Non-attachment means is to not be connected to a specific outcome. To not gett so emotionally involved you can’t tell the difference between what you can actually control or affect. Non-attachment means focusing on working towards a goal you really want, but having the willingness to roll with the outcome if it’s different than what you envisioned.
It also means understanding that when this happens, it’s not “failure”, and/or letting our emotions control our chosen reaction to what’s happened. Or what hasn’t happened.
The temperament we choose (note that word) to have in any situation greatly affects how things unfold.
This is true for any situation—whether it’s your drive to work or a moment when life hangs in the balance. You can still have emotions (disappointment, frustration, anger—fear) as you work towards a goal. Non-attachment allows you to remain solution-focused/-oriented.
The more mindful we are, the better we can practice non-attachment, and the more non-attached we are, the more mindful we can be.
But non-attachment doesn’t mean not caring.
This is why I prefer “non-attachment” over “detachment”. “Detachment” tends to carry the idea we have to disassociate from our emotions fully (impossible) and move into not caring.
Think of the difference between a physician who’s detached as apposed to non-attached. Detachment can inadvertently create a mindset of not having awareness of how our actions are affecting other people, of not acknowledging other people and perhaps their pain. Non-attachment means you’re separating yourself from a situation, volatile or otherwise, but you still have empathy and compassion—with the mindfulness that too much compassion begets a lack of non-attachment.
Basically, non-attachment is about balance.
It’s about allowing yourself to have emotions, but remain in control. (Detachment can sometimes lead to resistance to emotions overall. We’re human. We will always have them. But we can learn how to have them but remain in control.)
Since you’re human and you can’t shut off your emotions, non-attachment allows you to acknowledge them, but then continue on despite them. It also allows you to have even very strong emotions (eg fear and anger), but still be able to operate in a mindful way.
Of course, things can wear that ability down at times. Fatigue, illness, emotional overload. But if we train ourselves to have mindfulness, we can still even be fatigued and make rational decisions despite those emotions.
You can’t have non-attachment without mindfulness, and it’s difficult to have mindfulness without non-attachment. Working on them both allows you to have empathy, as well as to understand what you can control and what you can’t.
As long as you remain as mindful as possible, you remain a position to make the best decisions and choices you can.
Will they turn out to be mistakes? Possibly, yes. But you’re less likely to make mistakes with mindfulness and non-attachment. You’re also better able to keep going and try again if the outcome is a “failure”.
But also keep in mind that “failure” is subjective. Just because a specific desired outcome didn’t happen, it doesn’t mean there was “failure”. As in the goal is broken. An example of that is Apollo 13. The mission to the moon “failed”, but not out of any mistakes anyone made. That’s why it was deemed a “successful failure”.
Failure also depends on how we choose to view the outcome.
That’s why it’s subjective. And why we can learn from a failure. The first draft of my latest novel is a “failure” in the sense it didn’t pop out of me perfectly-written. I’ve tried things that didn’t work out when I wanted them to, but, at the end, there’s a choice to be made: Try again from a different angle, or let it go. It’s okay to let something that didn’t work out go, whether or not mistakes were made. It’s even okay to try something once and let it go.
Success, therefore, is more connected to our non-attachment to having a specific outcome.
If we get it, great! If we don’t get it, but it’s better—yes! This is why Joe Vitale encourages people to say, “This or something better”. This allows people to see an outright success as a failure if it doesn’t match up to the expectations perfectly.
Questions? Comments? Email me at heather (at) smallchangelife (dot) org or drop by my Facebook page and leave me a message, leave a comment below or feel free to start up a conversation in the discussion forum.