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From Fear to Surrender & Trust: What Transformation Feels Like

It's about more than your mind.


The human brain is brilliant at talking itself into fear that may surface in the form of anxiety, anger, stress, sadness, discontent, or any variation of emotional upheaval. While our minds are also capable of talking themselves into peace, love, trust, joy and connectedness, fear is more often the default. Why? Our egos are hardwired to protect us from anything that negatively triggers us. 

We can read countless self-help books to remind ourselves that our ego isn’t who we truly are, and we can understand that our true self is the self recognizing the ego for what it is—a range of defense mechanisms that prides itself on separateness. But given the mind’s ego-driven programming, which generally speaks first, sometimes we need to lean on something bigger than our brains—like our bodies,  our spirits and love (aka the Universe, God, Source, or whatever spiritual entity that resonates with you). 

Listen to your body, and be guided by your spirit. 

This is the equation to freedom. Our egos may speak first, but love always answers.  

A few years ago, when I was going through a bout of depression and lacking direction, I worked with a wonderful life coach named Anna Goldstein, who was constantly telling me how powerful I am. 

“Of course you ‘think’ that,” I’d say. “You’re my life coach. I’m paying you to get me to believe that.” 

“Melissa, your power lies in your self-awareness. Do you think you’re aware?” she asked. 

“Yes,” I replied. “But I’m obviously not applying this awareness, otherwise I wouldn’t keep making the same mistakes. How do I get there?” 

“You need to let yourself feel into it. Feel into the fear, and feel into what you want to experience instead. Get out of your head and into your body.” 

A few weeks later when I was at the gym blowdrying my hair after a workout, her words hit me like an atomic bomb. I suddenly realized that while mentally processing why fear would arise in my system, this understanding wasn’t enough for me to make any lasting change. I needed to feel the opposite of fear—surrender and trust—in my body.  

For the past six months, I’ve been journaling about the physical and internal sensations I feel when I give my fears and so-called problems to the Universe—when I stop trying to handle everything on my own. Through this process, I’ve discovered that none of us are alone, and even if we know that in our minds, feeling it in our bodies is what leads to real transformation. 

Before we get into the opposite of fear—love, surrender and trust—let’s dive into fear. 

What does fear feel like? 

The common theme I see in myself and others when we’re operating from fear, whether it’s showing up in the form of stress, anger or sadness, is that we’re overdoing something. We’re overanalyzing a conversation we had with a loved one. We’re overcompensating at work or in a relationship. We’re overexerting ourselves in a new project. We’re overreacting to something someone said. We are in a state of panic, and we are trapped. 

In these moments, we’re often stuck in the past or worried about the future. For anyone who worries, you know that worrying is essentially the same experience as being stuck. 

It’s times like these that we’re enmeshed in the illusions that are born of fear and pain like ‘I’m not good enough. I’m too much. And I’m alone.’ We’re fighting against our connection to all that’s beautiful and right in the world. We’re not breathing; we’re holding our breath and swimming upstream.

When we live in fear we live in constant struggle, fastened to darkness and moving backwards. 

What does surrender feel like? 

Surrender feels like the complete opposite. When we consciously surrender, we flow like a river. Nothing can deter us because when we become like water, we’re able to seamlessly part for all obstacles, yet carve the greatest canyons. (Thank you for that legendary quote, AV Flox.) 

Surrender feels like a suspended release and peace that comes with a long overdue exhale. Surrender feels good. It’s the realization in our minds, bodies, and spirits that as Louise Hay famously said, “all is well.” 

Rather than write about the sensation of love, I’m focusing on surrender and trust, as they are the energies that connect us to all that is loving. In other words, they are both acts of love. 

Like love, the consciousness that comes with surrender is light, abundant and continuous. In surrender, we feel free to fall because we’re flowing. We are constantly moving forward. We’re clearing out the over-efforting and false narratives that are perpetuated by fear. And now that those stories have faded, we’re able to understand what it means to really listen. 

I once heard Tony Robbins say what has become one of my favorite quotes. 

 What’s wrong is always available, but so is what’s right.

To me this means fear is always available to us, but so is surrender. 

This definition of surrender is not to be confused with the surrender that suggests we should give up because all hope is lost. The surrender I’m spotlighting is one of hope and faith. It’s an embracement of self-love, autonomy and oneness.  

Once you start surrendering moment to moment, you’ll never want to stop. And over time, when the physical sensation of surrender is felt deeply within you, you’ll no longer need to rely solely on your mind to get you there. Your body and spirit will lead you.  

What does trust feel like? 

Like surrender, trust feels good. Again everyone is different, but most people I’ve discussed trust with describe the feeling as a pillar of strength—a solid foundation unmoved by anything. 

Wow, even writing the words describing trust feels grounding. 

Surrender is the pathway to trust, and trust allows us to surrender more. The two are symbiotic in the most poetic way. 

In the western world, society has conditioned us to focus on whether or not a person is trustworthy, and to look outside ourselves for affirmation that we’re on the right path. While trustworthiness is an important trait in individuals, I would argue that it’s more efficient for us to build trust in ourselves, in our instincts, and in Source.

In doing this, we create a window for new opportunities to come to us. When we trust, we have clarity. Internally, we’ve building the infrastructure for a new way to operate. We’re laying down the groundwork for a tower of trust so tall and strong that fear and self-doubt don’t dare come near, for they know they’re no match. 

How miraculous is it that when we exercise trust we have a firm shoulder to lean on? 

Trust is always available to us and is the cornerstone of love just like surrender. When fear sends our brains into overdrive, we can tune into our energy and choose to have a different experience. 

There’s a saying that used to scare me that goes something like this. 

The good thing is it’s all in you head. The problem is it’s all in your head.

But ever since I started journaling and meditating on how surrender and trust feel in my body, I know there’s always a way to get out of my mind and ego and into my true self—the self that is aware, powerful, and continually seeking transformation. 


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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

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