The Power of Surrender: Let Go and Energize Your Relationships, Success, and Well-Being

The Power of Surrender: Let Go and Energize Your Relationships, Success, and Well-Being

by Judith Orloff M.D.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780451495310
Publisher: Potter/Ten Speed/Harmony/Rodale
Publication date: 10/06/2015
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 432
Sales rank: 463,997
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

JUDITH ORLOFF, M.D., assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at UCLA, has helped patients practice the art of surrender to achieve emotional freedom for more than two decades. She is the author of the New York Times bestseller Emotional Freedom and the bestsellers Positive EnergyJudith Orloff’s Guide to Intuitive Healing, and Second Sight. She has appeared on The Dr. Oz Show, the Today show, PBS, CNN, and NPR, and her TED talk debut of this book has over a half million views on YouTube. Find more information and inspiration at

Read an Excerpt




Be willing to surrender what you are for what you could become.


Are you longing for your life to be easier and more effortless? Would you like to stop pushing, micromanaging, and forcing things so you can relax? What if you could enjoy what you have instead of always lusting for more? What if you could live in “the zone,” propelled by powerful currents toward the right people and opportunities? What if you could stop worrying about money? Let me take you to the magical place where the river flows. Something good is coming. Prepare to experience the ecstasy of surrender.

This chapter is a love letter to the powers of intention, intuition, and staying close to your essence in practical ways with practical real-world results. It’s the perfect platform from which to make things happen in your life, from work to love to finances, and excel without ever losing a sense of soul. Here I present a new step-by-step model of how to achieve true success and power with more ease and contentment. My approach is twofold: it’s about devising action plans, creating a positive mind-set, being a smart communicator, and using the grit of determination, but without trying so hard that you burn out and sabotage yourself. As part of this, you’ll keep releasing fear, a virus of the mind that will spread to many areas and restrict your success unless you courageously transform it. My approach also involves surrendering to the mysterious, tender forces of goodness larger than even your will to succeed. Allowing yourself to be guided by them makes the difference between feeling frustrated that success is “taking too long” and being carried on wings by a great wind toward your destiny. Then, with these combined tactics, which may seem antithetical but aren’t, nothing can stop incredible experiences from coming your way.

Both as a physician and in a very intimate sense, I’ve seen that our attitudes about success and power can make or break our ability to surrender to flow on all levels. Why? What you and I believe—that success comes from integrity versus winning at any cost, from trusting your gut rather than succumbing to public opinion, from compassionate communication versus revenge, arrogance, or resentment—determines how we get along with ourselves and others.

Like many of us, I lead a busy life. I want to accomplish a lot. That’s why surrender is so important to me. I’m tenacious in pursuing my goals, but I don’t want to clog the flow of success by micromanaging or inserting my will into places where grace belongs. I feel successful when goals are progressing or at least when I know I’ve given them my all. I’ve come to appreciate that surrender is never about being perfect. It’s about doing your best and remaining authentic. Being perfect is impossible. It’s just a futile attempt to control what can’t be controlled. As a recovering workaholic, admittedly I still have a lot I want to achieve in my life, from writing to helping patients to teaching. There are also practical, noble daily successes, from working out to paying bills to making a dent in my to‑do list of chores. I take pride in my accomplishments, large and small, no matter how mundane. I also realize that success doesn’t have to involve many goals—what matters is the clarity and heart we bring to a task.

However, for me, success can never be about just what I “do.” It’s also when I can laugh, love, and really surrender to feeling happy about the tiniest things. It’s reveling in winter thunderstorms, warm fires, night-blooming jasmine, and shooting stars. It’s having a peaceful mind and some blessed downtime rather than knotting myself in frustration, especially when things fall apart. I don’t always succeed at this, but I am learning. If we can’t find even an inkling of happiness inside, on both steep and easy paths, we won’t be able to enjoy the aspect of success that I’m suggesting, which is independent of accomplishments. But this enjoyment is possible, and I’ll show you how to get there.

I’m a stickler about using time well. Life is precious. It goes by fast. Your time is the most valuable gift you can give to a goal or to a person. Thus, I intend to worship every moment and seek happiness wherever I go. Whether I’m presenting a keynote address or waiting in line in the post office, it’s in the doing that the ecstasy comes. My advice is to call off your search for happiness. As Willa Cather writes, “What if Life itself were the sweetheart?” Happiness is here, now, present in every moment, if you allow it. Don’t miss that gift. I even try to be happy when I’m miserable (it’s possible to feel both at once!) by remembering the treasure of simply being alive. You can make happiness what you want it to be. Surrendering to what is, instead of bearing down or freaking out, is a fundamental secret to being happy that I want to share with you.

Mastering the Art of Effortlessness

Though surrender is typically considered counterintuitive to success—it’s wrongly associated with weakness and defeat—I am here to tell you that it can make you more powerful. Surrender lets you turn away from old ways of doing things so that you can regroup and grow stronger. In both your career and your relationships, it can benefit you when done at the right time and in the right way. Otherwise you can jinx success by over-efforting and being too intense. For grace to enter your life, you must make room for forces beyond your control.

Recently I gave a talk about how surrender furthers success at a TEDx (Technology, Energy, Design) conference for three hundred movers and shakers in business and health care. Following my talk I was honored to be interviewed by a group of middle school student journalists reporting on the conference. They asked me, “How is surrender helpful for kids and teenagers?” My response: “If you’re lucky enough to learn how to surrender fear and worry early on, you’ll be much more successful. Many kids are full of anxiety and feel pressured on all sides by assumptions and assignments from parents and teachers. You don’t want to worry your way through school. Nor do you want to succumb to all the pressure. You’re at a perfect age to practice surrendering stress and unrealistic expectations so you can be more open, relaxed, and able to enjoy the incredible life that is ahead of you.” By their smiles I could see they liked that answer. It made sense to them.

Surrender opens you to states of grace where blessings of success are bestowed. You can’t will grace to appear in your life, but you can invite and welcome it in with a more surrendered outlook. Let the information I’m presenting about the proper role of taking action versus surrendering control enable you to excel in all areas. Striking this balance while also allowing grace to do its work lets you experience the art of effortlessness. In one sense, this entire book is about power: how to claim it, how to use it with both heart and intelligence, and how it can be misused or corrupted. And that’s why we begin here.

In this chapter, you’ll learn to reevaluate success and power in terms of what really matters, a value system that will last a lifetime. This takes courage and a willingness to radically question the status quo. Once you’ve identified affirming, durable beliefs about these topics, you’ll have something priceless to keep surrendering to as you melt rigid, frigid, and fearful places within. What a relief it will be to dissolve all of that pent‑up tension. This ongoing process is about purification and awakening as well as saving ourselves and our wild, precious world.

Surrendering to a New Paradigm: The Dance Between Destiny and Will

A mogul who rises to the top by hurting people has a crippled heart and is an abuser, not a success, no one to admire. True success isn’t using power just for power’s sake to pump you or your profits up. It is never causing intentional harm for personal gain, no matter how much money or status you accumulate. I love that Google’s intention statement as a small start‑up company was “Don’t be evil,” an admirable code of conduct that urges all its employees to act honorably and treat others with respect. We all know that the saying “Nice guys finish last” equates niceness with weakness. For me, the factor that decides whether you finish first or last isn’t about “being nice.” It’s about finding a smarter model for success where you’re able to be nice but also know how to mindfully use power to reach your goal.

We need a new conversation around what it means to be successful and powerful, to dispel dysfunctional stereotypes that keep us from soaring. We must break the rules of our psychotically materialistic society to find a more heartful way to live that yields concrete, everyday gains. We must reject the cult of greed, which equates success with people who make an excess of money, whatever the tactics, and tells us that we have to become tightwads or fear-based about finances to feel safe in an unsafe world.

I’ve consistently seen with patients and in myself that resisting or stiffening during challenging times only increases stress and saps power, creating what I call a bunker mentality. Everything becomes about defense, worry, and fear, not love. Similarly, people get more severely injured in accidents when they tense up. If you fight pain or adversity, the spasm of discomfort tightens. But when you relax, suffering lessens. This applies just as much to daily life. One patient got so uptight about money in the bad economy, she alienated her only daughter by refusing to help pay for her modest wedding on Santa Monica beach, though she could’ve afforded it. Another patient, a young, gifted actor just beginning his career, felt so inadequate around other “successful” performers, he’d freeze during auditions so his talent couldn’t shine. Both patients undermined their own success by surrendering to fear, an automatic reaction they didn’t know how to resist. In psychotherapy, I taught them to say no to fear and yes to the more loving, powerful parts of themselves, a conscious choice to move toward the positive. Similarly, I want to show you how flowing with challenges, rather than clenching onto fears and outmoded beliefs, enables you to solve problems more creatively. It’s miraculous how much your energy and focus clear when you shift from holding back to letting go.

As part of this new conversation, I’d like you to factor intuition into your equation for success. This inner voice that tells you the truth about things is the antidote to fear and an overanxious mind. It’s a creative ally that helps you hold a clearer, bolder vision of how to succeed, even when you’re at an apparent dead end. In over two decades of practicing medicine in Los Angeles, I’ve seen it all when it comes to people trying to make it big in their careers—but what’s often missing is intuition. I’ve watched my patients strive, hope, scheme, dream, get crushed, or triumph. But, prior to working with me, they were mostly driven by willpower, not their inner voice; this often threw off their choices. There’s more to success than just determination or even passion.

That’s where destiny comes in. It’s the reason we came this way, and it’s what can make us whole. We can’t control everything, as much as we may try. However, as I discovered in my life, the curveball is that destiny might not fit the scenario that you had in mind. As the Yiddish expression goes, “Man plans. God laughs.” To align with and fulfill your destiny, listening to intuition is key in the new paradigm of power. You can’t just think yourself there. Here, success is determined by your willingness to surrender to unexpected possibilities.

Let me tell you how intuition helped me find my true calling. In my early twenties, I’d dropped out of college to live with my artist boyfriend in an old converted brick Laundromat in Venice Beach. To help support us, I worked in the bedding department in the May Company, a job I enjoyed and which instilled in me a love for luxurious sheets and towels. During my time off, I volunteered in a parapsychology lab at UCLA with Dr. Thelma Moss, my mentor, and began to embrace my intuition after having been so frightened by it since childhood. Then one night I had a startling dream. In it, I was told, “You’re going to become an MD, a psychiatrist, to have the credentials to legitimize intuition in medicine.” In the dream this seemed perfectly reasonable, though when I awoke I felt like someone was playing a practical joke. Me, a psychiatrist? I am the daughter of two physicians and it might have seemed logical that I’d follow in their footsteps, but I’d never shown the slightest interest, nor had my parents pushed that, since I was terrible in science. Besides, I’d been around physicians all my life. They were nice enough but, honestly, a bit boring, though there were exceptions, including my parents. I’d always been more creative and gravitated to eccentric artists and outsiders. I didn’t know what career I’d choose, but going through fourteen years of medical training was definitely not my plan. In fact, after I took a career aptitude test in high school, the psychologist, whose brown hair was pinched in the scariest, tightest bun I’d ever seen, warned, “Never go into the helping professions! You’re better off in the arts.” It wasn’t surprising. Back then, the thought of listening to someone else’s problems had no appeal at all.

Still, since I was starting to trust my intuition, I decided to give my dream a chance, as absurd as it seemed to every logical fiber in my being. So I made an agreement with myself. I’d enroll in one course in Santa Monica City College just to see how it went. To my amazement, though I’d been out of school a few years and hadn’t missed it, I lit up in this geography class. We studied the moon’s cycles, the earth’s strata, and how the wind formed—natural forces I’d always felt inexplicably connected to. And so my learning cycle began. One class became two, and then I continued on to complete fourteen years of medical training. This dream led me to my true calling.

About success, my point is that sometimes all you have to do is open up a crack to your intuition’s guidance, whether you think it’s doable or not. That’s enough. I didn’t need to completely surrender to the idea that I’d be a doctor. I didn’t even have to believe that it was possible. However, what I did do was take a tiny step forward to allow for the possibility. Initially, my logical self kept insisting, “This is ridiculous.” True, on one level it was. But logic doesn’t know everything. Thank goodness I didn’t allow it to jam the works of my destiny unfolding. I was riding an invisible wave that felt wonderful and right. I just tried to let go and trust it.

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The Ecstasy of Surrender: 12 Surprising Ways Letting Go Can Empower Your Life 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
Tommy_Rector More than 1 year ago
With The Ecstasy of Surrender, Dr. Judith Orloff gives us yet another illuminating, clear-eyed treasure trove of life-changing possibilities. Her idea and practice of Surrender -- the grace of letting go at the right moment -- is an art and a science that her book explains in wonderful detail through lively writing that I couldn't put down. It has sent me out into the world with a beautiful, do-able mission: to find peace. The Ecstasy of Surrender holds such a rich tapestry of CHOICES we can make to improve our lives, and helps us understand how we can open up to them. It is sensual, infectious, and -- yes! -- ecstatic. This book feels like an awesome culmination of Orloff's own writings, findings, blessings, and experiences as a decades-long healer in both traditional and alternative medicine. Totally essential.
JNS More than 1 year ago
I love this book since it teaches me to let go of what is not serving me to make room for the great things in my life. I can stop micro-managing every little thing and allow and surrender to letting things flow easily. I like that the author applies this to all aspects of life from relationships, career to a good night's sleep. I look forward to applying these principles and techniques to all aspects of my life and living with more ease and joy.
Tobyfh More than 1 year ago
Surrender as a coping technique for life's issues is a thought-provoking premise. Orloff develops it into an insightful approach. She assumes her readers have high intelligence and talks directly to them with respect and forthrightness. This quality makes her an excellent teacher.  Her chapters speak to paths we all follow from time to time in our lives. I took her suggestion to jump around to read the chapters that have greatest relevance.  The chapter on igniting your super senses and particularly the art of reading people encourages the reader to greater sensitivity in relating to other people. She assumes we all have super senses and can develop them if we choose to. I found the surrender test and the chapters on illness and aging equally valuable.  I love to read books with a highlighter. Returning to read the highlights later gives me added dimension. Orloff's book is such a treasure: "Surrender to your intuition: Make space for grace." "...illness is a call for your soul to grow. "...dreams are committed to supporting your well being." "Make your mind a shelter, a safe place to go." If we learn her techniques we can grow spiritually, have happier more fulfilling lives, and give more meaningful service to mankind. If that possibility intrigues you, I highly recommend The Ecstasy of Surrender as a guide.  You'll be glad you read it. Toby Fesler Heathcotte
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have spent a lifetime trying to figure out what I am doing wrong. Now I realize, thanks to this wonderful book, I realize now that there are ways I can increase joy in my life.  This book has taught me to prevent being exhausted and worn down by other people's issues. There is a section on emotional empathy that really helped me. I feel like I can finally live my life with a sense of freedom and control I didn't have before. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is just what I was looking for! Practical, insightful and this book deals with the very issues I am struggling with. Stress, not feeling good, low energy, bad relationships...I struggle with all of it. I finally have the tools I need to make a real difference in my life. I know now how to stop taking on other people's stress and illnesses, and still remain caring and compassionate. Thank you Dr. Orloff!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was recommended to me to help me overcome a difficult relationship. I was struggling with grief, loss and anger. I was blown away how helpful the tools provided in this book were to help me find peace and a new energy, moving forward. I honestly didn't think I would find that again and i that life would always have a dull ache inside. This book gave me specific examples and strategies that helped me make changes in the way I think, the way I look at the world and myself that have turned it around. I am no longer worn down from people pulling me down to the point of being ill. I feel happy and filled with excitement that the future will be filled with joy.
pamelasthibodeaux More than 1 year ago
Surrender.... the word normally does not bring about warm, fuzzy feelings. We tend to think of this emotional, physical or spiritual "letting go" in the most negative connotations..... weakness, cowardice, defeat. Filled with examples, exercises and meditations to aide us,Dr. Orloff shows us the absolute peace and power in surrender. This is not a book to be read by the faint of heart or those who are not serious about changing their lives. Nor is it one to read and put away, but one to savor over and over, again and again. Definitely a keeper! Pamela S Thibodeaux *This book was given to me by Promo 101 Promotional Services in return for an honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What an amazing gift! Dr. Orloff teaches us how to surrender to joy so we can be happier and at peace in our daily lives. Dr. Orloff demonstrates that, ironically people resist joy and focus on the ten percent of our lives that is not working rather than the 90 percent that is working. This book taught me to stop resisting joy, but to finally but to embrace it fully.  I am so excited about the possibilities of each day now, and the power I have to create my dream life. Thank you Dr. Orloff!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The title, The Ecstacy of Surrender, made me think I had picked up a sexy romance novel.  But that is not what the book is all about.  The surrender is "the grace of letting go at the right moment."  Surrender is a way to take back your life...being willing to let go of the drama.  The ecstacy is the hoy which you will discover as you let go.Dr. Orloff is both a medical doctor and a psychiatrist.  She has structured her book so that each chapter explains in detail how and why to surrender (read: let go) of a particular issue.  Then she gives concrete examples and exercises to help the reader reach surrender.  Dr. Orloff stresses that we mush rely on our intuition and gut feellings to lead us to the right path.  Listen to what your body has to say.  She stated, "Research has shown that happy epople look for opportunity where others see only crisis."  Then she cited some statistics I found very interesting:  What makes us happy?  10% of happiness comes from external factor (wealth, socail status); 50% comes from your genetic makeup and 40% comes from inner changes you make.  To me that means I can have a lot of input inot whether or not I am happy.  And relaxing and following your intuition are ways to do that.  While I was reading this book, I had a number of opportunities to put some of what I learned into practice.  I was very amazed at how well they worked and how great I felt.  These were situations that could have gone all wrong, yet, using Dr. Orloff's principles, these situations turned out to be wonderful experiences.  I would highly recommend The Ecstacy of Surrender to any one who is looking to change his or her life for the better.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You've no doubt heard the Serenity Prayer: "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference." It makes sense, but reading it and even deciding to follow this wisdom is much easier than actually living the Serenity Prayer. The Ecstasy of Surrender is your "how-to" manual for living each day in accordance with the wisdom of the Serenity Prayer. Though I'm only about half-way through the book, the six surrenders I've read thus far are practical approaches to letting go of those things in life that we, as individuals, cannot and should not attempt to control. I've found the secret of living an easier life is to find a balance between intentional creation and acceptance of what is. Note: I received a complementary copy of this book from Book Promotional Services in exchange for my honest review.
Ryshia More than 1 year ago
The Ecstasy of Surrender is about empowerment through letting go. From the first of twelve surrenders, letting go of the false security of power and money, to the last surrender that discusses making peace with death, the author leads us toward a deeper more spiritual life using a variety of tools including meditation and awareness of self and the natural world, bringing us to a more reflective and less chaotic life. At times I found that the book was diverting into too many other topics but then the author neatly pulled it all back to the main topic in an almost seamless fashion. “Nature never promises us that anything in the material world will last forever. The big wheel keeps on turning. What nature does give us is the blessings of cycles, growth, and the mystery of change.” Phrases like this found in the Twelve Surrender, a chapter on death and the afterlife, are provocative words. There were many such moments throughout the book. And while some of the author’s thoughts and beliefs were more esoteric in nature, they were no more thought inducing. This book may not change who you are, at least not immediately, but it definitely will make you pause and consider, if only for a moment - other possibilities.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What a wonderful resource! I have struggled with exhaustion and a sense of sadness for a while. This book gave me real tools to deal with toxic people who are draining me and to put real joy back in my life. The specific and practical strategies, along with an easy to read and understand presentation made this book a game changer for me. I can move forward now with a sense of optimism and peace in my day. I highly recommend everyone keep this book on their nightstand. read and and use it as an ongoing refresher course. Life really can be wonderful with the right tools! 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Every once in a while someone or something will enter your life that reminds you to stop and look at things from a different perspective. Dr. Judith Orloff is great at doing just that. I have been reading her books since 2004 and I recommend this book as another great example of her work in which she skillfully educates us that we can actually get ahead by letting go! "The Ecstasy of Surrender" not only helps you think about adding more balance to your busy and often too-controlling ways but it also reminds you to take at least five minutes per day to replenish yourself so you can be even more for others! I have many pages marked and am dedicated to start applying the included suggestions to my life right here and now! Regardless of where you are with your career, relationships or family, this is a MUST READ and MUST HAVE book to start reading today!
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