What does it mean to give up or surrender? Today’s guest, Kute Blackson, is an expert on the topic, having written “The Magic of Surrender.” Join us as Kute explains that surrendering doesn’t mean lying down, pulling the covers over your head, and giving up. Rather, surrender can give us the power of relinquishing control and no longer trying to put conditions on our lives.
Kute Blackson is a beloved inspirational speaker and transformational teacher. He speaks at countless events he organizes around the world as well as at outside events including A-Fest, YPO (Young Presidents’ Organization), and EO (Entrepreneurs’ Organization). He is a member of the Transformational Leadership Council, a select group of 100 of the world’s foremost authorities in the personal development industry. Winner of the 2019 Unity New Thought Walden Award, Blackson is widely considered a next generation leader in the field of personal development. His mission is simple: To awaken and inspire people across the planet to access inner freedom, live authentically, and fulfill their true life’s purpose.
Gabe Howard is an award-winning writer and speaker who lives with bipolar disorder. He is the author of the popular book, “Mental Illness is an Asshole and other Observations,” available from Amazon; signed copies are also available directly from the author.
Gabe makes his home in the suburbs of Columbus, Ohio. He lives with his supportive wife, Kendall, and a Miniature Schnauzer dog that he never wanted, but now can’t imagine life without.
To book Gabe for your next event or learn more about him, please visit gabehoward.com.
Producer’s Note: Please be mindful that this transcript has been computer generated and therefore may contain inaccuracies and grammar errors. Thank you.
Announcer: You’re listening to Inside Mental Health: A Psych Central Podcast where experts share experiences and the latest thinking on mental health and psychology. Here’s your host, Gabe Howard.
Gabe Howard: Welcome, everyone. I’m your host, Gabe Howard and calling into the show today we have Kute Blackson. Kute is a member of the Transformational Leadership Council, a select group of 100 of the world’s foremost authorities in the personal development industry. He’s also the author of the book “The Magic of Surrender.” Kute, welcome to the show.
Kute Blackson: Thanks for having me.
Gabe Howard: You know, when I think of the word surrender, all that comes to mind is the catchphrase from Galaxy Quest, never give up, never surrender. But your message is that surrendering is actually a good thing. But before we get to that, I want to make sure that we’re all playing with the same terms. What exactly is surrender?
Kute Blackson: Yeah. I think in a culture today we have this idea that surrender is weak. Surrender means giving up, but if you surrender, you’re waving the white flag that you’re going to get left behind. You’re going to be a doormat; you’re going to be a victim. Taken advantage of. That if you surrender, you won’t manifest your goals, your dreams, desires. And what I’m really saying, that if you surrender, that if you surrender, what if you didn’t get less? And but what if you got more? More than you could even have intended and imagined for yourself? And so I believe that surrender is, in fact, the most powerful thing that you can do.
Gabe Howard: As you’ve alluded in your answer, the status quo is that surrender is bad. Why do you personally see it differently?
Kute Blackson: So many of the best things that really happen in your life. Happened without your planning. They just happened in the process of living life in so many ways. If you look at so many things in your life that you thought were the worst thing. In the moment. But if you look back now, you see how they were actually amazing, how things how things in the moment may not have seem to be going your way or unfolding the way you wanted. Didn’t work out the way you wanted. But now, as you look back in retrospect, you see how. It was necessary and it was perfect. That’s the possibility of surrender. When we surrender, we’re available. When we surrender, we’re open. Now, let me be clear. Surrender doesn’t mean sitting on your couch and doing nothing. Surrender doesn’t mean not taking responsibility. Surrender doesn’t mean being lazy. I’m just going to sit on the couch and just wait for the universe, wait for life, wait for Oprah to knock on my door and discover me. I call it the old paradigm was all about the ego based model of creating new life. Which is all about make it happen, hustle harder, do more, make it happen, make it happen. And you can manifest it, but it’s often limiting in some ways. And so the old paradigm simply asked the question, What do you want? Get clear on what you want. We don’t really ask the question, Who am I? Who is the I?
Kute Blackson: We sometimes achieve what we thought we wanted, only to realize that what we thought we wanted was not what we really wanted. It was just what we thought we wanted based on who we thought we were. And so many times our goals can be projections of unmet needs. And so when we talk about surrender, there’s a slightly different question that we’re writing. The question becomes, what is it that my soul is guiding me to do? What is the deepest impulse that life is seeking to express through me and allowing yourself to be still and then listen and allow yourself to be guided by that. And so the real question becomes not what do I want? But what is it that life is seeking to express to me? And then you can plan and strategize and align your resources, your money, your strategy, your actions. But now you’re working in a direction and a pathway that is authentic, not just trying to do something for the sake of doing it or force something that isn’t truly your highest expression.
Gabe Howard: In the beginning of your book, you share an experience that you had with your mother and what you learned. Can you share that with our listeners now?
Kute Blackson: Yeah. In 2016, my mother was diagnosed with stomach cancer. Complete shock to me. Very unexpected. My mother is the person I loved the most. So it was it was really hard. And I was living in Los Angeles, California. She was in London. I began flying back and forth from Los Angeles to London. Every month for one week to be with her. Took a lot out of me. But it was a. A really amazing, amazing experience. What started out as the worst year of my life. Honestly became the best year of my life because I got to spend so much time with my mother. Time that I had not taken because I was so busy running around the world trying to help people. And I would sit with my mother in chemo every month, holding her hand, talking about nothing. I’d sit with my mother, having a cup of tea or washing the dishes with her. All the things that I had deemed not important. Now that I knew that she was potentially dying, every moment became sacred. The only regret I have in my life, to be honest, was why did I wait until my mother was dying to spend this time with her? I really wished I had taken the time earlier. So in a strange way, the cancer gave us a deeper relationship and a blessing in a certain a certain way. And so about six months into this process, the doctors finally said to us. There’s nothing else we can do. Get your affairs in order.
Kute Blackson: Basically, they let you know that you’re dying. And. I’ll never forget that moment. When the doctor said this and I was holding back tears. We went outside of the hospital and we sat in the car and looked my mother in the eyes, realizing that this. I don’t know how long I would have with her. Each moment could be the last time I see her. It started hitting me and I look my mother in the eyes and I ask her two questions. The first one was, Are you afraid? And my mother said to me, This Japanese, my mother’s Japanese. The Japanese little woman said to me. I’m not afraid. Because I know I’m not this body. This body is just a temporary vehicle for my soul. And even when this body goes, I will be with you from the other side guiding you. So profound. I felt my mother’s strength. I felt her conviction, you know? Then I looked into her eyes, wanting to be a good son, and I said. What do you need? What do you want? What can I do for you to make your final days easier? And she looked at me and she. She said, There’s nothing I want and there’s nothing I need. The only thing I want is what God wants for my life. That was it. And in that moment, I realized something very profound. I felt her conviction. I saw the unshakable ness. I realized that she was free. I realized that she was.
Kute Blackson: Fully surrendered. Not in some woo-woo sense on a mountaintop, but in the face of death. In the most raw, real experience of life. She was living surrender. Demonstrating it for me as an example. She wasn’t attached to living. She wasn’t attached to dying. She was just free. She was truly at peace in a very profound way. And I saw the power, the real power of what it is to live in surrender and openness. And that was what inspired me.
Gabe Howard: Thank you so much for sharing that story. I can only imagine what those moments were like for you and for your mother. And it it really illustrates the power of letting go. I have to say that there was a lot of truth in this story that you shared. And there’s a lot of surrender in this story that you shared. But but being that truthful and that honest and that self-aware is a difficult thing to do. How does one get started down that path? Because it’s very easy to say, just let go, just surrender. Just be honest with yourself. But it’s much harder to do in practice.
Kute Blackson: To be honest. I’m going to I’m going to challenge that because it’s so hard to be honest. No, it’s not. It’s actually harder. The line. Because the cost of living the light in your life is something you have to live with every day. And that’s painful. It’s more expensive to be asked yourself and to live the life and all the energy that it takes to live for people like for someone else. That’s exhausting. And this is why I say, look, just start by telling the truth. Just write down, Write down. What lies am I telling myself? List it out. Here’s all the lies I’m telling myself. Well, stop there. You don’t have to do anything about it. Just begin there. Just start. Just get real. I’m in love. I hate my job. Not healthy. I’m addicted to alcohol. Just begin by acknowledging what is. Be with that. Even if you don’t do anything. I’m not saying even let go. I’m just saying get honest with what’s there. Now, somebody might say, Well, how do I know if I’m lying to myself? It’s so hard because I don’t even know if I’m lying to myself. Here’s how.
Kute Blackson: Number one. You feel ongoing emotional pain. Emotional pain can be ongoing frustration, anger, depression. This can be a sign that you’re not living in touch with your truth, even if you’re not sure why. The challenge is when we feel pain as human beings. Here’s what we do. We distract ourselves. We drink it away, smoke it away, sex it away, porn it away, drug it away, social media it away, shop it away, work it away, whatever it is so that we don’t feel the pain. And so if you’re not sure that you’re lying to yourself is how you’ll know that there’s probably something of that going on. You’re going to feel this constant niggling pain, emotional pain. So just get real. You don’t have to take action. But just start. Just start by getting real. Number two, you might feel some physical pain, shoulder back ache, bellyache, some physical. This is often your unconscious, your suppressed truth. Communicating to you through your body. But three there might be some ongoing disease. Again so much of what we don’t acknowledge consciously get stored in our body.
Kute Blackson: I say whatever we don’t deal with will deal with us and whatever we don’t deal with. We will have to deal with often with the suffering that we end up living or the unhappiness that we end up living in our lives. And so sometimes disease can be a signal that our subconscious is speaking to us, that there’s something we haven’t been paying attention to and that it’s manifesting. And so sometimes disease can be a profound teacher. An invitation to look at what is the what is the message? What am I not acknowledging? What am I not seeing? What am I not dealing with that is manifesting in my body in an ongoing way? Now, the other thing is sometimes you might start attracting to yourself people that reflect, account, demonstrate your own suppressed truth. All of a sudden you start attracting a ton of angry people in your life. Why do I keep attracting all these angry people? Maybe it’s not them that’s really angry. It’s really you that’s angry, but you’re not acknowledging that. So you attract people that act out your own subconscious. And that’s why I say it’s actually easier to tell the truth. It’s more painful and difficult to live the life because you will have to face the the starkness in life that comes from living the life.
Kute Blackson: And that’s painful. It can be challenging to speak the truth because again, the ego wants to protect itself, protect its identity, and so it doesn’t want to change. Telling the truth requires some change. And here’s another reason why we sometimes resist letting go and surrendering. Sometimes we mistakenly think, Oh, if I don’t let go, if I don’t grieve. If I don’t feel. For instance, if I don’t see you. Grief and acknowledge the grief of my mother’s death. Then maybe I don’t have to acknowledge that she’s really gone. And so the disconnection. Can be a kind of way of protecting ourselves again, to not acknowledge reality. If I don’t really acknowledge the grief and the pain I feel from this breaking up with my wife. So at the end of this relationship, then maybe I don’t have to really acknowledge it’s gone. And so I can be in a level of denial. Many times we’re in levels of denial. Then we move on. So a new relationship. But half of our heart is still in the past. So now you’re in a new relationship with only half of your heart available. And obviously that’s not going to end up too well. So that relationship doesn’t work and then you move on again. Now, 80% of your heart is in the past and the cycle continues.
Kute Blackson: So we have to be willing to get real and honest with one of my feelings and allow ourselves to grieve or feelings remain present to a fully felt grief will happen in stages and layers, not all at once, but if we’re willing, willing to allow ourselves to feel the grief. So I invite again everyone to sit with. What have you not allowed yourself to grief? What have you not allowed yourself to feel. And if you can allow yourself to grieve it, to feel it, you then begin letting go. You then begin releasing that layer and layer by layer by layer by layer by layer by layer, you release the old and that’s what also opens you to the new. So when my mother passed, if you will, example, there was I was surrendered, but there was grief on a human level. Rather than denying it or being positive or running away, I just allowed myself. To be with it. And sometimes there would be feelings, sometimes there would be tears, sometimes there would be sensations. And I just allowed myself to be present with it, allow it to move through. Cry if I needed to. There was a layer that got released, and then maybe a week later there was another layer and maybe another week later there was another layer. And you know, weeks later there was. There were layers and layers and eventually. It was just space. And so when I think of my mother now. That attend a place in my heart with a lot of space, a lot of openness, because I’ve allowed myself to feel the grief.
Kute Blackson: I saw that hope. I’m still here and my heart didn’t break. It broke open to. Feeling more and more love. The degree to which we suppress the grief is the degree to which we suppress a capacity for love, our capacity to feel. And then each time of grieving and feeling, my heart with the capacity of my heart would break open. And there was more love. And then there was more love. And so each. Each time. I found my heart could not be broken. And there is a deeper strength. That comes when you allow yourself to feel and move through it and release. Knowing that your heart cannot be broken rather than suppressing it. And so surrender, surrender happens as you let go and you grieve and you release the old so that you can truly open to the new. But we must start with truth.
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Gabe Howard: And we’re back with the author of “The Magic of Surrender,” Kute Blackson.Let me ask you this, though. Surrendering is difficult. How does one begin to surrender and where does one even start?
Kute Blackson: Yeah. I think that’s a really good question. I’ll agree that surrender seems difficult, but I would like us to surrender the idea that surrender is difficult because holding on to the idea that surrender was difficult, I think actually keeps us stuck in making surrender hard. Surrender is easy and surrender is natural. It’s the most natural thing human beings. For instance, obviously we do an audio interview, but if you can visualize that, I am holding a pen in my hand. I’m making a fist around this pen, and I’m holding this pen very, very, very tightly. And I’m now holding this pen so tightly inside of my fist that my hand is beginning to hurt. If I do this long enough, long enough for days, weeks, months, years. Eventually this position of me holding this pen begins to feel natural. It begins to feel normal because I’ve been conditioning myself to do that. So if I say, okay, let go of the pen. Surrender the pen. Let go. It’s actually, so easy to let go. It’s natural to let go. How effortless is it to just let go? Because we’ve been so conditioned to hold on. It can feel so scary.
Kute Blackson: It can feel a little painful. And so first, I just want to propose that surrender is your natural state. In fact, surrender is hardwired into your physiology. I think life is reminding us of the way of life. You breathe in. You don’t just keep breathing in. You have to breathe out. Exhale. Surrender. So every breath life is reminding us that the nature of life is surrender. You breathe in. You exhale. You breathe in. You surrender. It’s just ebb and flow. Inhale. The exhale. The nature of life. The nature of breath. The nature of moment is the surrender. Now, as children, we were born free. As children, we were born, surrendered. We were we would cry when we felt like crying. We we, we poop. When we felt like pooping. We crawled. When we felt like crawling, we laughed and we. We were just in the flow of surrender. We were hugging When felt like hugging, we would jump on the table saying we didn’t care if we didn’t sound like Celine Dion or Bruno Mars or Adele. We were just free in the flow of our own true inspiration. We were surrendered as children. We were all in that surrendered open state of being available to the moment, meeting the moment freshly without preconceived ideas that we were projecting onto life. So what happened? The first thing that happens is we learn as children, often unconsciously, all sorts of strategies to disconnect, shut down and not feel because of the pain and the dysfunction of what was what was there when we were growing up. And we all had some level of some pain, hurt, dysfunction, trauma. Growing up. We learn to shut down, disconnect and not feel, suppress our feelings, suppress our feelings as a way to function, survive and cope. We started to now erect walls and develop all sorts of strategies and survival mechanisms to protect our hearts, to keep us safe, to make sure we don’t feel the pain of how we felt, feeling helpless, feeling less than, feeling disconnected. And so we suppressed our emotions and feelings. We started to learn how to control our feelings in order to not get hurt.
Kute Blackson: And most of this isn’t conscious, by the way. Who do I need to be in order to fit in? Get love, validation, approval so that you’ll love me. Mommy will love me. Daddy will love me. Those people around me will love me. So we control ourselves into a shape. Develop a role, a mask, a persona, an identity, a way of being that we present to the world to be loved. And we hold so tightly to this condition version of our self that we’ve become and we call this me. Not because we’re being bad. Not because we’re not open to surrendering. It’s just conditioning. It’s self protection. So when we understand that ego is a pattern. It’s not what we are. Then we can understand why we resist surrendering and why it feels and seems so scary. And so the ability to meet ourselves with compassion, acknowledge and understand that you’re not those patterns. Acknowledge and understand that it is scary. The more compassionate you can be with yourself, the more surrender can blossom.
Gabe Howard: Kute, thank you so much for being here. For our listeners who want to learn more, where can they find you online? Where can they get your book? Where is all of your information?
Kute Blackson: Awesome. Thanks for having me. A couple of places. My website, my main website, KuteBlackson.com. People can find me there. For people that might be inspired to go deeper, twice a year I do an event in Bali. July, December called Boundless Bliss, www.BoundlessBlissBali.com, www.BoundlessBlissBali.com. If you’re someone that you feel a calling, you know that there are gifts inside of you and you’re ready to unconditioned yourself and connect with who you really are and share those gifts with the world. It’s a 12 day life changing journey I do. The book is available on Amazon, “The Magic of Surrender.” And yes, Instagram @KuteBlackson and Facebook, KuteBlacksonLoveNow. And my podcast is Soul Talk.
Gabe Howard: Thank you so much for being here, Michael. And thank you to all of our listeners. My name is Gabe Howard and I am the author of “Mental Illness Is an Asshole and Other Observations.” I’m also an award-winning public speaker who could be available for your next event. My book is on Amazon, or you can grab a signed copy with free show swag or learn more about me by heading over to gabehoward.com. Wherever you downloaded this episode, please follow or subscribe to the show. It is absolutely free. And hey, do me a favor. Tell a friend, family member, or colleague about the show. Sharing the show is how we grow. I will see everybody next Thursday on Inside Mental Health.
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