active surrender

I‘ve been contemplating Eckhart Tolle’s theories on surrender lately. His ditty goes a little somethin’ like this: during an argument or fight with another person, or within yourself, if you find yourself riled up, becoming loud or animated, that is your cue. It’s time to shift into the position of the witness, watching your own behavior, your defensiveness as it arises, your own need to feel heard, for him to see your point, how hard you’re holding onto your position. My way. All that is just Ego. Ego. So let it go. Surrender. Walk outside of yourself in that prickling moment of defensiveness and look at your behavior, how you’re behaving. Surrender to it, internally, acknowledge that it is there, these feelings, and WATCH them go. Observe what happens when you diffuse the situation by simply saying, I surrender. Not to YOU, I don’t, no. I don’t surrender with a “you win,” said with the tone of someone superior, who is above fighting, no. That’s just another form of resisting, of rationalizing that you are indeed right, taking the high road, because you know you’re “right.” Instead, you let it go with a thoughtful “no,” not a “no” barked in frustration, but a “no” that is from a calm place, a state of knowing for yourself what is best for you. Little by little, this practice is meant to become easier, catching yourself. I understand this. I get it. Though I wonder how it ultimately resolves conflict.

I surrender to these feelings that you’re bringing up for me to deal with, my ego, my discomfort, my frustration, because when I am in that state, I cannot hear anyone. I don’t want to really communicate. I’ve got too much to learn. Why are my feather’s getting ruffled? Why not just surrender to it? Don’t resist, observe it and let it go. Got it.

But when it comes to our internal conflicts, of how we ought to spend our lives, career, day, how do we actually surrender, give it up, let it go, without becoming immobile? Tolle says that surrender isn’t indecision, it’s not a paralyzing choice where you throw up your hands in defeat and surrender. One can surrender and make plans. “Active surrender.” I’m still trying to “get it.” I guess it’s that we recognize whatever fear or discomfort is at stake, acknowledge it, surrender to it, watch it, and keep on keepin’ on, facing it, not judging it, letting whatever happen, happen. Not fixated on the outcome, just following the choice we’ve made and taking what comes. Still, “surrender” still feels like a pajamas on the sofa day, where I’m focused on the “now,” how my body feels, the click tick of the keyboard beneath my fingers, an unproductive day.

How do we surrender without giving up, without sitting on a sofa to eat Cheetos instead of working? Because the work is what I’m fearing, fear is keeping me from writing. I do anything but write to avoid how the writing might not be big enough, original of an idea enough, funny enough, sell enough. It becomes enough. So, I don’t do it. Fear. Fear that I couldn’t be a bigger sell than what I’ve already done. That’s what this is all about. Fear. Fear of being told I’m not good enough AND BELIEVING IT. That’s the key, mind you. Because to be told we’re not good enough, that we suck, that we’re not worth it, that’s one thing. But to believe it and let it become part of your story, that’s a choice. And it seems like you’re letting someone else choose your life for you.

I guess I just need to surrender to the fear, give it a nice how do you do, see it sitting there on my sofa, smoking menthol cigarettes, shaking its head, tell me I’m wasting my time, offer it some sangria and be done with it. Okay, I get it. You’ve moved in. Fine. Stay, don’t stay. Whatever. I’m getting back to it now.



  1. That sucks..once you are published you still worry about future sales/keeping the contract I guess. I hope you get past the self doubt. Turning off the negative ‘tapes’ can be a lifelong project. I have heard of Eckart Tolle and some very sound ideas of his; I might read one of his books. Next time I’m in the thick of an argument I might try that approach. It will be SO HARD though. I am queen of the last word haha.

  2. You should check out For a fee of around $70 a month, you get to be part of an online writers’ accountability group. I used it to successfully complete my dissertation, but I believe they have clubs for creative writers as well. I tried everything else, morning pages etc, but this is the only thing that worked for me in terms of getting out of “the fear.”

  3. I’m a big believer in the idea that we do what we need to do, whether we recognize it or not. And then, our culture teaches us to feel guilty if we are not doing what we think we are supposed to be doing–or we’re “wasting time”. You’ve had a boatload (oh, ok, a shitload) of change in your life and you have two adorable children and a husband in your life. You’re young, too. Kick back, let go of “should” and enjoy what you have. When it’s time to write again, you’ll know. Blessings to you all.

  4. Crazy coincidence. I have been trying to figure out the whole surrender thing myself lately. For several months really. The Jesus people are always talking about “giving it up to God” and I have never quite been able to comprehend that process. They talk about it constantly in yoga too. Surrender. Let it go. I get the saying it, but the actual doing it part, well, I have no idea what to actually do. Last week I was talking to one of my sisters about a problem and she said the best thing to do is nothing. Just stop worrying about it, take no action and let it work itself out and that’s about the closest I can get at this point. Maybe I’m not enlightened enough yet.

    Now the writing. That’s entirely different. I took a workshop with Ron Carlson and his advice was “sit your ass down and write.” Just do it. Some days I only manage a couple sentences, but it’s something. We writers all suffer from crippling self doubt. The trick is to ignore it and write anyway. You’re good enough. I promise.

  5. Fear subjects you to second hand smoke and judgement- and you would offer her some sangria? Lol!

    You can’t overcome fear, so you personified, acknowledged it and in moving on, WROTE a post. That is encouraging.

    It reminded me of Stephen Pressfield’s book, theWARofART.

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