Detaching

 We can choose our choices but not the outcomes.  That’s a problem for us control freaks.  We want absolute control, guaranteed outcomes before we take any risks, but of course, that’s not possible. No matter how much we plan, the ultimate outcome is beyond our control.  I remember taking the challenge in one of my 12-step books in which the author challenged his readers to predict everything that would happen in the next 10 minutes.  No matter how carefully we plan, we can’t predict the next phone call, person to say hello, bird at the feeder, knock at the door, dropped spoon, car backfire, etc.  While we have no control over the future, we will always have multiple possibilities, more than we know what to do with.  We can choose our choices but not our outcomes.   

When our friends put money down on a Viking River Cruise they had no idea the cruises would be canceled because of Covid, nor that the year things opened up again the water level would be so low the cruises were again postponed.  When we attended our granddaughter’s wedding, we had no idea that her grandfather would have a heart attack two weeks later.  When friends bought a house in the woods, they had no idea that a tree would fall on their roof during a windstorm.  We can choose many things,  but not the eventual outcome.  

It is important to plan.  Living one day at a time does not mean we stop planning and doing our homework. Living one day at a time means investing in the now while we plan rather than projecting so far into the future that we miss all the amazing things happening to and around us.   Even as we plan, we need to hang loose.  Getting too invested in our expectations is one of the quickest ways to become miserable. 

Before attending 12 step meetings I thought detaching meant not caring.  But when we detach, we do not detach from the person or even our activities but from demanding predetermined outcomes.  When we detach, we do what we can, hoping for the best, of course, but not becoming so invested in it that we get angry, depressed, blame others, throw a tantrum, etc. when things don’t work out.  

Detaching is an important life skill, for life becomes heavy and frightening without detaching (investing in hope).  We can only do so much planning.  At some point, we have to let go and let God. When our granddaughter chose to take off with her boyfriend and travel to the US, my first response was worry.  Mistrust.  Everytime I thought about her out there sleeping in her car, roughing it I would get anxious.  Then, I reminded myself that no amount of worry would change the situation.  She was a smart and competent young woman who was making one of her dreams come true.  She was choosing to step out into the unknown.  When the outcome was very different from what she’d expected, she eventually chose to come back home.  When things go as planned life seems to flow smoothly but when the unexpected happens, that’s when the real learning happens.  She came home hurt and disappointed but with no regrets.  A different outcome did not negate all of the wonderful things they experienced as they traveled together.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the courage to know the difference!

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Susan Karppala
Susan Karppala
3 months ago

OOOOH I LOVE THIS! At the ripe old age of 68 I am finally learning to detach. It isn’t always easy, is it? I will say, so far so good. It always seems to have the best outcome. Rather than finding fault, getting angry or blaming, which are all such negative forces it’s always best to leave it in the lap of the Divine! Thank you for this!

Chris Daino
Chris Daino
3 months ago

While gradients is important, if you don’t think big you won’t get very far.

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