Many of us struggle with difficult relationships, the need to have things go a certain way (aka perfectionism) and striving for a desired result from our efforts. So, it’s with good reason, that there is ONE question I ask my clients that really riles them up.
What is it to be unattached – to be completely unattached to the outcome?
And I get why they want to punch me in the face.
This life-altering question came up for me in my own coaching sessions when I found myself playing small (not speaking up, sharing about my life) with significant people and relationships in my life. My inner troll/critic was on the constant look out when whatever I said was disregarded, talked over or misunderstood and misinterpreted by these people. Upon further investigation, I discovered in some ways, I was waiting for specific people in my life to ask the right question and essentially shine their light on me for me to lean in and share about myself and my life. It had to feel safe and requested. Otherwise, I shared very little with them. And if I was in the process of sharing and they got distracted or took the attention away from me I immediately felt insignificant, unimportant and devalued – total proof that they didn’t listen or care. I felt powerless to this endless cycle of feeling sorry for myself believing ‘things will never change’ and ‘how am I ever going to get around these feelings’?
So, my initial response to this epic question was
“What would be the point of doing ANYTHING then if I didn’t care how it turned out?! Why bother existing!”
And upon hearing this come out of my mouth, I hated the idea of caring so much about what others thought! But I couldn’t deny the honest truth that I REALLY wanted them to get it, to get me and to see me!
I reluctantly accepted my assignment to get quiet and explore this BIG question. What I knew for sure what that I WAS surrounded by people that valued and cared about me at their core. This was the truth and that my thoughts and insecurities (although trying to protect me) were not serving me anymore. The bottom line of my writing went as follows:
To be unattached to the outcome would be me living my life on my terms, nobody else’s. It would be freedom of guilt, other people’s judgements and expectations and no longer attaching my value to other people’s responses – good or bad. To be unattached would allow me to feel grounded and whole no matter what came my way… inner strength and living for me first and foremost. In this place, I will never betray myself by seeking value elsewhere again. I am responsible for shining my own light from the inside out. Nobody has the power to dim this light but me.
Is this something I got overnight? Ugh….NO! I may have written it overnight, but practicing it is another thing entirely. I am the first to say that this is GRADUATE level stuff and it’s a constant reminder in my life as I go when I feel myself getting pulled back into that powerless place.It’s a lifelong practice, like being present with the here and now – where we get to try and learn as we go. I have this in my back pocket reminding me of what’s truly important in my life which is to live honouring myself and my values – to stay true to myself so I can serve and love others.
How does this show up in my life now? Well, take for example, the final results of my year long trek to become a Certified Professional Co-Active™ Coach. They are due any day and I am anxious to finally know how I did. I’ve worked damn hard and really want to pass so, I’m very aware of (and grateful for) this “unattached” perspective because if I fail (which I very well might…) I have very different answers to the following questions:
- Will it define me or change how I feel about myself? No.
- Will I be sad, frustrated and/or disappointed? You bet.
- Will it stop me from going for what I want in my life? Hell No.
In this perspective I have total power over how this result affects me. NO matter what happens I will be empowered with either 1) celebrating and rejoicing immediately or 2) Opening myself up to discover where I need to improve to become the effective coach I want to be. Because THIS is what I want to do with my life so I’m not prepared to shy away from it. No matter what they say.
When we are desperately attached to the outcome, it takes a ridiculous amount of energy to try and hold up the effort we not only put forth but then double it in the wanting, hoping and wishing for a desired outcome. In this scenario, it’s exhausting and stressful waiting to see what happens next… knowing our value is possibly at stake.
Being unattached allows us to keep our power close, where we get to speak and express our self, do the things that are important to us and know that whatever feedback we get doesn’t have to level us or decrease our value. And for those black and white people out there – it also doesn’t mean we become emotionless robots – it means we are more empowered and know what we are putting out into the world and why. Being grounded and secure in our intentions for ourselves first. Living from the inside out. How others take or act on it is THEIR stuff. It’s about doing the best we can to accomplish a goal, and then trusting the outcome without trying to force something to happen.
There is a powerful metaphor I heard recently “trying to push the river” where we think we know how things should work out and we try our best to insure it happens. In other words, we stand out in the middle of the river, hold out our hands pushing and demanded that it flow otherwise. And if it doesn’t, we work harder to make that happen.
To be unattached, allows us to be grounded in why we are out in the middle of the river in the first place (taking a stand for who we are, honouring our intentions, our voice, our place in the world, our message to share) and to let our hands fall to our sides and trust that there is a natural flow to ‘what is’ in our life – allowing the movement of the water, to wash over and around us without the need to make it any other way than what it is.
I get how uncomfortable this is as we all have control issues and I’m inviting you to imagine what it would be like? What would be possible if you welcomed this into your life? How would things change for you and your relationships?
Some of the hardest things I’ve experienced and surrendered to have been the BIGGEST sources of growth and joy in my life and my wish is for us all to let go, trust the process unfolding around us and that whatever the outcome, it’s for our highest good – even if it doesn’t make sense at the time.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this as it’s a BIG one to wrap our heads around. What has been your experience in becoming less ‘attached’ and letting go? What have you learned along the way?
Thank you for following and sharing your journey along side me – Keri-Anne x