We have a friend who complained about his stock market losses in the last few weeks. He focused on his dream of a larger retirement check, rather than the comfortable retirement he now has. We have another friend who is planning her perfect vacation, insisting that if she doesn’t get an ocean-view hotel room, her vacation will be ruined.
We too find ourselves, at times, attached to our ideas about what we want.
How do you let go of your compulsions and fixations that control you? Can you learn to, as the saying goes, let go of the destination and enjoy the journey?
A Zen proverb sums it up nicely: “Let Go or Be Dragged.”
If you cannot learn to let go, then each time you become overly attached to an idea, expectation or a situation you are at risk of being dragged into the Victim mentality and the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT) ™.
Why is it called a Victim mentality? Because your ego-centric Victim voice has convinced you that you’ll never be free of the idea or thing until it is “just right.” In other words, you are powerless because you have given that power to external circumstances.
If you need things, situations and people to fit into a predetermined box, you will come up with all kinds of excuses about why it must be a certain way. It may be small things, moment to moment, that can especially drive you crazy if you can’t learn to let go of having things fit a particular mold.
The compulsion behind this human trait is the small self, or ego-mind, that wants certainty—-that wants things to be the way they are supposed to be. If whatever you are trying to control doesn’t happen the way you expect, the stage is set for drama, attachment and eventually disappointment.
Letting go begins by noticing when the ego-mind tries to take charge. It also requires that you observe the suffering that your attachments are causing you, otherwise there will be little motivation for you to let go.
Notice when you are attached to something—maybe it is an idea, a person or situation that you feel should be other than it is. Here are a few steps to consider:
- Stop whatever you are doing and take a deep breath. Ask yourself, “What in this moment am I demanding?” Reflect upon what you are clinging to. Try to identify and name it.
- Loosen the grip on what you are trying to control. Simply by being aware of the thoughts that have a hold on you, you may immediately experience a loosening of this grip. Once you “see” the fixation, you are creating distance between you and “it.”
- Look for the humor in your need to control. If you can laugh at yourself, there’s a greater chance you are letting go.
- Once you have relaxed, notice if there is a higher purpose or outcome that emerges. Shift your focus to what it is that you care about that has you wanting to control the situation. The ocean view hotel room becomes less important than simply having a room near the ocean that allows you to relax and enjoy your vacation.
Remember that if you don’t learn to let go, you will be dragged—dragged into the drama of control, fixation and suffering. This isn’t an easy practice, especially when your attachments involve people or situations that are close to you personally.
Learning to let go is a life journey and, if practiced, will allow the Creator in you to emerge. Life becomes easier with a lot less drama.