Don’t be attached to the outcome

Last Sunday, we arrived at church early so I could make some copies. Turns out the copy machine wasn’t functioning properly, so I made my way to the chapel 10 minutes before the meeting was to start. My kids were arguing about who was going to sit where in the pew. My girls were being very mean to each other despite my pleading with them to be kind, so I grabbed my stuff and left.

As I was walking down the hall, I felt immensely sad. I was sad that my 15 and 12 year old girls can’t be nice to each other at church. I didn’t know where to go so I went out to sit in my car. I felt myself at the brink of tears, but I didn’t want to cry and walk back into church with red, puffy eyes. #resistingemotion

As I was sitting there in the car, I was searching my brain for why I was feeling so sad. My kids are mean. They’re old enough to behave better. I must be a terrible mother. It’s just sad. That’s where my brain was going. But WHY? Why did I feel like it was so sad? Eventually I arrived at the thought This is not how I wanted them to turn out.

And then I remembered something I had heard recently that has stuck with me: Don’t be attached to the outcome. And I am so attached to the outcome with my kids and it is causing me suffering. When I find evidence that the “outcome” might not be the way I had envisioned, I am sad, disappointed, and sometimes angry. And they haven’t even arrived out their outcome yet!

Photo by Andrew Seaman on Unsplash

What if they are just on their own journeys and arguing and being mean at church is just part of their learning experience? What if them being mean to each other has nothing to do with me or my ability in motherhood? What if this is totally normal behavior and my brain is thinking that it is unreasonable?

I think the reason we should not be attached to the outcome, whether it is in parenting or business or anything else, is because we don’t have 100% control over the outcome. We only have control over the effort we put forth toward the outcome. In the case of relationships, another person’s agency is at play, so we may have very little control over the outcome. When we are unattached to the outcome, our only job is to decide how we want to show up. What kind of person do we want to be, regardless of the outcome?

I did return to the chapel, just in time to sing There Is Sunshine in My Soul. There was not sunshine in my soul, but I knew it wasn’t because of my kids or their behavior, but because of my thoughts and my subconscious attachment to how they would turn out.

In what way are you attached to an outcome in your life that is causing you suffering? I would love to hear about it in the comments!