What in the hell is outcome attachment?
You know, outcome attachment… you meet a guy (or girl) and you hit it off and you imagine the wedding and the house and the 2.5 kids and then a few months down the line things change and suddenly the life you thought you were going to have is nowhere in the vicinity. You are left unsatisfied and longing for a future that was never yours.
I did this with Mr. X. ….. I still do this with Mr. X….
Latching on to outcomes isn’t all bad. After all, without attachment to outcomes we wouldn’t have goals and motivation. Attaching to these things can propel us forward, create momentum and lead to some really cool shit happening in our life. But what happens when the idea of an outcome is so strong that it is impossible to put aside? This doesn’t just pertain to relationships, of course. Attachment to an outcome in any area of our life can be detrimental if we are unable to come to terms with how that want has shown up. It can be landing that dream job and realizing the dream is actually closer to a nightmare, or gaining freedom from a situation only to realize we have backed ourselves into another prison. It can pertain to anything really. I know people who have ended up in the life of their dreams and are so attached to the ideal of what they thought it would look/feel like that they slog away, miserable in their existence for decades. Sometimes never realizing anything else is out there.
This happened for me with Mr. X because of the crazy connection we share. All my life I had been looking for that connection, and when I found it I just kind of assumed it was a sign that we were meant to be. It was cosmic lovers finding each other in this messy life, uniting energies and living the proverbial happily ever after. It is a depth of connection that I felt could only be reserved for lovers.
When Mr. X told me that we needed some space and that my vision wasn’t on the same page with his I became a little bit of a crazy chick. No, not slashing tires crazy, but sobbing breakdown crazy. My internal energy was that of a pissed off, spoiled little kid. I was stomping my feet wanting what I wanted and wanting it NOW. It made no sense to my brain or my heart that if he felt the same connection as me why in the hell he wouldn’t just dive into it. I have spent months and months grieving the loss of this future that I never had. I have spent countless hours with him, patiently and lovingly, ushering me through sadness and gently encouraging me to be present and enjoy our time together. Much of the time I couldn’t, or more accurately, I didn’t want to. I wanted to be sad. I wanted to mourn and grieve and focus on the loss of my storybook life. It is only in the last month or two that I have been able to shift perspective and come to some understanding that things don’t always turn out how we think they should. And that’s okay. I was holding on so tightly to the one thing I was SURE about in life. I KNEW love could ONLY be this way. When it wasn’t, it was as if I had just jumped off a 1000 foot cliff without a parachute. I felt lost and confused with the ground rapidly advancing toward me.
When I look back I realize all I have ever really wanted was love, not to be loved by anyone, but this earth melting, insanely connected love with a man. That was it. Sure, I had other dreams and things I thought would be cool to do in life, and I did most of them. Love was always the elusive one, the one I yearned for. Now, when I zoom out from all the drama I realize, I have that. I have exactly what I was looking for, exactly what my heart wanted. I have this person with whom I have this amazing connection and love. And we aren’t “together,” and we might never be. What we will always be though, is connected. We will always be great friends. It looks nothing like what I pictured, and has forced me to change a lot of preconceived notions of what I thought intimate relationships should look like.
Part of the grief and pain was that I felt I was missing out on this romantic aspect of this spectacular connection. The other part, that I realize only now, is that if I wasn’t looking for this, this love, then what did I have to look for? Somehow finding what I wanted was really scary because I no longer had that thing that was driving my life. Let me be clear, my life wasn’t that great a year ago. Yes, I had ticked some boxes of success as dictated by society, but I wasn’t happy. Something huge was missing and I realize it was human connection. I truly believed that having this man in my life would fulfill me so much that I wouldn’t need anything else. Which was great, because I had the career so what else did I need to be considered a success? The thing about a connection like the one I have with Mr. X is that it can very quickly and easily become the icky side of dependency. I wanted to be saved, and he did that. And I wanted to stay docked to that and let my life be whatever Mr. X wanted it to be and I would go along for the ride because we would be together and that would be all I needed (isn’t that an insane amount of pressure to put on another person).
Wrong, wrong, wrong. Mr. X knew it. I knew it. Even as I was thinking those thoughts of how great it would be to just be cared for and protected and not have to “deal with the world,” I also knew I would never be happy like that. Once I was able to zoom out and take a bigger picture view I realized that wanting that love and connection was super powerful and had been such a driving force in my life for so long that all of my energy was focused on finding that. So I did… and now that I have that, that energy can be directed elsewhere. Namely, back into myself, because the reality is, the human connection that I truly NEED, is with me. Once I accepted the situation of what was going on with Mr. X and how he felt and why he felt the way he did, it was like this whole other world opened up. Once I accepted that I was not going to have the fairy tale ending that I imagined, but I still had the connection that I wanted, my energy shifted to me. I began to ask myself, what do I want? What can I do today that will serve me? How can I show up for myself? Then I started doing those things.
It was only with acceptance and the end of resistance that my lenses were able to clear and I was able to see a whole host of other options for my life that I never would have been able to notice being stuck in that whirlpool of drama. The truth is, there is never just one path to happy. And looking for another person to “complete you” or fill you up is a recipe for disaster. You have to be willing to be whole as you, for you. You have to be willing to step off the path for a minute, take a look around and realize that there are endless other trails and tangents that lead to beautiful, enchanting, fulfilling place. You just have to be open to finding them.
How do you overcome outcome attachment? You breathe. You let the pain be there, but you don’t amplify it and you scan for all of the positives and gains and strengths acquired, and then you focus on you. You breath into your heart. You explore the world looking for things that create a spark of life and pretty soon you will have gathered so many that a bonfire is lit and the momentum to create pushes you to the next thing. And suddenly each step you take leads to the next, and the next and the next. And none of them look like how you thought they SHOULD, but the rush of excitement in your heart cannot be ignored, and that is when once again, you find life. ❤ ❤
** We all need catalysts for our journeys back to self. Mine is Mike Kemski. I write about him here. He is starting a challenge that will amplify your life and lead you to a path of transformation that is unlike any other. The challenge starts January 6th. These are the last few days to get your ass in gear and start living the life you want. Don’t be like me, don’t wait until your heart is gasping for breath and all you can see in front of you is the monotony of your current existence. Dare to create, dare to dream big. This man, this challenge and this community are all you need to get started.
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