As a therapist, I’m often asked about happiness, well-being and how to find a sense of inner peace (or if it’s even possible ;)). As a Buddhist psychotherapist, my answer is usually along the lines of “let it be”.
But what does this really mean? To just “let go”, let it be, accept things as they are? People often believe that acceptance – or a general attitude of surrender – implies passivity and defeat…that if I accept the circumstances of my life (/depression/marital problems/insert “distress” here), then I am condoning that reality.
The truth is actually the opposite. When we stop resisting reality, and cease fighting against whatever is present, we can relax into our lives. We find room to breathe and move and possibly even change (assuming there are aspects of the reality that are within our control to change). When we surrender, we no longer waste time and energy in the fruitless fight to control life, an effort stemming from a place of fear. Rather, we can act from a place of love, focusing our energy in ways that are productive and creative.
I once read an article in which the author wrote about the energy of surrender vs. the energy of control. A self-proclaimed “recovering control freak”, she shared that her experience of the energy of control is like being in a canoe and paddling upstream, going against the current. When she recognizes she’s in “control mode”, she’ll envision herself in this canoe and in her mind’s eye, turn the canoe around and float peacefully downstream, flowing with the effortless energy of surrender.
Inner peace is not about external circumstances – it’s not about having all of our ducks in a row, or achieving the exact outcomes we want. Life is largely out of our control, and if we attach our sense of inner peace to outer factors that we have no say over, then we are greatly disempowering ourselves. What a disservice to outsource our most precious sense of well-being!
So we learn to find inner peace no matter the external circumstances. Rather than being blown about like a twig in the wind, swaying in whatever direction the wind blows, we can stay firmly rooted, grounded in our sense of peace and contentment. By letting it be, letting go, acknowledging that “this too shall pass”, we learn how to move and shift and gracefully flow with the ever-changing tides of life, not against them.