentrate on what you can do.
So that is what I did. I first surrendered to the fact that Foggy was in my head, and I felt sad, anxious, angry and irritated, for a number of different things that I can do little about at the moment. I allowed myself to feel those emotions. I recognised the route of these emotions and I was perfectly entitled to feel that way. Fighting the emotions and trying to deny them just made me worse. After a few hours of surrendering and wallowing I started to feel better. The strong emotions started to pass. I could then examine the route to these emotions, which was the effects of the pandemic on my working patterns and my social life. I could then start to look at what I could adjust and what I could not. It also gave me the time to explore the purpose for all of my activities and give them a rating of importance. Now this is all a work in progress, and I no doubt will be examining this for sometime. But what surrendering does is allow you to control what you can, and adjust your mindset towards stuff you cannot. I can now see my world how it really is. All our worlds are neither wholly wonderful or wholly terrible. Our world is a spectrum, and throughout our lives we will experience all aspects of it. We have to surrender to this and see that all of it is helpful even the most challenging aspects of it.
Surrender to your world accept it for what it is and start embracing your journey rather than racing towards your destination and missing the views.
Be kind to yourself and others and stay safe.