What do you do with the many things of life that are out of your control? My recent quadruple heart bypass operation made me a student of life again. It affected and still affects everything in my life. And in the process I realised I am missing out on so much. Life, business, family, have so much more to offer. There is so much untapped possibility waiting to be unlocked if I am only willing to see it and move with it. But the reality is, while I want control and certainty, the possibility of what can be evades me.
Of course you have to take responsibility. And “if you want something different, do something different”. But the problem comes when you try to control things that are beyond your control or responsibility. It is like going against the waves of the sea fighting your way forward, in stead of letting it be and making use of the energy and possibility it brings. The secret is: moving with the rhythm of life, enjoying the opportunities and taking up your role within that. Whether in business or relationship: don’t force it prematurely, but see the energy, then collaborate and flow with it for the best possible outcome to evolve.
Very poetically, Cecil Murray, a dear friend of mine, recently wrote on his Facebook page something that illustrates this so beautifully:
Autumn came kindly, and I asked the grass:
“What do I need to give death to this winter, so that I might give life to abundance come spring?”
(UPDATE) And the grass sighed softly:
“If you surrender the NEED for certainty, you germinate the SEED of possibility.”
I have always liked control. Driveness was (and unfortunately still is to a great extent) a great part of who I am. Predictability (knowing) makes life so much easier, I thought. However, after the operation I was in a state of total helplessness and dependence. Away was control and certainty. It was at times a struggle to breathe, an effort to turn in bed, to sit up and to eat properly. I had to “go with the flow”. And yet, beautiful things happened, some too deep and wonderful to describe here.
My hospital bed became a place of rediscovery, of accepting love, inviting conversation and showing appreciation. I also got to know some of the struggles and challenges doctors and nurses face every day. What a brave group of people they are! Some of them could share their ordeals and testimonies of Covid-19 and how hard it is to balance life and work. And somehow I think I meant something to them, while being treated, fed, nursed and rehabilitated. Just a listening ear, a curious question, some appreciation, acceptance and encouragement, and perhaps sometimes a fresh perspective. (And now I am not referring to the nonsense I spoke when still recovering from the anaesthesia ☺)
I started to realise that in the past, when I tried to control events, processes and outcomes, I often became somewhat tense and stressed and hurried, my perspective and focus narrowed, my listening abilities decreased, and I limited my search for information to what I deemed important for my goal. I took on myself the responsibility to make things happen, even of what people think and do, and sometimes, with great effort I might have succeeded. But at a cost – of my peace and assumedly that of others. And perhaps at the cost of my health. Adrenaline and cortisol (stress hormones) are great friends of cholesterol (that causes heart failure).
But now I am a student again, learning the secret of surrendering. Amy Johnson uses the following formula to define it:
Surrender = Complete Acceptance of what is + Faith that all is well, even without my input.
Amy explains that surrendering is not inaction (passivity). However, it is taking action from a position of surrendering and openness. It is knowing that the world does not turn because of me. Life is happening and I am invited to participate. I am part of something much bigger than I could ever dream to control.
I started noticing that when I “go with the flow”, something that is almost supernatural and definitely divine, starts happening. When I am weak, I am strong. It is as if God takes over. And I stop forcing matters in the direction I want them to go. I manage to be more sensitive, listening to and “reading” the people and situation, waiting for and using opportunities. Somehow, my best gifts, talents and insights synergise and I manage to connect to the person(s) and the situation on a much deeper level. In this process I am often the one that is the most surprised and excited about the outcome – often so differently to what I could envision or imagine, and yet, in a sense, perfect for now.
It all starts with a pause (to stop running), being mindful of what is going on. Let go of the fear that things might go wrong or might not go the way I want them to be. Remember: you are not God or the dictator of life, but a participant. Then connect, flow and enjoy the journey.
I learned that the world is not a hostile place that I need to compete with or protect myself from. It is full of people to love and has abundant opportunities to enjoy. The more I choose to love the world and the people in it, the easier it becomes to be a difference-maker that adds true value.
There is so much more to say, but I hope this can help us all to choose for a better life at higher levels of happiness, health and joy!