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Putting My Oxygen Mask on First – Attachment to Outcomes

 “He who stands on tiptoe

doesn’t stand firm.

He who rushes ahead

doesn’t go far.

He who tries to shine

dims his own light.

He who defines himself

can’t know who he really is.

He who has power over others

can’t empower himself.

He who clings to his work

will create nothing that endures.

If you want to accord with the Tao,

just do your job, then let go. “ Lao Tzu

I’ve been focusing on letting go of my attachment to outcomes (and pushing my own agendas). It’s hard. I love to take credit when things go well – it helps silence that little girl in me who feels like she isn’t enough. And when things don’t go well, I am always quick to blame myself and look at what I could have done to get a different outcome. I don’t have a choice though – my kids are both finishing their senior year of high school. According to numerology, I am also in Year 7 – the year of surrender.


Reflection on how our actions played into a outcome is a good thing. It helps us determine whether we have hidden intentions or limiting beliefs that we haven’t uncovered. But there is a difference between reflection and attachment.


But I’m being arrogant to even think I can correctly identify whether an outcome is “good” or “bad” to begin with. I don’t have enough perspective to truly know what is the highest outcome for the greater good of all as illustrated by my favorite story “The Farmer’s Luck” shared in the children’s book Zen Shorts by Jon J. Muth.

There was once an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years.

One day, his horse ran away.  Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit.

“Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically.

“Maybe,” the farmer replied.

The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it two other wild horses.

“Such good luck!” the neighbors exclaimed.

“Maybe,” replied the farmer.

The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown off, and broke his leg.

Again, the neighbors came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune.

“Such bad luck,” they said.

“Maybe,” answered the farmer.

The day after that, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army to fight in a war.  Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by.

“Such good luck!” cried the neighbors.

“Maybe,” said the farmer.

So what am I doing to let go? I’m starting with awareness – using meditation and mindfulness to realize when I am caught up in my own agenda or attached to outcomes. Awareness gives me an opportunity to shift my behavior.


I’m listening to my body – whenever I’m trying to control things I tighten my shoulders and upper back. If I am not aware enough to sense that tension, I have a knot by my right scapula that will send me a louder message reminding me to “let go”.

I’m also using all of my tools. I needle and/or apply essential oils on acupuncture points that support the realization of my enoughness as I am regardless of outcomes. If you have been wondering why I smell like I bathed in Wintergreen lately, Wintergreen is the Oil of Surrender (and it helps relieve that neck/shoulder/upper back tension). I start each day with a surrender prayer. I recite the “I do my best to surrender and let the Divine lead the way.” affirmation every time I get reminders to be in flow (or that I’m not in flow). I listen to a version of Om Namah Shivaya by Cari Grossman. I also am going to add more yin yoga into my life to practice accepting what is in the moment and surrendering to it.




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