Letting Go: 5 Truths About Surrendering

by Alex Blackwell – 
At times, life may feel like it is spinning out of control. You feel completely powerless over the circumstances being handed to you. During times like these, it may be easier to give up. But you do have another choice – you can choose to let go, surrender control and reclaim the life that belongs just to you.

“Some of us think holding on makes us strong but sometimes it is letting go.” Herman Hesse

Perhaps the greatest contradiction is realizing when you surrender control to the Universe you are in a better position to get what you need to fulfill your life’s purpose. 

Surrendering isn’t about giving up; it’s about letting go. Surrendering isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of strength.
Surrendering allows you to feel less stressed, overwhelmed and anxious. It creates mental space to be present in the moment.
Take a moment and consider this question: 


What do you need to surrender today? It is a relationship, a business venture, or a person you lost in death? Is it a medical prognosis, a painful memory, or the idea of having the perfect life? Do you need to surrender a past failure, a thought or stress?
Surrendering control is hard to do because the need for control is rooted in fear. The uneasiness of not having direct control over what happens is frustrating. Even when the warning signs are clear, you continue to think if you keep trying harder, if you keep doing everything right; if you can just get one step closer to perfection, then you will have want you want.
“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.” Lao Tzu
Unfortunately, the universe doesn’t work like that. Instead, the Universe gives you exactly what you need.  The sooner you realize pushing back against the inevitable only makes you more anxious; the sooner you can go about the business of living your life according to the plan the Universe has for you.
Letting go has been difficult for me, too. The thought of allowing control to a higher power was terrifying. By letting go, I was giving up – or so I thought. Today, I have learned if I’m going to have the life that has been planned for me; I need the Universe to help me find it. Today, I have learned these five truths about surrendering.
These five truths don’t contemplate the absence of self-responsibility; they actually encourage it. The five truths will help you understand that it’s your responsibility to follow your personal destiny – no matter how out of control it may feel at times.

letting go

5 TRUTHS ABOUT SURRENDERING

1. Pain doesn’t have to define you 

Holding on to the pain only keeps you stuck in a place somewhere in the past. The pain no longer has to define who you are. It’s time to let go of pain and welcome confidence, strength and peace into your life. 

2. What you pay attention to grows 

Even though you may not be responsible for everything that happens to you, you are responsible for how you choose to react to what happens to you. The expression like attracts like is especially true when it comes to positive and negative emotions. 

If you chose to remain positive, then positive results are likely to occur. Alternatively, if you decide to be negative and critical, you can expect more negative circumstances to happen. 

3. Begin today, right now 

There is no better time to live your heart’s passion than right now. When the nudge you feel is beginning to pull you in the direction of your life’s purpose and your inner wisdom is telling you to go; then trust and let go. 

4. Open the floodgates of hope 

When you open the floodgates of hope and refuse to allow fear to defeat our faith, you are better able to surrender your problems, ask for help and then follow your heart’s desire. 

5. Forgiveness is a form of letting go but different 

The purpose of forgiveness is not to let the person who harmed you off the hook, the purpose of forgiveness is to end the grief it has cost you. Don’t just let go, forgive and truly surrender the feelings of anger and pain. This may seem difficult, almost impossible, until you attempt to do it.


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Essential Truths You Need to Know


by Alex Blackwell –

It is never too late to bring about lasting change for your life. No matter your present circumstances, not matter what has happened in your past; no matter your age, gender or socioeconomic status, you are the creator of the life you want to live.
Dr. Gordon Livingston, author of Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart, a Vietnam War veteran and practicing psychiatrist has experienced, first hand, the tragedies life can bring upon us. He has also found the necessity to keep joy and comfort alive regardless of the pain endured.
After learning more about Dr. Livingston’s life and the circumstances regarding how he lost his two sons within a thirteen month period, I have been moved by his commitment to preserve hope in a world capable of inflicting such great tragedy. His ability and strength to move forward in spite of the obstacles is inspirational.
‘Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart’ provides 30 essential truths to remind us that while we can’t escape who we are or what has happened to us; we are responsible for who we would like to be and where we want to go. I see incredible value in learning and living these truths. 
Here is how each truth touches my heart; I hope you find hope and value in these, too:

If the map doesn’t agree with the ground, the map is wrong. We are given mental maps as children. Our parents and other adults tell us what is right and what is wrong – sometimes they don’t always get it, well, right. Now as adults, when we find the maps we have relied on for so long can get us lost, we need to recalibrate and create more reliable guides based on what we now know to be true and where we want to go.

We are what we do. We are not what we think, or what we feel, or what we say, we are what we do. Actions do indeed speak louder than words. If you are unhappy with a particular part of your life, take a strong look at what you are doing to be happier.

It is difficult to remove by logic an idea not placed there by logic in the first place. By nature, we are emotional creatures. Often we live and react based on feelings, not logic. Feelings are wonderful, but when we become tied to a particular thought or belief we tend to ignore the fact that change might be necessary. If a negative behavior is driven by an emotion, then we must find a way to still satisfy the emotional need while putting an end to the destructive behavior.

The statute of limitations has expired on most of our childhood traumas. For some, childhood was pleasant, almost idyllic. But for others, when there has been serious physical, sexual or emotional abuse it is important to recognize this and process this with a trained professional. No matter your past, change is the essence of life. In order to move forward in life we need to learn to live in the present.

Any relationship is under the control of the person who cares the least. When relationships end it is typically because of unmet expectations or one person is not feeling love or cherished by the other. For relationships to grow and last both members have to be equal with the love they give; and both should do it, not because they think they have to do it, but because they want to do it.

Feelings follow behavior. No matter how hard we try, we don’t control what we think or what we feel. But, we do know which actions bring us happiness, pleasure and confidence. So, we do the actions that make us feel good. It is the action, the behavior that comes first. Take the next few days to notice how you feel after doing a particular behavior. If you like the feeling, do more of it. If not, change the behavior.

Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid. When we step out and claim what we want from the world a wonderful thing happens – the Universe responds.

The perfect is the enemy of the good. While it’s important to have control over our lives, it can be counterproductive to attempt to control our lives. The energy spent trying to be perfect can keep us from enjoying and appreciating all the good things that exist right before us.

Life’s two most important questions are “Why?” and “Why not?” The trick is knowing which one to ask. Understanding why we do certain things is the first step to change. Until we understand what motivates us, what we get from doing a particular behavior, there is no momentum to begin the change process. Likewise, by asking “Why not?” we begin assessing the risk versus reward aspect which can lead to bringing about productive change in our lives.

Our greatest strengths are our greatest weaknesses. One of my biggest strengths as a person is I’m caring, sensitive and emotional – it is also my greatest weakness. While this strength helps me to build and maintain healthy relationships, it can also make me too reactive and less effective when dealing with conflict. This can create a confusing paradox for me from time-to-time, but having the awareness of the thin line between the two better prepares me to either use my strength or be mindful of my weakness.

The most secure prisons are those we construct for ourselves. What is your fear of change costing you? Too often what keeps us stuck is the belief we can’t move forward. Our head-trash tells us we are not worthy to have our heart’s desire. This fear; this incarceration, prevents us from breaking free and having the life we desire. Remember this: Before you can do anything, you must be able to imagine it. Imagining who and what you want to be, and then taking action, is the key to begin freeing yourself of what is holding you back.

The problems of the elderly are frequently serious but seldom interesting. The thought of our own mortality and demise can be a frightening one. Therefore, our attitude towards the aging can be callous because they are unwanted reminders of what’s ahead for us. However, the elderly can hold great value and wisdom for us. We must remember to show respect and gratitude for those near the end so the cycle can be repeated when it is our turn.

Happiness is the ultimate risk. No matter how painful, sometimes what we know is more comfortable than what we don’t know, even if we are depressed and miserable. Our misery can feel safe because it has been a part of us for so long. To seek happiness, to do things to break free of the depression, is a risk because we don’t know what it looks like or feels like to be happy. The antidote for this is hope and faith.

True love is the apple of Eden. “When I look back, the Garden is a dream to me. It was beautiful, surpassingly beautiful, enchantingly beautiful; and now it is lost, and I shall never see it any more. The Garden is lost, but I have found him and am content. – from Mark Twain in Eve’s Diary. True love is fair compensation for the obstacles and burdens of being human.

Only bad things happen quickly. When we think about the things that can change our lives in an instant we usually think of the negative ones first: accidents, our employer going out of business, or the news of a loved one becoming seriously ill. There is plenty of room; however, for good things to happen too, we just have to be more patient. Losing weight, improving a relationship, or creating a rewarding career all take effort, but the life-long satisfaction these bring can help to fill our souls when they are emptied-out by the bad.

Not all who wander are lost. When we were children we were told what to do. In our jobs, we are assigned tasks and projects. Our culture even has expectations of what we should do. It’s OK to step outside of the lines in order to follow what your inner wisdom is suggesting you do with your life. It’s not that you are lost when you wander, it’s just the opposite: You know what you want and you are only attempting to find the best path to your destination.

Unrequited love is painful but not romantic. Love is meant to be shared. When you give your heart to someone who is uninterested, it will only result in loneliness and disappointment. Instead find someone who will share love with you. When you do, you will feel the real power of love.

There is nothing more pointless or common, than doing the same things and expecting different results. This truth also provides a very good definition for insanity. When things are not working in your life, try different things. The rub comes when we become so comfortable with the familiar we refuse to try something new. To grow we must also embrace change. The question then becomes what level of fear you are willing to walk through in order to change, grow and create the life you want.

We flee from the truth in vain. Somewhere along the way there are truths about ourselves we never allow to see the light of day. Shame, guilt or embarrassment keeps these truths hidden and locked away. But remember, we cannot change or heal what we do not acknowledge.

It’s a poor idea to lie to oneself. We may say the words, the words of a lie, but inside we know better; we know the truth. The most damaging lie we can tell ourselves involves making a promise. While good intentions are important, living the truth has far greater value in our life. Do what you say you are going to do, not just to improve the quality of your life, but to be able to live your life with confidence and self-respect.

We are all prone to the myth of the perfect stranger. Unless you are being victimized by your partner, chances are very good there are plenty of reasons to love your partner or spouse. It takes maturity, patience and trust to look across the fence and know your grass is greener.

Love is never lost, not even in death. To lose what means the most to us is the ultimate test of helplessness and survival. I have been very fortunate to not yet experience the death of a close relative. That day, however, will come. When it does, my hope is I can transfer all of the love I have for that person to others still with me. In that way, the love for the person lost will always be alive.

Nobody likes to be told what to do. As a parent it’s easy for me to sometimes tell one of my children what to do instead of just listen and offer advice, if requested. My need to control can trump their need to be heard and grow on their own. When this happens, communication is strained and trust can be eroded. Rather than telling my children what to do, my job as a parent is to give them hope that they can be successful in a very uncertain world. This can be achieved by limiting my lectures and by giving them the time and space to “figure it out,” while I’m standing by with a safety net.

The major advantage of illness is that it provides relief from responsibility. In an ironic twist, the days we feel under the weather can be some of the healthiest for us. We push, we rush and we often don’t take time to take care of ourselves. But when we are feeling ill, we are forced to to slow down, perhaps call in sick at work, and take it easy.

We are afraid of the wrong things. For the first 18 years of my marriage I feared the wrong things. I feared not earning enough money or not advancing quickly enough in my career. I should have feared losing my wife and family instead, because I almost did. Now, I try to live in the present moment and appreciate all I have. When I do this, I stay centered with hope and not distracted by fear.

Parents have a limited ability to shape children’s behavior, except for the worse. My wife and I often hope our greatest legacy to our children is to be able to break the cycle of pain and doubt we experienced as children. Our hope is our children will have the self-love and confidence needed to live a rich and full life. With that said, we are far from being perfect parents. But our focus is to help them be as happy as possible in a world that takes and demands so much of them.

The only real paradises are those we have lost. Too often we may view the past with a special fondness, perhaps reverence, too. But the past for most of us may be no different than the present, it just feels that way. To be honest, we may not always see the past for what it actually was. This view can be dangerous and it can keep us from living fully in the present, in the here and now.

Of all the forms of courage, the ability to laugh is the most profoundly therapeutic. Yes, things can go wrong in life. Yes, there are issues and problems to solve. But we have a choice. We can choose to become pessimistic and not see the value in what we experience, or we can choose to laugh as an admission to the fact we are not perfect and life can get the best of us at times. What a relief to know that no matter how bad things may look, a smile or a rift of laughter can begin to make the circumstances feel better.

Mental health requires freedom of choice. No matter how bleak or desperate a situation may appear to look, we always have choices. Even with the absence of answers or direction, we do have the power to choose what our next action is. We can choose to ask for help; we can choose to pray; we can choose to get up in the morning, get dressed and forge ahead. The ability to choose gives us power. We can use that power to begin removing the obstacles that confront us.

Forgiveness is a form of letting go but they are not the same thing. To be clear, the purpose of forgiveness is not to let the person who harmed you off the hook, the purpose of forgiveness is to end the grief it has cost you. Don’t just let go, forgive and truly surrender the feelings of anger and pain. This may seem difficult, almost impossible, until you attempt to do it.

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10 Steps for Transforming Negative Thoughts into Positive Beliefs

by Alex Blackwell –

We have the ability to create our own reality. For the most part, we can look at a situation and see the good or we can look at the same situation and choose to see the bad. Often times the lens we use to view what’s happening is filtered by our thoughts.

“We can always choose to perceive things differently. You can focus on what’s wrong in your life or you can focus on what’s right.” –Marianne Williamson

Positive thoughts create more positive circumstances. Alternatively, negative thoughts contribute to feelings of dissatisfaction and disappointment. Therefore, changing our negative thoughts is essential to achieve happiness and peace.
The following are the most common negative thinking behaviors. Becoming aware of these is essential to transforming negative thoughts into positive beliefs.
1. Stay away from “all-or-nothing” thinking.
When we slip into “all-or-nothing” thinking we see our circumstances as either black or white with not much in between. By shifting to someplace in the gray, a fresh perspective is created that helps us to realize more options do exist.
To lead an emotionally healthy life we need to have balanced emotions. Words like: always, never, impossible, terrible and perfect, are rigid and allow little room for interpretation or flexibility. Instead, when we live somewhere in the middle then we are in a better position to find sturdier footing which will lead to improved balance.
Look for the gray in these statements:
  • I can be an intelligent person and still do something stupid.
  • I can love my wife and still be angry with her sometimes.
  • There are parts of my life I enjoy and there are parts of my life that create stress.
  • My children bring me joy and they sometimes drive me crazy.

The most important word in each sentence is and. The word and suggests a balance; it paints a shade of gray in our lives.
2. Avoid the temptation to over generalize.
Overgeneralization is best characterized when we believe if one bad thing happens, then everything else is doomed to go poorly. Think of over generalized statements as exaggerations. For example, “You never listen to me. He always interrupts me. She always thinks she’s right. Everybody thinks I’m stupid.”
The biggest overgeneralization red flags are words likenever, always, should or everybody. Understand an over generalized statement is another form of a negative thought. Re-think your words and reconsider the circumstance. Attempt to find something positive.
For example, the over generalized statement of “You never listen to me.” Can be reframed to, “There have been times in the past when you were very attentive and I felt as though you heard me. At this moment, however, I’m experiencing you as not being interested in what I have to say.” The second statement is more truthful and less exaggerated. As a result, a more positive outcome can be expected.
3. Would you rather be right or happy?
I can be very stubborn. At times my stubbornness has cost me. It has caused me to miss the opportunity to accept an apology or consider a different point-of-view. I was more determined to be right than to be happy.
The need to be right cultivates more negative thoughts because of our unwillingness to let go of whatever the issue was in the first place. To find some peace and happiness, sometimes we just need to let it go.
4. Change your mental filter.
Persistent pessimism can develop into a habit if we are not careful. Left unattended, chronic negative thinking can begin to shape the way we see the world. The glass will always be half-empty, for example.
We can begin to change our mental filter by allowing positive thoughts to sift through it too. Try to see the good in every circumstance. A long line at the grocery store is a wonderful opportunity to chat with your partner or child; a stressful time at work will give you a better chance to realize the inner strength you possess; and the world’s current economy is a great time to get back to developing and maintaining a budget for your personal expenses.
The adage, “When God hands you lemons; make lemonade,” is the perfect reminder to be aware of the mental filter we use and the importance to transform it from a negative one to something more positive.
5. Watch your tendency for jumping to conclusions.
When confronted with what might appear to be an unwelcomed circumstance, consider taking a deep breath; a full step back, to look at the event at a more holistic level in order to get all of the information.
In my house, Mary Beth and I have an expression we use with our children: “What’s the rest of the story?” When they come home with a failing grade and begin to blame the teacher, we ask, “What’s the rest of the story?”
Often times we learn there was little effort put into studying or there was missing work that contributed to the poor grade. The point is we don’t take much at face value until we seek a better understanding of really what’s happening.
Even with more serious issues, my wife and I have find by falling back to this question provides us with a better opportunity to see the whole picture. This additional information is invaluable when it comes to how we react and respond.
By asking, “What’s the rest of the story,” we are in a better position to monitor our negative thoughts and keep them from trumping what is really going on. The clarity we gain empowers us to have a more rational and positive reaction.
6. Don’t should on yourself.
When we should on ourselves we are issuing negative judgments about our actions and behaviors.
Consider the following statements: “I should be a better parent; I should be making more money, and I should be happier.”
These should statements suggest our current status is not good enough. These thoughts are negative and prevent us from seeing what is positive. Should statements put our thoughts and attitudes in a box and constrain us from seeing other solutions. Remember, it’s a matter of balance.
We can be a good parent without having to be a perfect parent; we can provide for our families, financially, and still possess the desire to earn more; and we can be happy with all we have and continue to look for ways to bring more happiness into our lives.
7. Be aware of emotional reasoning.
Not many of us are like the character Spock from Star Trek who is consistently logical and rational no matter the circumstance. Even though we often have a rational response to a difficult event, we also have a tendency to slip into emotional reasoning when confronted with an especially challenging situation.
A good example of emotional reasoning goes something like, “I feel shame therefore I must be a bad person.” On the contrary, there are many very good people who feel shame – like all of us.
Just because we are experiencing a certain uncomfortable emotion doesn’t mean our character, our soul, has been downgraded. It just means for that moment, in that small space of time, we feel a certain way about ourselves.
When we allow ourselves to be human and give our spirit the grace and mercy it deserves, we are in a better position to reframe self-limiting thoughts and keep them from manifesting to the point they begin to define who we are.
8.Try not to take everything personally.
It may be hard to hear, but not everything is about you and not everything is about me, either. Fear, paranoia and perhaps a measure of insecurity can lead us to believe the way other people react, or the things they say, are directed to us. Sometimes people are insensitive, judgmental or just plain in a bad mood.
One of my biggest challenges is when a person makes a negative comment about one of my projects, is to keep my temptation in check and not internalize the comment. What I often hear is I’m not good or effective – not the project.
What I hear is also rooted in old, negative tapes playing my head. My task, then, is to replace these old tapes with newer, more positive ones that suggests I’m capable, well-meaning and successful regardless of what someone might say.
9. Dial back from magnifying a problem.
There is perception and then there is reality. Our negative thoughts start to churn when we confuse the two. Seeing a situation for what it really is, instead of what it feels like can help us stay grounded. Magnifying a problem only gives the problem more energy and provides the opportunity for the situation to become larger than it was ever intended to be.
My wife and I have been challenged by some of the recent decisions our younger son has made. While Andrew is a moral and well-intentioned young man, like any 17-year-old, he has been making some questionable choices. Rather than assuming our son is heading down an irreversible path, our approach has been to increase our communication with him and offer a dose of empathy and support as well as some needed direction.
The results have been productive – especially for Andrew. Mary Beth and I elected to focus on the positive aspects of our son. We addressed the problem with the intensity it deserved and did not allow our anger or fear to guide us.
Not that we do everything right with our children (trust me, we have made plenty of mistakes), but in this situation we made the conscious decision to deal with the facts and not allow our negative thoughts or emotions to get in the way.
10. Celebrate.
Celebrate the good things when they happen. Don’t simply dismiss them or minimize them.There is no question some days have a few setbacks, a couple of obstacles and sometimes pain. There are even some days when we feel as though someone has emptied our hearts of the passion and strength we need for life. So, on the days we are blessed and have positive things happen, no matter how small and insignificant they may seem, allow yourself the time to enjoy them and then be filled back up by them.

Like attracts like. Positive thoughts and happiness create more of the same.

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12 Improvements That Make a Difference

by Alex Blackwell –

We may not solve every problem we encounter or always find the right words to say in a challenging situation but we do have the ability to make a difference today. When our focus is how we can make a positive impact, just one helpful action today, then we really can change the world – one day at a time.

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”

–Anne Frank

Making a difference has no scale. It could be saying the encouraging words someone in our life needs to hear or it could be agreeing to do a chore no else wants to do. Making a difference means to provide whatever resources we have to improve every life we touch.
These improvements can be measured in buckets or they can be measured in teaspoons. The point isn’t really to measure them at all, only to provide them. When we do, we can make a difference today.

12 IMPROVEMENTS THAT MAKE A DIFFERENCE

  • Say “Thank you.” Say “Thank you,” to anyone who has helped you or has made your day easier. This will show respect and acknowledge the efforts of others. Appreciation will be returned to you in abundance.
  • Perform one act of random kindness. Hold the elevator door open for someone who is a few steps behind you or lift the bag and place it in the overhead bin on the airplane for someone who is struggling with this task. Kindness creates more kindness for everybody to receive.
  • Listen. Listen, really listen to someone. Listen without judgments or criticism. Try to avoid any self-referencing and be fully present for whoever needs it and for as long as they need it.
  • Focus. Focus on one thing at a time. We can’t be all things to all people, and when we try, we sometimes find our effort becomes diluted and less effective.
  • Say “No” more often. This may sound counterproductive, but it’s all about setting realistic boundaries for yourself. Show honor for your personal beliefs and convictions by not compromising who you are. Save your energy for the people and tasks that are the most important to you .
  • Say, “I love you.” Say “I love you” to the people who you truly love and cherish. Do so with heart-felt sincerity. Love them as if this were their, and your, last day on earth. Don’t wait. Tell them today because tomorrow may be too late.
  • Find your cause. You may have passion for animal rights, Gay rights, or human rights. Recycling, education or helping others with addictions may be examples of other causes for which you have energy. Here’s a list of other causes that will help you make a difference today.
  • Be an encourager. One gesture of encouragement with a nod of your head or the motion of your hand can be the difference maker between someone having doubt or actually accomplishing the goal. Your encouraging actions can make a life-long impression.
  • Think before you act. Choose your words carefully before speaking. Consider your actions before taking a certain path. Although unintentional, our words can sting and our actions can cause pain if we are unaware of their potential impact on others. Sometimes the best way we can make a difference is to say nothing or do nothing until we have enough information to act in a responsible and positive way.
  • Show patience. We learn by doing and often we learn best from our mistakes. Show patience for others and allow them to make a few mistakes – even if you know a mistake is inevitable. Also, show patience for the slow-moving check-out clerk the grocery store or the person in the meeting who is just not engaged or is not grasping the concept being discussed. The art of patience is really the gift of grace and compassion. We are not able to receive grace when we refuse to extend it to others.
  • Take care of the things you have. We never know which of our resources we will be called upon to share. Keep a budget, maintain your car with regular oil changes and the like, and care for your clothes and other personal belongings. There may come a day when these items can make a difference in the life of another.
  • Set an example.  Gandhi taught us to Be the change we want to see in the world. This means our actions do set an example for others. I attempt to set an example of being a nurturing and responsible parent for my children; I try to let Mary Beth know I want her to have a life that is uniquely her own; and I try to share my experiences and thoughts in a way that will touch the hearts of others.The opportunities to set an example occur all the time. They happen in how we react, in what we say and in how we live. If we do nothing else to make a difference today, at least we can say our actions created the opportunity for someone to see something good inside of themselves, too.

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