Do you ever feel like you’re holding on too tightly to something? Or like you’re too attached to the outcome of a situation?
I think many of us experience this feeling regularly. We want so badly for things in our lives to turn out a certain way.
But when we cling to our vision too firmly, we can actually stifle our desired outcome.
Yogic philosophy describes the perils of attachment in great detail. We attach to many things, like material possessions, people, relationships, money, and outcomes. According to yogic wisdom, it’s this attachment that causes much of our suffering. Why? Because when people don’t act how we think they should or we lose our material possessions, we end up feeling anxious and sad. As an attempt to end this cycle, many yogis practice non-attachment, or aparigraha, which involves trying to release your grip on these worldly possessions and outcomes.
Practicing non-attachment isn’t easy. We’re human, and many things in this world are important to us. Society also tells us that the more we own, the more valuable we are as a human being. But it’s important that we take time regularly to release our attachments and go with the flow of life, as opposed to clinging so tightly to our idea of how we think things should be.
I work with non-attachment a lot. As someone who once started her own business and released a book, I often find myself very attached to several outcomes, many of which involve things like Oprah and The New York Times. It’s natural for me to want my business and my book to succeed, but if I hold on too tightly to these outcomes, I can actually hurt the chances of them coming to fruition.
Think of it this way. If I’m so obsessed with getting on Oprah that I work myself to the bone and burn out, I won’t be of service to anyone. If I’m too preoccupied with my book making The New York Times bestseller list, people are going to start feeling like I’m pushing my book on them instead of seeing my story as a positive contribution to the world of mental health.
One of my favorite authors, Cheryl Richardson, often talks about how excited she was when she finally got a call from the Oprah show, saying that they would like to have her on as a guest. Then, a few weeks before she was set to appear on the show, they called her back and said they wouldn’t need her anymore. She was extremely disappointed, partly because she’d been so attached to the vision of herself appearing on Oprah.
Eventually, Cheryl did end up on Oprah several times, but not until the Universe was ready. Cheryl realized that when the Oprah show had first called her, she hadn’t had enough media experience to really do well on the show. The second time the show called, she was more experienced after having done many local TV and radio shows. As always, everything happened in perfect, divine timing.
Cheryl’s story also highlights how our attachment to a particular outcome keeps us from enjoying the journey.
We need to shift our mindset from “I’ll be happy when…” to simply enjoying the process of getting there.
Life is an adventure, and we experience so many amazing things on our journey. Don’t take these experiences for granted.
As another example, when I was deciding whether or not to leave my job to follow my dream of writing a book, I noticed how attached I was to my house and to my vision of myself as a homeowner. I kept thinking to myself, “What if I quit my job and then lose my house because I can’t afford my mortgage?” My attachment to my house was keeping me from following my soul’s true purpose. At this point, it became clear to me that I didn’t own my house; my house owned me. Eventually, I realized that I wouldn’t die if I lost my house—I would find a new place to live and a way to support myself if necessary.
When we’re too attached to outcomes and material possessions, life feels hard. It feels like we’re constantly paddling upstream, pushing to succeed or reach some desired vision of ourselves. Practicing non-attachment involves letting go of the paddles and allowing your boat to float downstream. When we learn to go with the flow of life in this way, things become easier. Regardless of whether things turn out exactly how we think they should, we learn to trust that everything is happening precisely as it’s meant.
Take a moment right now to consider whether you’re holding on too tightly to something in your life. Then choose to let go and trust. Know that there is always a lesson or gift in everything that happens to you.
Today, choose to enjoy the journey.
Bethany Butzer, Ph.D. is an author, speaker, researcher, and yoga teacher who helps people create a life they love. Check out her book, The Antidepressant Antidote, follow her on Facebook and Twitter, and join her whole-self health revolution.
If you’d like tips on the topic of manifesting your dream job, plus some personal instruction from Bethany, check out her online course, Creating A Life You Love: Find Your Passion, Live Your Purpose and Create Financial Freedom.
*Photo Credit: Jalianah