How To Know If You're Surrendering Or Giving Up (And Why It Matters)

How To Know If You're Surrendering Or Giving Up (And Why It Matters) Hero Image
Photo: Brooke Cagle

Occasionally we do need to walk away from a relationship, a career, a dream, or a geographical location forever. I often see this with clients in my practice as an intuitive, but more often than not, life asks us to surrender and put temporary space between ourselves and a person, situation, or goal. Surrender brings peace; leaves the door open for hope, change, and new perspectives; and actually helps usher abundance into our lives. Consider the following distinctions when you are questioning whether to give up or surrender:

How to know if you're surrendering or giving up.

Surrender feels peaceful and is often accompanied by a sense of relief, and giving up feels hopeless and like a defeat.

When you throw up your hands in frustration with a creative project and throw away all your materials, it can leave you feeling dark, empty, or self-shaming. Surrendering might look like walking away from the project for a day, week, month—or even a whole year. Taking a break is always a relief. After you’ve given the project breathing room, you might look over your notes and know exactly how to proceed. Even if you do walk away from the project forever, surrender feels much less like failure and allows you to walk away gradually to better process the experience and your emotions.

Most things in life exist in a gray area.
 

Surrender feels moderate or balanced, and giving up feels extreme or intense.

Giving up feels intense and extreme because it is a black-and-white solution. Sometimes you’ve outgrown a person or situation, or the person or situation has become so toxic that you have to walk away forever. But most things in life exist in a gray area. If you have a friend or family member who has addiction issues but is not in recovery, you might surrender by distancing yourself from them while leaving the door open to change and hope. It’s amazing how dramatically people and situations can evolve with time.

Surrender is an intellectual decision made over time after careful consideration, and giving up is often fueled by a strong emotional reaction.

Have you ever said something very cutting to a person you cared about in the heat of the moment and later regretted the comment? It’s best to wait until our emotions feel neutral before deciding whether to give up forever or temporarily surrender. If you have been questioning a relationship in your life, take a few weeks to mull the situation over calmly before taking action. I find with my clients that this gives the universe enough time to present people with helpful synchronicities that will inform their decision.

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Sometimes it is only when we surrender to the fact that we might not get something that it actually floats into our lives.
 

Surrendering is stepping to the side so the universe can work its magic, and giving up says, "I don’t believe in magic and miracles!"

If there is a situation in your life in which you feel really stuck, the change you’re seeking might come only after surrendering. Sometimes it is only when we surrender to the fact that we might not get something that it actually floats into our lives. And if you don’t get what you want, surrendering allows room for something else, something wonderful, to enter in place of what you originally desired.

Surrender is acknowledging that you have limited power over a person or situation, and giving up could be a desperate attempt to exert power and protect your heart.

Most humans like action and don’t necessarily like to wait and be patient. So forcing a conclusion, like giving up, feels temporarily satisfying—but in the long run it can feel like a hollow victory. Giving up on dreams that have been dear to our hearts for a very long time is devastating. It may seem like a way to protect our hearts, but more often than not it leaves us feeling exhausted. Surrendering is an acknowledgment that we have limited power, which can encourage us to use our free will and power in more productive ways.

You may not need a new dream, just a new way of seeking it.
 

Surrender is admitting that you might not have all the answers and there could be another way, and giving up shuts down new possibilities.

One way to approach surrender is to say, "Let’s look at this from a new angle." It may not be the object of your desire you need to give up, but the way you have gone about trying to acquire it. Surrendering always involves putting something on the back burner so you can re-evaluate not only your dreams but also your methods. You may not need a new dream, just a new way of seeking it.

Surrender invites the universe to bring grace, new people, and new opportunities into your life, and giving up can block some of the flow of new things into your life.

When you give up on something, it’s like turning off a water faucet. You are telling yourself and the universe that you are no longer interested. It’s a powerful act of free will. But remember, if you give up on something you can always change your mind. I tell my clients that the universe gives us as many second chances as we need. The relaxed, flexible attitude of surrender encourages the universe to bring fresh opportunities, grace, and new people into your life.

Surrender involves continuing to take action steps when appropriate, while giving up means shifting all your energy elsewhere.

If a couple had been trying to conceive naturally for years and then spent thousands of dollars on fertility treatments with no success, they might surrender their hope for conceiving a child. Surrendering could look like researching adoption options while continuing to do the "baby dance," as they call it on the mommy chat boards.

Surrendering shows you are open to this being merely a timing issue, and giving up says, "It’s now or never."

Maybe you really want to own a home, apartment, or other piece of real estate. But for two years you have not been able to come up with a down payment or you’ve been looking but just cannot find an appropriate place. Giving up on the dream forever can make you feel like a victim, which is very depressing and disempowering. Surrender says you are open to the fact that you will own a home someday but that things aren’t coming together just yet. Wait for divine timing, which often brings "perfect" opportunities that exceed our wildest dreams.

Want to learn more about the art of surrender? Check out this piece on how to conduct a surrender manifestation.


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