I am the world’s best at shooting my own self in the foot.
You know how it is—you’re on the journey, goals in mind, clicking off one task after another, knowing you’re getting somewhere, and all of a sudden you make some bone-head move that sets you back, oh, about fifteen years. Or so it seems. Or at least I do.
Why do I do goofy stuff?
Actually, I know why I do. It’s simple, really. By far my biggest obstacle (and it holds true for most folks I know, in one form or another) is holding too tightly to the thing desired.
You know how that is? You want something so badly that you stay attached to the outcome.
I, like most folks, have powerful dreams. They keep me motivated when I’m slogging through the slough of despond (my thanks to the Bard!). And I grasp onto those things, wanting them in every fiber of my being. I can literally strangle the life out of the thing I love to distraction, so detachment has been just about my biggest hurdle.
Long ago I spent a stint in an Al-Anon group (for friends and families of alcoholics), which taught me more than I can begin to say. And one of the teachings focused on detaching with love. Man, was I ever great at detaching from a relationship with anger! I’d left many a man that way and never looked back. But detaching with love? Eeeekk!
Had to work on that one a while. But I finally learned that to detach from someone or something because you were mad at it just set you up to recreate the same relationship again. Or a worse one. Because as long as you still have emotion tagging onto the detachment, you’re still attached. As the sages say, the opposite of love isn’t hate, it’s ambivalence.
And attachment is based on fear.
Fear of not having the thing desired. Once I got that, everything changed.
It didn’t mean I still didn’t have the intention for my dreams, desires, and goals. I kept the intention. But the attachment to the result needed to go.
And that, I still work on. Just about the instant I think I’m good with whatever happens, it bites me in the butt.
And I realized too that was the source of my bone-head moves—fear of not realizing my dream. Fear that it just wouldn’t happen for me. That I was the cosmic fluke in this universe.
Which kinda goes back to Al-anon—the thought that the little i is more powerful than all the moons and stars and suns. That I could be the one person for whom universal laws don’t apply.
Man, was that one of those ah-ha moments! The next step was a bit easier—to stay in the present moment. To keep my intention, but let go of the result.
And I’ve always loved this (rather lengthy!) quote from Alan Watts, in The Wisdom of Insecurity:
“But you cannot understand life and its mysteries as long as you try to grasp it. Indeed, you cannot grasp it, just as you cannot walk off with a river in a bucket. If you try to capture running water in a bucket, it is clear that you do not understand it and that you will always be disappointed, for in the bucket the water does not run. To ‘have’ running water you must let go of it and let it run.”
That image now pops up anytime I try and grasp onto an outcome. Which helps me let go.
What tips do you have to relinquishing an outcome?