Letting go or surrendering to what is—not how you want things to be, when you want them, or with whom you want them —is one of the most difficult but ultimately liberating practices you can incorporate into your daily life. We want so much. A new job. A nicer house. A partner. A baby. Flatter abs. More money. And while we’re working toward these dreams, and fretting over when they are going to arrive, we miss out on life. We miss out on the possibilities. I know because I spent decades depressed and anxious because I couldn’t surrender to the flow of life. I thought that if I didn’t constantly DO SOMETHING to reach my goals, I wasn’t going to get to where I wanted to be. And if my plans didn’t come together in the timeframe and fashion I envisioned, I panicked or curled up in a ball, wondering what was wrong with me. Even when I did achieve or experience moments of joy, I assumed it was fleeting and the cycle started all over again. This need to feel in control my life, ironically, left me feeling utterly helpless and afraid.
If any of this sounds familiar, learn from all of the therapy I’ve had, self-help books I’ve read, and experts I’ve interviewed to free yourself. These are just a few techniques that worked for me so try whatever resonates with you. Surrender is a life-long practice but I promise: it gets easier the more you do it!
1. Watch your mind. Notice how it is constantly trying to solve for X or worry about Y. It’s exhausting! There are unlimited people and events that we have no control over, and yet our tendency is to try to pre-empt anything bad from happening by thinking about it. The only thing you can control is yourself; let the rest go.
2. Stay hyper-present. Easier said than done, I know! But more often than not, right now isn’t the problem. It’s dwelling on the past or worrying about the future than takes us down. Meditation really helps with this, but so does simply noticing your breath, the color of the sky, the taste of your food. Be in it.
3. Notice happy accidents. A healer taught me this exercise: make a list of 5-7 of the best things that have ever happened to you. For example, mine included my best friend, living in London, getting a dog. Notice how many of these things, if any, were completely in your control. More likely than not, they were unplanned, or at least not exactly what you had planned.
4. Let go of the oars. I love and use this visual from Abraham-Hicks often. We are taught to paddle/try/work harder to get what we want. But when we go with the flow of life instead of resisting it, when we let go of the oars and stop paddling upstream, the boat will turn downstream and take us exactly where we need to be. In other words, by staying true to yourself and listening to your heart, you will always arrive at your destination.
5. What if it’s better than you imagined? Meaning, what if the universe has even more amazing plans in store for you that you could dream up for yourself? Fixating on an outcome or assuming you know what’s best for you blocks you from the unexpected gifts.
Born and raised in Minneapolis by surprisingly low-maintenance parents, Elizabeth Dehn (aka Bets) spent her awkward years whipping up DIY face masks before founding BeautyBets.com in 2009 as a way to share trusted beauty advice with discerning readers everywhere. Since then, Beauty Bets has evolved into an inspirational space where Elizabeth’s penchant for finding the perfect red lipstick is surpassed only by her commitment to helping others achieve self-love and acceptance. A lifestyle editor by trade and a storyteller at heart, Elizabeth has spent more than a decade creating compelling content for Target, Nordstrom, Mpls. St. Paul Magazine, ClementineDaily.com and an award-winning skincare collaboration with One Love Organics. A hippie disguised in J.Crew, Elizabeth is also a crystal-carrying, amateur tarot-card reading, certified Reiki healer.
Thank you, Elizabeth for guest posting! Want more from her? You can find her on social media @beautybets or her new podcast, @healerspodcast.