Releasing attachment to the outcome is a concept that, for a while, I found it difficult to wrap my mind around. How can you be focused and motivated about your goals or your desires and not be attached to the result? How can you practice visualisation and manifestation and not want the exact thing you dream of to come true? How can you have a plan in life without being determined about where you’re headed?
When I saw this picture from Kimberly Snyder a few years ago I immediately printed it out and stuck it on my vision board: it spoke to me, but I still wasn’t fully comprehending what it said.
I am still not entirely sure how the act of visualisation and letting go of the outcome work together. Everything I’ve read about visualisation and manifestation has said to focus on specifics, but I am not sure how you can be attached to a specific without also being attached to an outcome.
However, over the last year I have come to realise how liberating it is to actually detach from outcomes or the image in your head of how you think something is going to play out, and instead focus on embracing as many different experiences in life as possible.
Today I went to a yoga workshop for people new to headstands. For so long I have wanted to master some impressive inversions so that I can feel strong and badass (and also show off a little bit on Instagram). Despite my enthusiasm and the support from the fellow students, I didn’t get as far along as I’d hoped and pain in my neck forced me to stop. For a moment I felt so disappointed, frustrated and tearful. There would be no amazing first headstand triumph (and the Insta-worthy pic to prove it) today! But then I realised, so what? It’s all part of the journey and the experience, all part of me learning about what I need to do to get stronger and explore what my body can do. This isn’t failure: the success is in my trying.
It also highlighted that some sneaky comparisonitis had snuck in, where I was looking at my fellow students and all these amazing yogis on social media, and I realised that whilst it is fun to share your journey and achievements, and to be inspired by others, my personal practice shouldn’t be about measuring myself against others. So, I’ll knock that ego notion on the head right now!
The journey and the experiences that come with it are the important parts, and by holding on to a set notion or picture you are more than likely opening yourself up to feelings of failure, and potentially missing other brilliant experiences and opportunities that might present themselves.
Clinging to a set idea is a fear-based thought process because when you are focusing so intently on a specific outcome, you aren’t being present – and you’re probably not accepting who you are right now as good enough. One of the biggest feelings of anguish I had when I was deciding whether or not to come back from New Zealand was feeling like a failure for not being able to do this big impressive thing of moving to the other side of the world on my own. Somewhere along the line, going to New Zealand had ceased to be just about me doing something for me, and also became about impressing others. And the need to impress others stemmed from a lack of self-acceptance and openness to life.
One day I hope to nail the headstand, but I am going to focus my efforts on getting strong and enjoying the strength in my body. It doesn’t matter how long it takes me to master a yoga inversion, or how quickly I do it compared to others: the joy is in playing with the experience. The success is in giving things a go, because you are making the most out of your life and out of your present moment.
It is incredibly hard to let go of all expectations about how you think another person, a situation or an achievement should turn out to be, but starting to detach from outcomes is quickly becoming one of the most liberating, fulfilling and exciting decisions I have made.
“Show up, and choose to be present. Pay attention to what has heart and meaning… Be open to outcome, not attached to outcome.” – Angeles Arrien