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What Does Surrender Or “Letting Go” Actually Mean?

I used to be very uneasy with the concept of “surrender” or “letting go.”

Because I’m someone who hates feeling out of control, and “surrender” sounded too much like “submission,” which I don’t believe serves people.

I would notice certain people in my life who would talk about “going with the flow” but then constantly complain about being stuck in the same toxic relationship or work environment.

I’d say: “So are you doing anything about it?”

Them: “… Well, but he’s doing that or my boss said this …”

Me: “Okay, so no, YOU’RE not doing anything.”

Like they were just waiting for divine intervention.

So I was afraid that if I too “Surrendered,” it would kind of feel like I’m held hostage in a car with Life as the crazy driver.

And I’d have no idea if it would go in the direction I want, go around in circles, or like … crash into a tree. 🙁

But then I would notice another set of people who’d be rocking it in their work, life, and relationships AND they’d also claim to “go with the flow.”

When I probed them on how they figured things out to get to where they are, they would talk about setting goals and all, but they’d also across-the-board say that their best ideas came when they weren’t looking for it.

It was like when they weren’t trying to find it, then the best ideas just show up for them at the right place at the right time.

So I was thought “Ok … were these people also not doing anything and just waiting for divine intervention?”

So as much as I resisted the word “Surrender,” I couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something there I’m not quite grasping because I saw it both benefit some people and sabotage others.

What makes the difference

As I’ve come to get really intimate which this concept in both theory and practice, I realize that those who sabotage themselves think:

  • Surrender = Submission (or Giving Up)

Whereas those who empower themselves treat:

  • Surrender = Outsourcing (or Giving PERMISSION)

Surrender means “Giving Permission” to someone or something outside of yourself to take care of and figure things out for you.

Surrender means Giving Permission.

Rather than giving parts of your power away, it AMPLIFIES the amount of power you have over your situations

You can give someone permission. You can take it away. (You can even take it away without being consciously aware of it.)

So picture this.

Instead of being in a car with Life as the driver, you’re hiking along a path trying to get to your destination.

You’re taking action and moving in what you think is the right direction, but you’re not alone.

You have friends, let’s call them Nudges, that want to help you get to your destination.

You allow these little Nudges along the way to show up and tell you a shortcut or a path to an even better destination than what you could have come up with yourself.

And in order to receive what these Nudges have to say, you can’t be so fixated on any particular one way of doing things.

But notice you’re not just standing still waiting for the Nudges to show up. You’re still taking action along the way.

The Nudges are just there to help guide you.

2 Pre-requisites (before you hand over permission)

Before you hand over permission though, there are 2 pre-requisites that make a difference between those who make Surrender work for them and those who don’t.

1. They get clear on what they truly desire (to feel) first.

They get clear on what you truly desire, like really clear to the point where they can feel it, touch it, taste it … as if they already have it.

If you ask them what their ideal outcome feels like, they can almost describe it to you in a way that makes YOU feel like you have it. There’s no “oh, well, I guess it’d be nice it this was better…”

They don’t have to think about it at all because they’ve gotten so clear on it.

If you don’t get super clear and psyched about where you’re going at the emotional level (i.e., not just what something will look like, but how it will feel like), it’s easy to be led by the wrong Nudges.

Note: When you’re led by the wrong Nudges, you end up getting what you “thought” you wanted but end up being unhappy anyway.

This is the difference between:

Someone who just wants their relationship to be “better” but has no idea what it feels like so they don’t do anything pro-active and instead let themselves get dragged along into something they ultimately don’t want.


Someone who has a clear idea of what they want and behaves in a way that will naturally filter out those who aren’t good fits so the right-fit person gets to show up.

2. They still take action.

They’re not sitting around twiddling their thumbs while waiting for divine intervention.

They keep doing whatever they believe moves them in the right direction AND are simultaneously be open to course-correcting as new nudges shows up in their lives.

They’re just not attached to any specific “how” of getting it.

It’s the difference between:

Trying to make money or solve a problem in your work or business and getting so fixated on your specific how of doing it that you don’t even see any other options.


Someone who is willing to try something and be open me to new ideas that show up in the form of a shower thought or even like … unrelated experience.

What this looks like

Say I’m in a relationship. I can choose to give my romantic partner permission to take care of me and do his part in our relationship, whatever that means for us.

Because I give him permission, I outsource the responsibility of having to own his part in our relationship. And I put faith into trusting that he can do it better than I could have had I micro-managed.

And as long as we’re heading in the right direction of my desired outcome for our relationship, I see no reason to revoke that.

However, if something doesn’t go the way I like, I express my feelings about it and then give my partner permission to respond to that. It’s not a “blindly follow someone else” thing.

It’s a: “I have a direction and I have faith that this person will do their part but if we deviate from the direction, I’ll express my thoughts and feelings as I wish and give them free will to respond as they wish.”

And if the relationship ends up being abusive or something that’s definitely heading in the wrong direction, unless you’re physically oppressed to keep being with this person, then you have the right to revoke that permission! Get out.

The difference between those who do the SUBMISSION version of Surrender instead of GIVING-PERMISSION version is that they think they’re stuck and don’t have the power to choose.

Imagine that we’re CEOs of our own lives. We give permission to the other “players” in our lives to do their part and we can revoke it if they don’t or can’t.

Ultimately, you can’t control anyone’s free will anyway. I can’t even control my cat.

But you can control who to outsource to and for how long.

Surrender means Giving Permission for others to figure out the how for you in areas you aren’t in control of or are the best person for anyway.

Personal Examples

How talking to toddlers improved my Mindset.

So I was talking to my toddler niece the other day, and I know I can’t talk to her like I do with an adult.

Which made me realize that sometimes when I make affirmations, it goes against a past trauma too much such that my “inner child” objects to it.

I realized because of my experience with my niece, I need to rephrase these particular affirmations in a way that a 5-year-old can understand…

Because that’s the age where I experienced the trauma.

That means that’s the age of the person I’m actually talking to when I say affirmations.

So saying “I am enough” appeals to my adult brain but not my inner child. “Enough” doesn’t mean anything to my particular 5-year-old self.

But saying “You’re cool and I want to be your friend” – THAT appeals to my child brain, the 5-year-old who was picked on and just wanted friends.

I couldn’t have learned this from anywhere else if I was “looking” for it but only from opening myself up to inspiration from everywhere in life.

How listening to the voices in my head improved my Sleep

I picked up meditating 2 years ago to help with stress relief. And to this day, despite helping me with many things, it’s only helped a trivial amount with stress relief.

However, the other day I was meditating and I realized that my brain wanted to share with me everything that occurred that day. Usually, I just go back to my breath.

On that particular day though, I felt nudged to just listen to it as if I were listening to a girlfriend gossip.

I kept doing this for a few days, which is a way I’ve never meditated before, but I noticed I fell asleep so much faster at night than I used to, because my nighttime mental chatter was gone. 🤯

Sidenote: I have a theory now that if you let your brain rant to you during the day and actually sit down to listen to it (but not engage), she’ll more likely shut up at night because she already got it out of our system earlier in the day. 😂

Had I been stuck on “no, this is the right way to meditate,” I wouldn’t have given myself the permission to listen to what my inner gossip brain had to say.

And had I been stuck on “no, meditation is for stress relief,” I wouldn’t have even noticed how it helped my sleep. Or I probably would have quit meditating a long time ago.

See the “hows” but don’t be attached to them

I realize how limited my own experience and knowledge is, and so while I always have some awareness of what “hows” are available to me right now, I’m also open to inspiration or guidance from the rest of the world because I know my brain is limited.

Adopting this paradigm shift has helped me be more creative and notice so many more opportunities & ideas than I would have had I kept being married to MY own pre-conceived “hows”.

Getting to my desired outcomes also became more fun because it put me in a naturally more exploratory and therefore playful mood.

The “incantation”

I’ll literally say to myself sometimes: “I give you permission to take care of me” or “figure this part out for me.”

And sometimes the “you” is just “Life” in general, sometimes I think of it as “Future Me,” sometimes it’s actual people or even imaginary people I believe will show up to help me in the future.

I find that it really doesn’t matter many times because choosing words that resonate with you because mindset work is a subjective thing.

I encourage everyone to create their own definitions and names for what resonates for them, always.

Mindset stuff is a game of creating your own subjective reality (not to be confused with “objective” reality). For subjective reality, you can set your own rules. That’s how you infuse it with meaning.

I hope this helps anyone else whose mind struggles with the concept of Surrender and Letting Go and making it make sense logically too.

It’s actually super simple and once you get it.

It’s like exploratory play.

It gets to be fun. It gets to be easy.

Watch The Video Version Here

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