When to Surrender

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It’s hard not to worry when you have something to worry about. There’s always something to worry about. One thing that life will prove over and over again is that things don’t always turn out the way we would want them to. Often things will happen that turn our lives upside down and leave us feeling inside out. Things lurk on our horizons ominously. We look at possible future scenarios when something “not good or normal” starts to happen, and generally what we will immediately latch onto is the worst possible outcome. Then we worry about it. It doesn’t matter how many times we try and focus on possible great results, those little negative thoughts grow hugely regardless of how small they are when they first enter our thoughts.

It then amazes us how right we were. We tell people how we saw the whole thing coming. We knew that that mess would happen, and it did, exactly how we knew it would. We say “Bah Humbug!” to those Law of Attraction weirdoes when they tell us we brought it on ourselves with our negative thinking. How dare they add insult to injury by insinuating that we would invite such horribleness into our own lives?

Sometimes it’s true though. Notice I said sometimes. We do seem to bring it on with our beliefs.

Little children don’t attract nasty things. Do they? Those who believe in reincarnation would say it’s karma. Others would blame the sins of the fathers. Unfortunately some even blame God. The truth is that most of our trauma is caused by people. We live in societies of our own creation. Poverty, lack of guidance and education, and worry, can make for some pretty bad parenting skills. Evils from cancer causing chemicals to cruelty, torture, terrorism, and poverty are pretty much of our very own making. We learn from our parents, repeating their behaviours towards us, teaching our children what they “showed” us. Divisions are drawn between the haves and the have nots from birth. We are taught that we are superior to those whose skins are different shades and those who have to scrabble to survive, and are so stupid they wouldn’t know what caviar was if it hit them on the nose.

Funny thing is though, that no matter how much you have, you will still have things to worry about. These things might not seem to be as bad as wondering whether or not you will be warm enough sleeping under a cardboard box in a shop doorway on a snowy night, but they will consume your waking hours nevertheless. They will leave you in a state of anxiety or even terror. Your body will react in sympathy to your thoughts, and your thoughts will then react even more to the raised levels of cortisol and other dodgy chemicals that your body thinks you will need to run away from or fight the oncoming threat.

It’s almost a relief when the bad thing you knew was on its way happens. Then you can begin to react to something concrete to recover, and sometimes you do, and sometimes you don’t. Then it is past, and a set of new worries present themselves for you to choose from, and you do, and so the cycle continues until you face the final great worry of whether you’re heading up or down when you depart this mortal coil, not to mention, how sore will it get before that actually happens?

How many stories do we hear of terminal cancer victims who accept their lot and decide to cash in all their retirement money and blow it all on an outrageously cool bucket list, only to find that their cancer mysteriously disappears? I’ve heard a couple. They surrender to what has been, what will be, and try to make the best of things. They stop worrying about the cancer growing and killing them painfully, and for some odd reason the cancer actually does stop growing and doesn’t kill them. They sometimes then go on to live lives that inspire others, having a ball along the way, until they finally do move on to whatever the next great adventure is for them on the other side of our unavoidable big sleep.

Surrender is not curling up into a ball and muttering “Woe is me”. Surrender is accepting what is without accepting the seemingly unavoidable outcome. The biggest mistake we make when something nasty is heading our way is to freeze and wait for it. If something seems unavoidable we shouldn’t be sitting in immobile terror until it arrives. We should surrender to the fact that it could happen, do what we can to avoid it or soften the blow, and then continue to live our lives the best way that we can. The fabulous thing about this crazy life is that sometimes there are wondrous miracles waiting on the other side of happenings that appear to be certain to completely destroy us in one way or another. And sometimes even though they appear to be heading towards us just as surely as a slow train, they simply don’t happen. Either way, worrying about them is not going to stop them if they truly are unavoidable.

It’s pretty obvious that regardless of the hands we are dealt in life, no matter what anyone or anything does to us, the purpose of our lives is to do the best that we can with what we have, in order to become the best that we can be. That thing that we are—our soul—our very I—is all that we get to take with us when the party is over, and the point is to make that thing that we are the most wonderful thing that it can be. Sometimes what we have is painful, awful, or seemingly too much to bear, but the truth is that we were built to bear hard things. They make us grow where it counts—in our hearts and souls. It’s true what they say—what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, but only if you surrender without giving up.

You surrender to your reality of the sourest lemons you could imagine, hitting you in the face, and then you can see what you can make of them. You don’t waste any of your time hating them for giving you a black eye—how could that possibly help you? Never mind lemonade—you’re going to try and make the sweetest, most opulent pie on the planet with those nasty little sods that were sent your way to make you lie down and expire from the very nastiness of them. If they’re just too horrible to transform, then walk away from them if you can, and see if there are any cherry trees on the distant horizon—there usually are. Start walking, no matter how far away those trees are, no matter how sore your feet are, keep walking. Those sweet cherries will always be worth the effort.

The sooner that we learn that nobody on this planet owes us anything, and that no matter how terrible the things are that other people have done to us, we always have the choice of surrendering to what is behind us—even when it’s only one minute behind us—and deciding to take the first step to something better. Not only is it a choice, it’s a necessity. It’s why we’re here. It’s not our job to suffer, powerlessly waiting for the next blow, or worrying about the next disaster. There is nothing we can do to change what has happened or been done, but at any second we honestly can decide to stop giving our thoughts, time, life, to anything negative that can’t be changed.

No matter how tiny the step to making that sweet pie is, you will find that there are forces all around much more powerful than those nasty little ones that send you those thoughts of a terrifying future, and those good guys are just waiting for your baby step so that they can help you turn it into a mighty, unstoppable stride on the journey to your best possible future. You are the only one that can begin it though. You have to surrender all the negativity, all the thoughts of hatred of self or others—ditch the self-pity no matter how much you think you are entitled to it. Focus on those cherries and inch your foot just a tiny bit towards what you want. No matter how out of reach it might seem right now, you will be surprised when you find that when you focus with belief on whatever scrap of good you can see, it will grow faster than you can imagine, and soon you will wonder what you were worrying about in the first place. You will be amazed at your own power for good, and that the truth really is that the harder you think about something, the more likely it is to happen. Even great things.

Sometimes really, really bad things happen to people, sometimes for their whole lives. This is usually because that when they were little they learned to expect only negative outcomes. So they take these beliefs into their adult lives, and always anticipating the worst, the worst consistently shows ups in their realities. Even when they do read books or articles on the power of the positive, they just can’t do it. That’s because deep down they really don’t believe it. They feel undeserving of good things because they were educated from their first conscious thought that they truly didn’t deserve anything good, or even what the world would see as a normal human right. They probably acted out because the soul always knows that the true way of life shouldn’t be full of evil happenings. So their buried guilt from their own responses to pain just reinforces their belief that they are going to get what’s coming to them forever, and that what’s coming will always hurt them.

It’s not easy to surrender those beliefs, and sometimes even harder to surrender guilt. It’s hard to break out of a lifetime habit of anxiety and depression with a happy thought or two. So even when you do make the decision that you want better for yourself whether you “deserve” it or not, in some cases that first tiny step—that first action towards a brighter finish to your life—is much harder than running a marathon. Work is sometimes needed. The painful work of self-acceptance—self love. There is a lot of help with getting your mind healed enough to put your foot forward though. Read You Can Heal Your Life, by Louise Hay, just about anything by Marianne Williamson, The Gifts of Imperfection by Brenė Brown, and most importantly, have a look at what you really are inside.

Dive into your own shadows within, and realise that every single one of us has to fail in order to understand what failure is. We have to feel remorse in order to know that what we have done is wrong. We have to understand that the most important thing to understand about ourselves is that it’s OK to fall. It’s normal to be damaged when people have damaged us. And it’s OK to heal ourselves and move on from anything—literally anything—negative and eventually find that we like ourselves. That warts and all we think we’re cool. We surrender all that horrible past, we give our past selves a large and loving hug, and we tell them it’s going to be OK now—we love them no matter what’s been done to them—no matter what they have done—we’re going to drive the bus from here, but they can come out for another hug whenever they want to, but without a doubt this bus is heading towards love, happiness, and the joy of acceptance of good things now. Even when dark clouds form on the horizon again—as they always do—we’re going to shift up a gear in the knowledge that sometimes dark clouds don’t mean a bad storm, and that even when the storm really does come, screeching, howling, blowing off roofs, and uprooting trees, it always passes, and sometimes there are rainbows on the other side. Always try to surrender the lemons and make a slow cherry pie instead. Sometimes one tiny baby step is all that you need to begin to make your ending fabulous.

Your life is meant for you to live it the way you choose. Giving up is a choice. Never take it. Surrender the evil behind you, or where you are now, and hold on tightly to the light ahead, even when all you can see is a tiny pinprick of it.


Don’t Worry, Be Happy

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If you’ve never had a reason to feel guilt in your life – well – jolly dee then. I’m great at guilt, and I sometimes have to give myself a shake to stop heading over the hill with it and just being a miserable sod forevermore. I carried all sorts of guilt and regret around with me for so many years that it coloured every aspect of my life some sort of shade of grey. Then – a couple of years ago – I got into karma yoga, and for a respectably long time I lived according to about ninety five percent of its teachings. Some things I don’t believe need to be given up to be a good person, so I never did give them up. Now I’m back to most of my old sinnin’ ways, but I managed to hang on to quite a lot of the good stuff.

One thing I’ve learnt is that guilt is a good thing – in moderation. Just the same as all the other emotions we are given to deal with, it serves a purpose. In this case the purpose of being aware that we have done something wrong, so it’s just as educational as all the others. It should never go on forever though. I don’t think that whoever’s in charge of things around here would get a kick out of anyone wallowing in sadness and despair for years and years because of something that has been done, and can’t be undone. Sometimes you have to forgive yourself just as you forgive others in order to move on with your life, and not compound whatever you’ve done wrong to warrant your guilt by wasting the rest of it.

Casting a really honest eyeball back on my own life was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Memories of painful things are sometimes best left buried according to quite a lot of people, and sometimes the memories of the mistakes and hurts inflicted by yourself are much more hurtful looking back than the memories of the hurts done to you. Blah, blah, get to the point Jo. The thing is, that once something is done or said, it generally can’t be undone or unsaid. Some people never take the blame for their own hurtful actions, blaming everything else including the kitchen sink instead, rather than accept that nasty guilty feeling. Some put it right out of their minds instantly, and never think about it again, but that causes problems. Whatever is in your memory never goes away. It just sinks to a deeper level – possibly causing invisible problems to your psyche in general, because no matter what you tell yourself to get through your days, at your core you know wrong from right. But maybe you never knew at the time.

That’s why I reckon that properly focusing on these things is good. We’re not the same person we were yesterday. Feel all the guilt or shame, or whatever it is that this memory brings on. Your guilt means that you’re sorry, and that if the same situation arose again, you wouldn’t do now what you did in the first place. Lesson learnt. Make amends to whoever/whatever you hurt as best you can. Then put it away or discard it. It’s all part of the human condition, and part of whatever this crazy lesson is all about. I have a sneaky suspicion that we’re actually supposed to be happy bunnies at the end of it all. So if you truly are sorry, and have done your best to fix or make up for that bad thing that you did or said, move right along with your life, because not being as happy as you can with the life you have ahead is probably going to be another thing to go in the guilty box – a final regret for when you’re finally ready to depart this mortal coil. You have permission to be happy and enjoy yourself. In the words of Stephen King, “Done bun, can’t be undone.” So.

Not sure what brought that on – it’s the rain I reckon. Guilt brought on by rain-rage. Still though, sometimes we do things throughout the course of our lives that are just plain bad, so the best we can do is own them without being destroyed by them, hard or not. It really pains me when I see a friend so overwrought by some instinctive or unthought-out act in their pasts that they literally waste years of their lives. Now – smile and give yourself a hug.

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