Attachment to our thoughts
From what I’ve heard, March was a rough month for most people. It certainly was for me. Sure, there were some big things that happened with work and in my personal life that disrupted my flow and added a bit of chaos, but there were also just so many thoughts and so much energy swirling around in my body and mind. As an avid meditator, writer and yogi, I can usually shift thoughts pretty easily. That just has not been the reality for me lately.
There are some particular areas of my life right now that are so full and exciting. What I continue to do is look for where the holes are in that positivity and create a story about it not working out. Where I’m noticing this happens is in my personal relationships, primarily. I am starting to understand that this is because I have less control in this area, as another person is involved.
In school, I can tell you that if I put in 15 hours of work and study this much and work this hard, I will do well. It’s more formulaic. For work, if I work ___ hours I will make ____ dollars and my mortgage and bills are taken care of. I understand these areas aren’t so straight forward for everyone, and they aren’t always for me, I just seem to be able to logically let go of outcomes with them, more so than other areas. I have more faith in my ability to perform and trust that things will work out the way they’re supposed to.
When it comes to relationships, I don’t have control over the other person’s actions. I can make my needs known, and then I have to let go of the outcome. What I like to do is predict that things won’t work out ahead of time, or that someone doing (or not doing something) means they don’t care about me. The thought is allowed to come in, however, it is the meaning I attach to it that gets me in trouble.
Sure, the fact might be that something has or hasn’t happened, yet. That doesn’t necessarily mean what I think it means, though. When I spend (waste) my time trying to decipher how someone else is acting and why, it’s a total misuse of my energy.
What I am also noticing is that when the first thing I am attaching to is cleared and taken care of, I just jump to attaching to the next fear. For example – I was worried a friend wasn’t going to come to my birthday next week. I decided that because they hadn’t booked their flight into Toronto yet, that meant they weren’t coming. I decided that meant we weren’t going to work out as friends because they weren’t following through on what they said they would. They totally booked their flight and are coming, but for a few weeks I was super spun out about it. Then, when the flight was booked, I had a few days of chill time before my thinking went squirrely again real fast. I then decided a bunch of other things based off of nothing.
See, if I continually look to someone else to validate me or make me feel better or self-assured, I will always be looking to something outside of myself to fix me. People disappoint you. It’s human nature. I also will always find something to focus on. There will always be a lack that I can pay attention to and decide needs to be different.
What I am doing now is remembering that I can choose my thoughts. I might not have control over the initial thought that comes in, but I can decide to choose a different next thought.
So, when the thought comes in that, “they didn’t book they’re flight, they aren’t coming”. I started shifting that to, “they didn’t book they’re flight yet, and that’s okay”. Or, “they didn’t book they’re flight yet, and regardless of what happens, I will be okay”. Then, I don’t have to sit with it for hours and stress.
Reminding myself consistently as well that this thinking expels so much of my energy, and where attention goes, energy flows. That energy can be better spent putting attention back onto myself, rather than focusing on somebody else. That is what loving detachment looks and feels like.
In the same way that if we look to something outside of ourselves to fill us up, our thoughts can have the same effect. If I am only going to be happy after the next job or the next pay increase, happiness will always be fleeting and temporary. If I am only going to be okay when something I decide has to happen, happens, I will find something else that needs to be changed or fixed. All I can do is detach and put that energy back onto myself. Do something loving for myself. Focus on my job or other friendships or exercising.
If I can let it be, things have a funny way of working out how they’re supposed to.