Despite all my best efforts and planning, 2018 has not quite started in the way that I had intended it.
I am not as organised as I want to be, I haven’t yet reached the (impossibly) ambitious goals I had set out to achieve by this time, and life in general seems to be an exercise in ‘flying by the seat of the pants’ which has certainly dialled up the volume on my stress levels.
In an effort to free myself from this downward spiral I recently took some time out to reflect on the underlying pattern of behaviour that is fuelling this chaos and stress and the conclusion I have come to is that ‘attachment’ is the culprit.
When we set our minds to a goal we generally ‘attach’ ourselves to the way in which we THINK that goal needs to be attained and that is where things generally start to unravel.
The more tightly we attach to HOW we want things to be - rather than relaxing into accepting whatever might happen as a result of putting our best selves forward - the more the stress levels rise.
The same holds for the attachments we hold around HOW we want ourselves and those around us to be. Instead of accepting ourselves and those around us for the wonderfully flawed individuals that we all are, we get frustrated at the perceived lack of perfection.
The more we cling on, the harder the struggle becomes as invariably things will unfold in their own way regardless of how much we may try to force them to take shape in the way we have decided is ‘best’. The danger of this is that it not only fuels the feelings of anxiety, stress and perceived failure but puts us at risk of actually missing the moment and recognising our achievement simply because it failed to materialise in the way that we thought it should.
But intellectually KNOWING that we should allow the journey to unfold and the reality of ALLOWING ourselves to simply go with the flow and celebrate the outcome regardless of HOW it came to be are two different things.
So how then do we practice the fine art of letting go in a way that is achievable and sustainable?
Practice Self Awareness - aka reflective meditation. Simply sitting still and trying to pay attention to the present moment - your breath, your body and your direction of your thoughts. Take note of the depth of your breath, the tension points in your body and most importantly the themes you are replaying in your self talk - are they helping you or adding fuel to the fire already within?
Self awareness is all about noticing those attachments that are not serving us and letting them go.
Be Present - think about how present you are right now. Are you trying to do a million things at once or are you taking the time to be in the moment of every activity you undertake.
Our best selves reside in the present moment, however we spend so much of our energy dwelling on what has been or is yet to come that we leave very little opportunity to experience what actually is.
Focusing on being more present with each task ensures that your focus is placed firmly on the actual doing.
Stop Self Judgement - one of the biggest enablers of attachment is the amount of time we spend inside our own heads criticising ourselves and obsessing about whether or not we are good enough to actually achieve what we set out to do. We get so crippled by self judgement that we create a downward spiralling sense of self worth.
Starting each day with the assumption that we are good enough to be the best version of whatever role (mother, daughter, sister, friend, wife, partner, colleague etc) we need to embody helps ensure we operate from a place of confidence and minimise the negative self chatter that we all get caught up in.
Accept - at the heart of it, attachment is about not wanting things to be the way they are, because there is something about the present moment, thing, or person that we cannot accept.
Being able to accept that things and people are actually OK the way they are opens us up to the actuality of the moment, helping us move past the ‘ideal’ and opening ourselves up to exploring the possibilities presented by what is.
Enjoy - we don’t always win, not every project is a knock out success, and not every action needs to result in an outcome - accepting these facts and allowing ourselves to enjoy the journey itself is the key to a happier, healthier and saner self.
For me this last point is the most important as I find that the more in my head I am and the more attached to the HOW I become, the less I enjoy even those projects that would under any other circumstance ignite my inner fire.
Letting go is a journey we all need to revisit from time to time in order to free ourselves to live, love and lead fearlessly, with strength, courage and joy.
Author: Deidre Dattoli
Deidre is highly experienced in the fields of executive coaching and leadership development, team dynamics and performance, offering a range of personal and group leadership training programs, customized training solutions, consultancy and coaching services.
Deidre is one of Griffith Consulting's key program facilitators.
For more information about Deidre, please go to: http://www.deidredattoli.com/