The 7 Habits of Happily Surrendered People

By Judith Orloff MD 09/15/15

Judith Orloff MD, author of The Power of Surrender, on how letting go can lead to joy and success.

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I am blessed to have 27 years of sobriety. A day at a time, I am gradually trusting my higher power more and more. A huge part of that trust comes from learning to surrender to God’s will on a deeper and deeper level. As a physician, I’m trained to take control, solve problems, and deal with life-and-death emergencies. I was never trained to surrender to a higher power as part of my work. As a woman in recovery, it has also been a challenge for me to relinquish control—even after I’ve done the footwork to “make things happen.”

A part of me feels that if I don’t do something myself, it won’t be done well or it simply won’t happen. What I’ve grappled with on a spiritual level is, “How can some force other than myself—even God—do a better job taking care of my life than I could?” What I realized is this is my ego speaking, not the intuitive part, which can sense and know a higher power exists that can align with my highest needs in the most perfect way if I just surrender to it. Surrender is a positive, healthy state. Being a surrendered person does not mean one is being passive, is beaten down and so hopeless he or she has "given up." It's quite the contrary. Surrender is a state of living in the flow, trusting what is, and being open to serendipity and surprises.

As I write in my book on the power of surrender, adopting the behaviors and habits of surrendered people helps us improve our relationships, feel love and gratitude, get healthier, give up destructive people and behavior patterns, and become more successful in our personal lives and careers. And that's just the beginning, as far as benefits go.

In my medical practice, I've identified specific habits of surrendered people that dramatically enhance my patients’ well-being and allows them to excel in many aspects of their lives. Here are seven of them that you can practice, too.

1. Recognize you can't control everything.

Being a control freak makes us tense, stressed out, and unpleasant to be with. Surrendered people understand that they can't always change a situation, especially when the door is shut. They don't try to force it open. Instead, they pay attention to their own behavior, look at the situation at hand, and find a new, different, and creative way to get beyond the obstacles. Remember, if you are powerless to change a situation, you always have the power to change your own attitude. 

2. You are comfortable with uncertainty.

Fixating on the outcome or needing to know all the details of an upcoming event, such as a trip, causes people to be upset when things don't go their way, overly focused on the future, and unable to bounce back easily. Inflexible people are susceptible to anger, distress, and depression. Surrendered people go with the flow, shrug it off when an unplanned situation happens, and tend to be happier, more lighthearted, and resilient.

3. You remember to exhale during stress.

We have two choices when things pile up at work or we're surrounded by energy vampires who leave us feeling depleted. We can get frantic, hyperventilate, shut down, and become reactive. Needless to say, these responses to stress just make us more stressed. Surrendered people have the ability to pause, take a deep breath, and observe. Sustaining silence and circumspection are two behaviors that lead to better, healthier outcomes.

4. You are powerful without dominating.

The most influential person in the room isn't the one who is being a bully, talking loudly, and imposing him- or herself on others. Surrendered people understand that true power comes from being respectful and listening. Surrendered people know themselves and are empathetic toward others. They don't measure themselves by how much they are liked, nor do they compete for attention. When they sit quietly in a room, others always seem to come to them.

5. You feel successful apart from your job or net worth.

Surrendered people enjoy life, relish their personal development, and value their friends. They may have an exceptionally good career and be wealthy, but they are more concerned with meaning and fulfillment. The drive to acquire money and power is a behavior that drains people of their passion and emotional connection to others.

6. You can admit when you’re wrong.

People who hold on to grudges, insist on being right, and try to change other's minds have a difficult time maintaining healthy, happy relationships. Surrendered people easily forgive. They are open to new ideas, and aren't attached to being "right." As a result, people love working and collaborating with them. Others seek them out as mediators and advisors. They are more laid back and relaxed than their rigid counterparts, which makes them highly valued by others.

7. You are passionate and express your emotions in a healthy way.

People who feel the need to push and control tend to keep their feelings bottled up. As a result, they get shut down or remote, and their feelings come out in twisted, unhealthy ways. They become irritable, passive-aggressive, or volatile, for example. Surrendered people make great lovers. They can be spontaneous and playful. They love to feel and express their emotions in a positive, loving way. They look vibrant, healthy, and energetic.

If you are in a 12-step program, practicing the above strategies will help you keep surrendering more, one day at a time. Surrender is a daily practice. Sometimes it means just getting down on your knees and praying to be willing to receive guidance from a higher power. Sometimes, it means surrendering fear and surrendering to the power of love. The point of surrender is to let go of the negative emotions that keep you in a fearful state. Then you can feel more joy, compassion and a lightness of being in your life. 

Judith Orloff MD is a psychiatrist, intuitive healer, and New York Times bestselling author who synthesizes the pearls of traditional medicine with cutting edge knowledge of intuition, energy, and spirituality. This article is based on her national bestseller, The Power of Surrender. www.drjudithorloff.com. 

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