This sentence sums up my approach to goal-setting:
I will make it happen.
This sentence sums up my approach to problem-solving:
I will fix it.
I have a long track record of getting shit done. If I’m all in, I am all the way in – until the very end. This is something people often tell me they admire about me. And sure, on the surface, that tenacious love of completion is a major asset. But for most of my life, underneath the Herculean surge toward the finish line has been the hypnotic belief that this brute force model of accomplishment is what true success looked like.
And when you add in the extra layer of being an ambitious woman in a patriarchal world, I thought for sure, this was the only way to hit it big.
Hit a wall? Knock that sucker down.
Not getting the support you need? Don’t waste your time with silly ‘support’ conversations – we all know it’ll get done faster (and to a higher standard) if you do it yourself.
The Epidemic of The Do-It-Aller.
After rolling around in that muck for most of my life, I finally got wise to the neurosis there, and wrote this. And for a while, my head and heart were clear on the matter.
But like most patterns of bullshit thinking, the years that it took to etch those “Strong people do it on their own” tracks onto my psyche would not be undone with just one particularly righteous blog post.
And so I found myself, watching the sun rise one winter morning, realizing that I had done it again. I had twisted myself into the belief that I can (and should) do it all. In my personal relationships, at work, even in my creative expression, my life had become a series of rigid boxes and barricades.
And this isn’t unique to me. I bet you know the taste of it, too. In most societies, women are, by definition, expected to be the do-it-allers. We gush over the women who power forward through every obstacle and ACHIEVE in their personal and professional lives. We celebrate the do-it-aller, constantly.
And while celebrating women is high on my list of priorities, I think we’re in denial about the potential harmfulness of this understated expectation.
My second wave of clarity around the Do-it-Aller Syndrome arrived because of a book. Outrageous Openness: Letting the Divine Take the Lead by Tosha Silver.
If I were to expand Tosha’s sub-title, I’d change it to:
(Wo)manhandling your future is not going to work, sweetheart. Let go and let God.
In principle, this sounds so lovely, doesn’t it?
In practice, shit is hard.
Especially for the you-can-do-it-all-and-SUCCEED types, like me. Because letting the Divine lead requires surrender. It requires that we fall deeper into our feminine receptivity and allow our lives to unfold, instead of contorting and twisting so that we can MAKE our lives happen.
What would it take for you to allow the Divine to guide your life, instead of single-handedly trying to MAKE your life?
This is not about passivity or even, laziness. This is about trusting the intelligence of the Universe, instead of relying exclusively on the tiny brain in your own head.
This kind of surrender requires the deepest, truest kind of faith.
It is the faith that even though you have made some questionable choices and you’ve hurt people and people have hurt you, you are still loved. You are protected. You are safe. You are well.
Even with all the goals you have yet to hit, all the things you have failed at, and all the things you’ve never even tried, you are still loved.
Believing you are loved (just the way you are, right at this very moment) is the same thing as faith in the Holy.
Tosha’s book is full of stories and thoughtful prayers that I hope will inspire and encourage you to take even just one itty bitty step towards some of that surrender.
When I surrendered to the Divine, I saw that I needed to let go of some goals. Goals like Sacred, the conference I was planning.
When I surrendered to the Divine, I saw that I had been pushing away some places and people I actually needed to draw close.
When I surrendered to the Divine, what felt like hollow spaces in my life became ripe with possibility. (Side note: In case you were wondering, Possibility has full, pink lips and strong arms. Yes, I checked.)
So why should you surrender?
I’m not shoulding anybody, but in my experience:
Surrendering to the Divine (or whatever term you prefer), and putting down the burden of trying to do it all on your own, feels damn good. Sweet soul relief.
And then, on the other side of Surrender is Ease. On the other side of Letting Go is Receiving. On the other side of Trust is Love Like You’ve Never Known Before.
Tosha’s words helped me see the places in my life where I was pushing and forcing and striving. The places where I was making it HARD, instead of the Softness I craved.
I saw all the ways I was paying lip service to faith and Divine Guidance, but in actuality, I was not allowing myself to be guided by my faith at all. I was all push-push-push. My head was down, focused on powering towards the goal or the guy or the project, instead of head up, eyes open, ears perked.
Trusting Life is on your side isn’t a one-time purchase. Sacred surrender requires regular installments.
This is a daily (minutely?) choice you have to return to, again and again. At some point, you’ll probably fall off your own track. Even the most pious among us forget to take our spiritual vitamins on some days. But when you fall, don’t let the falling define you. Define yourself by choosing to get back on the ride. Define yourself by choosing to see the Divine as your Waymaker, instead of your wish-granting genie.
And if this ‘Trusting the Divine’ thing feels way out of reach right now, try this prayer:
I want to have total faith in You.
I want to believe that I don’t have to worry so much, because You’re taking care of me.
I want to believe that a perfect solution for every “problem” already exists.
I want to surrender to receiving those solutions, in perfect timing and form.
I want to be guided to the right actions to take, and also guided to knowing when I need to sit back and do absolutely nothing but trust in You.
Truth be told though, these things feel kinda tricky for me right now, but this is who I want to be. This is how I want to live. This is the sacred path I want to walk. So help a sister out, wouldja?