Let Go: The key to being blissful

Let Go: The key to being blissful

Freedom Goals

I sat down today to write this blog post and thought: am I repeating myself? For your sake, I hope that I’m not yet I feel like I am.

I keep encouraging singles to first embrace themselves and their lives before getting out there to find a partner with whom to create a great relationship. Yet I know so many people who are still stuck. Still overly obsessed with finding partnership and running around in circles, chasing their own tails, trying to achieve their dreams but just not getting anywhere.

Yes it’s true that our desire to love and be loved is a powerful – and neccessary – goal. But I’ve seen so many people to fall into a hopeful wishful obsessive trap where they yearn for a partner so fervently that everything else falls to the wayside.

I’ve seen a lot of emotional suffering and pain arise from this attachment to this desire, yearning, and goal. I see so many singles cling to the myth that relationships are the cause of happiness, as in: “I’ll be happy when I have a romantic partner.”

Too many singles think happiness is contingent upon external circumstances and situations, rather than upon their own inner attitude toward themselves, or toward life in general.

letting go leaves fallingThey become attached to outcomes.

When I was in high school, I used to fall into this trap a lot. I remember hoping and praying that the universe would bring me a special, uber-person who would see me as the divine creature that I am. I will never forget that burning feeling in my heart as I longed for a relationship that would “complete me”.

And what did all that praying get me? Desperation and mania and countless relationship mistakes.

Again – don’t get me wrong. Wanting to love and be loved is one of the greatest things we can do and experience.

The trouble comes when we get driven about our dreams and goals – grasping after them, insisting that they continue, craving and clinging, taking it personally when there’s a hitch, or getting pushy.

The art is to pursue our goals and dreams with enthusiasm, discipline, and skill without getting all hot and bothered about them – and to enjoy life’s pleasures without getting attached to them.

The truth about over-attachment to our desires

Attachment to outcomes or to a goal is based on fear and insecurity. As mentioned previously, you begin to believe that you need something outside of yourself to make you happy. It’s easy to think, “I’ll feel good when I have more money in the bank, lose 15 pounds, find my soul mate, pay off my bills, etc.”.

This obsessive attachment reflects our mind’s struggle in response to challenge – in this case, the challenge is being single and looking.

Yet none of us want to struggle. Most of us want an easier time of being single and an easier time of dating.

Ironically, letting go, particularly regarding outcomes, is key to being peaceful. You set your intentions and take whatever action is needed, and then relinquish your attachment to the outcome. When we get so caught up in our yearnings, such as the idea that we must be in a partnership to be happy, we can’t see the trap we’re setting.

I recently read a poem by the 5th Century Tao poet Chaing Tsu that summarizes the Catch-22 we often set for ourselves:

The Need to Win

When an archer shoots for nothing he has all his skill.
When he shoots for a brass buckle he is already nervous.
When he shoots for a prize of gold
He goes blind, or sees two targets.
His skill has not changed, but the prize divides him.
He cares.
He thinks more of winning than of shooting,
And the need to win drains him of power.

So think about it – the more attached we become to the outcome (finding a perfect partner), the more we over-react emotionally and the more we hinder ourselves. In fact, using this poem as an example, we hinder ourselves in two ways:

Emotionality: If the archer needs to win, the prospect of failure is threatening and produces an emotional reaction – nervousness – which undermines the steady hand required of the task.

Distraction: The archer will perform best when his attention is focused on shooting to the complete exclusion of everything else. To the extent the archer thinks of winning rather than shooting, the prize divides him and the need to win drains him of power.

Benefits of non-attachment

When you understand the true meaning of non-attachment:

  • Expectations no longer rule your life.
  • Emotions arise, but you have perspective.
  • You have a clarity of mind so you’re able to see through to the truth of things.
  • The problems of this world evoke compassion rather than anger.
  • You don’t chase after happiness. You just enjoy it when it’s present, and release it when it dissolves.
  • You’re able to allow life to unfold without needing to control everything.
  • You don’t stop loving. You love even more.
  • Your heart only grows bigger and bigger and bigger, when you see all the unnecessary suffering in this world.

The Let-go How-to:

OK I love this image but letting balloons drift into our atmosphere is not great for our environment... I know, Buzz Kill.

OK I love this image but letting balloons drift into our atmosphere is not great for our environment… I know, Buzz Kill.

So here are some tips on how to let go of attachments while pursuing your goal of finding a partner:

Hold lightly.  The best principle I’ve found for navigating the tension between wanting a goal to manifest and being peaceful is to be intentional, but hold it lightly.

In other words, have a goal, but don’t be so bound by it that you miss out on the opportunity to learn. Take a stand, and be open to surprises and new learning.

If you practice this basic principle over and over again, you eventually develop an instinct for how to assess risk and navigate uncertainty. If you move without clarity about your intentions, or if you hold on to those intentions too tightly, you will likely fail. If you hold onto your intentions too tightly, you miss out on the learning.

Practice letting things be. That doesn’t mean you can’t actively work to create a different tomorrow. It just means you make peace with the moment as it is, without worrying that something’s wrong with you or your life. Learn to operate from a place of acceptance.

Question your attachment. If you’re attached to a specific outcome—a dream job, the perfect relationship—you may be indulging an illusion about some day when everything will be lined up for happiness. No moment will ever be worthier of your joy than now because that’s all there ever is.

Notice. One of my favorite psychologists, Dr. Rick Hanson, talks about being aware of wanting inside your mind. Try to notice the ways in which desiring feels subtly tense or uncomfortable. Notice the emotional pain of not getting what you want, including disappointment, frustration, discouragement-perhaps even hopelessness or despair. Notice the discrepancy between the rewards you expected to get from a want, and what it actually feels like to fulfill it. Similarly, notice that the anticipated pain from the things you want to avoid – especially things that would really be good for you to go after – is usually worse than the discomfort you actually feel.

In the end, the key to being an empowered single, whose experiences are blissful and easy breezy, is to set sail and chart a course of action yet still allow the tides to carry you along.

Ask the Coach: Isn’t Relationship Coaching Nothing More Than Snake Oil?

Ask the Coach: Isn’t Relationship Coaching Nothing More Than Snake Oil?

Ask the Coach Courage Freedom Self Esteem Women

Dear Coach Linda:
Forgive me for being blunt, but what do you think you’re doing here on Meet Up.com, promoting yourself as a relationship coach? You are nothing more than a snake oil salesman, out to make a buck. – Jim

Hi Jim,
I’m curious about how vehemently you are opposed to relationship coaching – I assume stems from your concern about people being taken advantage of, especially those who have recently gone through a divorce and may be feeling vulnerable, hurt, and lonely. If this is true, then I appreciate your desire to protect people from vultures.

But I whole-heartedly disagree with you about relationship coaching being nothing more than snake oil. Here’s why. Continue reading

Becoming a Warrior in service to your life

Becoming a Warrior in service to your life

Courage Freedom Spiritual Laws Success Word to the Wise

Including your love life
And as evidenced by my clients

I’m always curious about human nature – particularly in what motivates and compels us, why some people choose to accomplish and improve their lives and why others simply don’t. I am enamored of the capability to pursue a dream in the face of fear, curious about why some people succeed and others crumble, and even more interested in why others don’t even lift a finger.

This morning, I was reflecting on my clients and their collective coaching experiences from a bird’s eye view, which is the best perspective to see the collective forest as opposed to each individual tree, so that I could deeply understand what drew them into my coaching processes and to see what their common threads were. What is it about my clients that compelled them to take this journey?

As I was ruminating, I noticed they all possess this urgent, critical, and with some, Continue reading

Ladies, it is time to call out the power

Attitudes Courage Dating Freedom Fulfillment Relationships Self Discovery Self-Acceptance Success
wonder-woman

What would Wonder Woman post on Facebook?

As I scan all of the status posts on my Facebook page, I see so many women posting articles about men. Here’s a sampling of what I’ve seen over the weekend:  Seven types of men who will never marry. Nine types of women that men do not want to marry. Why women fall for bad boys. 10 ways to know you’re dating a real man. Creativity, madness and drugs. Does your dog love you back? Oh wait – sorry –  those two are my own. … Let’s move back to the topic, shall we? Continue reading

Yea, though I Walk through the Valley of the Shadow of … Dreams

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((This post originally appeared on my former blog in January 2012. I thought it was worth re-posting since winter always represents, for me, work done in solitude and how difficult that can be.))

Last week I wrote about how “going within” both literally and figuratively to a place of solitude triggered deep residing fears. Indeed my whole physical body was responding – my heart was pounding in my chest like I was running for my life and I was constantly short of breath. No amount of deep breathing exercises was helping. Continue reading