Surrender Your Hate and Anger and Free Yourself to Grow
Surrender is often a critical step in a successful personal growth plan.
When we meet Rudy he is in a position, both physically and emotionally, that he’d not experienced before. On his hands and knees, he’s crying, sobbing and moaning almost hysterically, and emotionally throwing in the towel. He is totally defeated, out of control and unable to help himself. Rudy has always prided himself on his self sufficiency. He knows how to cook, make a bed, iron a shirt, grow vegetables, purify water, start a fire with a piece of flint and hunt and fish for food. He has assured his wife Joan that in the event of nuclear holocaust they would survive just fine on his wits and the remote little piece of land they called home. But today he met a wall he could not climb.
When Rudy’s father agreed to finance the restaurant Rudy handled all the details. He met with the franchisor, developed and implemented the business plan, located the building and even got his hands dirty doing a significant portion of the remodeling himself. He dreamed of the success of the restaurant and its eventual expansion into several stores and he envisioned the benefits that would come with his success. He would finally be proud of his accomplishments, his friends would admire and even envy him and he’d have more money than he ever imagined. Harleys, Rolex watches, cars, vacations in exotic places– life would finally be great. But Rudy also had a little secret.
Rudy had no desire to be a restaurateur.
The world of business held no attraction despite evidence to the contrary. Like millions of other lemmings on this planet he had stifled his inner urges and followed a course that seemed prescribed. As a teenager he developed an interest in music and taught himself how to play the guitar. In college he discovered photography and discovered a penchant for and interest in writing. He took courses in radio and TV production and excelled, unlike the business courses he often dropped in order to avoid flunking. By the time he was in his early twenties Rudy knew that his destiny had nothing to do with business; nevertheless, in 1975 he quit his minimum wage job as a “gopher” at a commercial photography studio and took a job as a salesman.
While doing his prep work at the restaurant that morning Rudy’s thoughts focused on an inevitability he did not want to face–he was going to have to tell his father that the business was failing. He thought of the embarrassment he would suffer. He thought of having to tell his employees that they were losing their jobs. He thought of having to go out and find a job for himself, no longer the big shot, just another clock–puncher padding the coffers of some uncaring corporation or covetous boss. He thought about sitting in front of his father and telling him, “I failed. All the money you invested is lost. All the faith you put in me was wasted. You provided me with yet another opportunity and like before, I blew it.” But mostly he thought about the treasonous act he had committed upon himself. He reasoned that none of this would have happened if he’d only had the courage to follow his inner voice. That’s when Rudy surrendered.
The term surrender is rife with negative connotations.
It implies quitting and defeat, weakness and failure. It conjures up images of a once proud Robert E. Lee handing his sword to a cigar–smoking Ulysses Grant while his battered troops limp down dirt roads to ravaged homes and broken families. Adolph Hitler, unable to face the humiliation of surrender, took his own life.
But surrender is often a positive thing.
A prize fighter’s manager throws the towel into the ring the senseless beating ceases. A general hands his sword to his enemy and the killing is over. And when the madness stops the healing can begin. Japan’s General Hirohito abdicated to the US’s General MacArthur on the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Missouri and not another atomic bomb has been used in war since. When Hirohito said “I quit”, the lives of millions of American and Japanese boys were spared. The healing of Japan began and today the United States’ former enemy is one of its closest allies and an economic world power. When Rudy called for his mother he was saying to himself, “I am powerless to correct this situation. I need help and I am at the mercy of whoever comes to my aid.” This is “unconditional” surrender; in other words, the vanquished says to the vanquisher, “You can plunder our land, abuse our women, steal our treasures and enslave us all. As horrible as that would be, it is better than what is happening to us now.” Fortunately, Rudy’s rescuer was a benevolent one.
Surrender resolves conflict.
That conflict could be as simple as indulging your urge to eat a bowl of ice cream or as complex as bringing an end to war between nations. It will almost always extract as its fee personal loss. But the capitulating entity is willing to suffer that loss because he sees the pain of this loss as being less painful than the alternative.
When I surrender my self discipline and eat the ice cream my self esteem takes a hit, and that is emotionally painful. But that pain of self betrayal is overridden by the anticipation of the pleasure I’ll experience as the smooth, creamy spoonful of icy chocolate ignites my taste buds and slithers down my throat.
When I surrender my nation I suffer the pain of defeat, embarrassment, perhaps even humiliation on a grand scale. But I do so with the anticipation of a return to peace and prosperity in the future. When I surrender I roll the dice that whatever the future holds it is better than my present situation.
What unresolved conflicts are you allowing in your life?
Are you fighting meaningless battles that are filling your mind with hate, envy, guilt and preventing you from moving forward toward your goals and dreams? Rudy would have answered ‘yes’ to all those questions that morning he made his unconditional surrender. But what did he give up? And to whom? Who was his ‘benevolent rescuer’? Certainly he was defeated in some sense, but how is it possible for a single human being alone on the floor to lay down his sword and expect someone to accept his terms and alleviate his suffering? For answers to these questions check out the chapter on ego.