A big part of my job is helping people see challenges as opportunities to grow, and that change isn’t a bad thing. But because of how we are naturally “wired”, and from the lessons we have learned in our lives, making those changes can be hard. To help you ease this resistance, I encourage you to learn to “surrender and soften”; both with yourself and with your partner.
I'm not using the word “surrender” as a suggestion for you to give up or give in. Rather, I’m using it in a spiritual way.
To surrender in spirituality and religion means that a believer completely gives up his own will and subjects his thoughts, ideas, and deeds to the will and teachings of a higher power.
It is about becoming vulnerable and giving up the need to control the situation or the outcome. Surrendering is about being curious, trusting in yourself, and exploring new perspectives.
Making changes in your relationship isn’t always easy. There may be setbacks, and you may want to give up at times. But opportunities for growth are there if you choose to see life that way. When you surrender to a situation, you open up to the possibility of learning - and this growth mindset is required to create something new for your relationship.
Vulnerability makes many of us fearful. Most of us have grown up within a patriarchy where control is valued, and the idea of surrendering seems weak or risky. Yet it is this very risk - vulnerability - that can drive deep change.
Being more vulnerable to your partner and your relationship will go a long way, but you can also practice surrender with yourself. In fact, creating a good relationship with yourself should be your first step! This way, you will be better prepared to deal with challenges that arise in your partnership.
Throughout your day, create moments of pause. Close your eyes and surrender to the moment. Come “home” to yourself, and observe what you see, hear, smell, and feel around you. With practice, you will be able to call upon this grounding feeling whenever you need it. Then when a moment of conflict arises, you can come home to yourself and pause, grounding yourself before you cross the threshold into spaces with others. This can help avoid in-the-moment reactions that you regret later.
No one is perfect, and sometimes we will still react instead of responding to situations. If we can learn from these experiences, we can use this information to create an even better situation in the future. Your relationship provides the backdrop for personal growth. In essence, your relationships show up to provide you with the exact growth you need or the lesson(s) to be learned. We just need to see these situations, or people in our lives, as here for us in this way.
I often ask my clients, “why is this happening for you?” They come to me thinking that life is happening to them, and this question helps them to start building a growth mindset. You can practice this right now by thinking of a problem you are having with your partner:
Start by seeing the problem you have with your partner as a triggering moment. Say to yourself, “I’ve been triggered.”
Surrender to the trigger, and drop back into your home within you. Release any attachments to the situation or your partner.
Notice what is happening for you. What feelings are coming up? Why is that?
What might the moment be asking of you, that would stretch you or your growth?
Imagine yourself on that cliff and being pushed to surrender and let go of any need to control.
It feels scary, doesn’t it? We’ve been trained to be fearful of the unknown, so we keep a death grip on our existing life, situations, and our stories - even when they aren’t serving us any more. It’s time to practice softening.
When you are triggered, feel out of alignment, or find yourself moving into negativity, it’s time to soften. Loosen your grip on all of the things and the need to control the situation. Become present and notice things as an observer, looking for the lesson presented before you decide what action to take next. This will help you with the need to control everything (which is way more responsibility than you need), and will support you to respond to situations in alignment with who you want to be.
Soften your eyes. Do you see your partner with harsh or critical eyes? How can you see them with more love? What do you appreciate about them or are grateful for? See the situation or your partner with fresh eyes and become curious.
Soften your face. Notice the muscles in your face and your body. Where do you hold your tension? If you are feeling the need to control, are worried, or fearful, your muscles will tighten up. Practice softening your face and being present in the moment. Relax your shoulders, your stomach and womb, and let go of any “gripping” in these areas.
Soften your heart. Feel love for yourself, first. How can you be gentle with yourself in your words, thoughts, and actions? Open your heart to feel love for this situation and the possibility that something positive will result from this very moment. What is the next thing you can do to love yourself, and even your partner?
The idea of surrendering and softening is just a different way to encourage a growth mindset. Life is meant to change and shift, as are the relationships we experience along the way. Nothing is set in stone. And when you can embrace change as an opportunity to grow, your experience (and your relationships) will become deeper and richer.