I think the perfect day to visit the concepts of commitment vs attachment is on Super Bowl Sunday. Or even better, the space immediately after the game and into the following several days.
What we will see among friends, family, co-workers, and social media during today’s game, will be an intense desire and commitment for “our” team to win. There will be cheering, shouting at the TV, fist-pumping, jumping up and down, swearing, and laughter all in the spirit of our commitment to the desired outcome–The Win. Most loyal fans will be pulling for their team until the brutal end. If our team wins, life is good. There will be celebrating, and more celebrating, high fives, the consuming of more beverages (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic), overeating (and wishing later that we didn’t overeat and over-consume those beverages). Again, life is good.
This is commitment to the outcome. Give it our all, everything we’ve got to secure the result we want.
On the other hand, immediately following the game, and for days, months, and even years to come, members of the losing team fan club will be angry, and upset. Some will be moved to tears, others will actually feel a sense of depression and loss far greater than the score of the game. There will also be the over-consumption of food and alcohol, and the sense of regret for people wishing they wouldn’t have drown their sense of sorrow and deflation at game’s end. Yes, this is also Deflate-Gate of a different order.
You may be wondering how this all applies to life. If you’re a person who says something like, “It’s just a game,” you are on the commitment side of this and have already moved on to the next thing in your life, probably packing your lunch of leftover super bowl chips, burgers, and pizza for work the next day. If, days later, you are still arguing with people from “the other team,” still carrying on about how upset you are about the game, and still haven’t cleaned up the mess from your Super Bowl party because you can’t let it go, then you are on the attachment side of this question.
Commitment to the outcome we want, be it a great day at work, building lasting relationships with others, having a loving, and joyful marriage, being financially solid, or living a long and healthy life, keeps us focused on what we need to do to achieve these things and more. The amount of commitment needed is equivalent to the intensity of the desired end-game. The more you want something the more commitment you will need to achieve it.
Your commitment to weight loss will involve a diet regimen that works for you. Becoming healthier will mean that you will have to pay closer attention to your eating, exercise, and sleep habits and identifying what causes stress in your life. Having a successful marriage might involve seeking couples therapy or making time to be with your loved one on a consistent and regular basis.
When you don’t reach that thing that you wanted so badly in your life, you have to re-assess your level of commitment to making it happen. If you decide that your energies will be better spent pursuing something else, give yourself a pat on the back, a Super Bowl high five, and move on. If you can’t move on without feeling regret, remorse, or some sense of failure, then you are stuck in attachment to something that just won’t be.
Here are three strategies to put into play as you discover yourself stuck in the “what should have been”.
- Use the Rule of 10. This means that you have to ask yourself if what is upsetting you will affect your life for the next 10 minutes, 10 hours, 10 days or 10 years. If you don’t think it will last that long (10 minutes to 10 days) let it ride itself out. Keep it within the perspective that this too shall pass, and that given a little bit of time the feelings of attachment to what didn’t happen will fade and you’ll move on.
- Recommit. If this unrealized prize is something that is vitally important to your well-being and overall happiness, or success in your life, recommit to it fully and completely. Just realize that you will most likely have to do things differently, choose a different approach, re-evaluate your skills, or get a coach. Let’s face it, if you do things the same way next time as you did before, it ain’t gonna work. Plain and simple. If the unrealized prize was a Super Bowl victory, or some other professional sports win, take heart. I’m pretty sure there will be another season of professional football, basketball, baseball, hockey, golf, soccer, and ice skating. Badminton might not make the list but who knows.
- Be a part of the change. You may have to take on a different role in what is trying to be accomplished, perhaps as a leader, a more involved team member, a devoted parent, a volunteer willing to role up your sleeves instead of being a spectator. Maybe you have to become the coach. I know from my position on the couch, I am a pretty darn good one. If only they would just call me and ask my opinion.
- Let it Go! I know I only said three strategies but practicing the art of letting go can sometimes be very difficult but it might be the most important strategy of all. Plug in your child’s dvd of Frozen or look it up on You Tube, fast forward to where Elsa sings Let it Go and sing along with her at the top of your lungs. This will help. I repeat. This will help. And here is the spoiler alert which might also help you. Bet on Elsa. She and her sister win in the end.
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Gotta go. Game is starting. See you on the flip side. Go Packers! Oh, wait. They lost that stupid play off game where the refs needed new glasses… Oops. I digress. Yay, Team!