Control and Surrender in the Art of Love


People love to be in control, it makes them feel safe and secure. Very few are attracted to what may be perceived as its opposite—being out of control. Out of control can be scary, frustrating, even terrifying and so people expend much time and energy trying to keep themselves, each other and their environment under control. They develop many strategies, from the subtle to the overt to help feel they are in command, for example, keeping belongings and furnishings in precise order, maintaining strict schedules for waking, sleeping and eating, making love in the one right place at the one right time in the one right position, or insisting on trying to win an argument whether their point is valid or not. Control can also be a subtle dance of manipulation appearing in the guise of helpless need, or alternatively, as solicitous concern for others—making certain everything runs smoothly and all are happy; taking responsibility for everyone’s well-being, so that ultimately everything is under control.

We see the opposite of control not as out of control, but rather as surrender or letting go. Being in control is simply an illusion; when it comes right down to it, no-one has absolute control over anything. You do however have a choice—you can choose to try and make things happen precisely as you want them to (and get frustrated when they do not turn out that way), or you can let go, surrendering to the ebb and flow of life.


Surrender is essential for creating love and for spiritual union. Perhaps you are afraid of surrender because you equate surrender with submission, but the two are very different. Submission exists in the context of power in relationships; it implies domination. Someone submits when they are overpowered or overwhelmed, but surrender is not submission, nor is it passivity, losing, or being inferior. Surrender is an active process of conscious, courageous choice, because although you are not submitting you do have to give something up. Your ego knows and fears this. Your ego likes things as they are. If some change is required, it wants to take credit—to feel the pride of accomplishment and success, but in the spiritual quest, you give up this self-importance. You give up the claim “I did it on my own my way.”

The fear of surrendering can be so strong that you may feel as if you will be diminished, even annihilated—you will disappear. The actuality is very different. Instead of diminishing you, surrender makes you bigger, expanding and connecting you to something so much greater than your ego could ever have imagined.

If surrender is not giving up, giving in or being dominated, what is it? It is:

  • Trusting that there is a larger life process which you are part of and can be in alignment with.
  • Showing vulnerability, admitting when you do not know what to do and when you feel fear and insecurity.
  • Making choices and taking risks—acting in spite of your fear and insecurity.
  • Letting go of attachment to the results of your choices.
  • Suspending judgment when things do not go the way you want them to.
  • Being open to surprises—allowing that there may be more possibilities than you thought or could have imagined, and that these may be better, not worse, than what you wanted.

As you begin to explore the meaning of surrender, in terms of actual behavior, you will come to a critical distinction. On the one hand, there are those things in your life that you do make happen, that you take from life, or that you achieve with will power and as the result of acquired talent. There are others that come to you as gifts from out of the mystery, the Universe, or from God, wonderful surprises, beyond anything you could have imagined, better than you could have planned or even hoped for.