Surrender Without Quitting: Accept What Is

Surrendering with White Flag

I have been contemplating a new wrist tattoo that has a dandelion with the word “surrender” floating away as if set free in a wish. This concept of letting go seems to go against every bit of my type A personality’s desire to “power it out” and “get it done”. However, I would suggest to you that surrendering is the hardest skill to learn of them all. How do we learn how to let go and just be? How can we ignore societies ongoing messages that drive us to achieve, achieve, achieve? I suggest to you that to letting go is the opposite of driving through your life at 110% of capacity…that the truth to living a fulfilling life filled with mindful presence is to actually take a deep breath, exhale it out, and surrender.

There is resistance around the idea of surrendering as it can feel like quitting. Surrendering is not quitting. Surrendering is allowing yourself to live in the moment of your life and to realize that in this very moment this is as good as it gets. If you can learn how to let go and be fully present in your life, you can surrender the anxieties that surround all of the “what ifs” that we all tend to ruminate about in our heads. What if I lose my job? What if my spouse cheats on me? What if I never lose these 20 pounds? What if I get cancer? What if my son doesn’t get into that college he is fighting for? Quitting is rolling over and allowing your life to run you; it has nothing to do with surrender. Surrendering is allowing space to just be, as is.

You can surrender and decide you are never willing to quit. You never “quit” trying to be mindful, eat healthier, improve upon your body, learn to relax, living fully and with passion, etc.. Never give up in fighting for the things you want in your life whatever that means for you. To give up self-care is to give up on yourself. Always do your best…and then surrender to what you currently experience as your life. Know that for this very second, what you see is what you get. There is no purpose in feelings of bitterness for what you may or may not have in this second. Surrender to your reality as is.

Why does this matter?

I am always sharing different themes around our internalized myths about what we believe to be in our control (everything) when in fact what we control is very little (almost nothing). We control our own individual words, actions and behaviors. We have no control over how other’s perceive us, what other’s say to us, or how our bosses act. The more we try to control our external environment, the more frustrated we become and the less present we are in our lives. We become focused on the future, potential catastrophic anxiety inducing worries that may happen, or we hold on to past vulnerabilities and pains. What we don’t tend to do is be present in this very moment breath by breath.

Sometimes when a client comes in for therapy, they work really hard at trying to task through the work of becoming more aware of their own internal processes by getting mad at themselves or frustrated by their thoughts or the way they feel. They despise their own judging minds and thoughts. If this ever happens to you, I suggest you try to imagine letting go instead of criticizing yourself. Your thoughts can spiral out of control and you can choose to non judgmentally notice that they are present, then surrender and not engage in the emotions that will only fuel the fire of your judgements. Give yourself permission to be just who you are and allow that to be good enough. Let go of all of the ways in which you feel you are not doing what you “should” be doing according to some internal judgement of yourself and be free. Be good enough. Surrender. It is so much less effort to let yourself go in this way.

What can you do right this second as you read this to let go? Surrendering sets you free. Be free.

Stacey Neil is a Licensed Psychotherapist and Personal Trainer in private practice in Los Gatos, CA. She can be reached at 408.827.5139.


Ending Victimhood: How to Own Your Life


Want to improve your life immediately? Stop being a victim. Stop blaming others for the injustices that are going on for you in your life, work, relationships, friendships, diet, exercise….blah blah blah…. You don’t need to see a therapist, coach, or lifestyle consultant to do this. This is a very simple thing to do, and I suggest that it is in your own best interest (along with the interest of those who care about you) to do it immediately. My experience shows that being a victim is the quickest way to lose all personal power, to be pathetic and to give yourself permission to be unable – or unwilling – to change.

Don’t get me wrong, tragically, there are true victims in our society everywhere including children of abuse, domestic violence partners, and families trapped in poverty; however, I highly doubt that these are the victims you and I know. You know who I am referring to. Individuals that refuse to take ownership of their actions, choices, or the consequences of their behaviors. Victimhood kills personal empowerment. It creates weakness and apathy. For any change to occur the first step must be to take charge of yourself and to stop blaming others for the things in your life that are not going as you wish.


I mentioned that this is simple; however, that does not mean it’s easy. Simple means you can truly change your thinking this exact minute. As you read this blog you can choose to begin to think in an empowered manner. Use words in your head like choice, my responsibility, my part. Be prepared though, that it can be incredibly hard to face yourself, stand in front of the mirror, and see who you really are. When you begin to empower yourself by realizing you are creating your reality, your choices are dictating your answers, and you are exactly as you imagine yourself to be, it is SCARY. You become vulnerable. It is this place of fear; however, that leads to power, strength, and most importantly true change.

Does your partner treat you poorly? Are you feeling sorry for yourself because you are not being appreciated at work? Do you feel like you ended up in someone else’s life, marriage or home? All of these things are on you. We teach others how to treat us, what we are willing to put up with, how open we are to relaxing our boundaries. US. No one else is able to do that “for us”, or do that “to us”. We are entirely responsible for how we are walking around in this earth, treating others, and letting others treat us. We are the only ones who can use powerful words like “yes”, “no”, or “I feel” when faced with a decision.

I do not want to sound unsympathetic and yet we are a society full of victimization. I just believe that we are perfectly capable of changing our lives in any way we choose and in order to do this we need to begin to take ownership of all of our actions. If we constantly blame others, we are never going to change. How can you change something that you are not “doing” but instead is being “done to you”? Yes, you can remove yourself from the situation, but you also need to own your part in all of the dynamics that make up your life.

I challenge you to become empowered today. Shift your perspective by asking yourself what you can do to change the areas in your life that make you feel like they are being done to you against your wishes. Decide you are done playing a role in any unhealthy dynamics and get help from a therapist, coach, or friend if you cannot find your way out of harmful patterns or behaviors. You can choose to have the life you have always imagined by taking charge of yourself and being authentically you.

Yours in Health,
Stacey Neil