The voice on the phone was brittle with tension. “I know I should just let go of this, but I can’t! I really need this to happen.”
“This” was a positive ruling by a judge that my client would be entitled to receive a juicy settlement in a lawsuit he had initiated several years ago.* The amount of money at stake would make a huge and very welcome difference in his financial condition, which had become increasingly…uncomfortable.
My client is a thoughtful and loving man who earnestly desires to live a spiritually conscious life. He understands that letting go of attachment to specific outcomes is a hallmark of enlightenment and wants to be able to experience that freedom.
Yet he also understands that he needs money – and he certainly doesn’t want to send any kind of message to the universe that he doesn’t need money. Wouldn’t letting go of his attachment to a positive outcome in the lawsuit be doing just that?
In a word: No.
But it’s important for him to be clear about what, exactly, he’s letting go of. He’s not letting go of his desire for financial ease. What he’s learning to let go of is the underground belief that, if this specific ruling isn’t in his favor, he won’t be okay.
This may seem like an inconsequential distinction, but I’ve learned that it’s a profound one. Like many people, my client thinks that “letting go” means letting go of his desire for a positive outcome. But as a human being, his natural response to an experience of lack is a renewed desire for abundance. If he lets go of the desire, he lets go of a crucial aspect of his ability to create what he wants, because desire is a potent creative force.
The key is to step beyond his dependency on this particular outcome happening this particular way. That dependency reflects his underlying fear that, if the specific outcome he wants isn’t realized, he won’t be okay.
At first glance letting go of this belief may seem as ridiculous as letting go of his desire for financial ease, because on the surface it seems like a true statement: he’s in financial distress and he needs money. Without money he won’t be able to pay his bills. He won’t be okay.
An exploration of whether he or anyone can, in fact, be okay without money is beyond the scope of this article. And I’m certainly not trying to convince my client that he doesn’t need money. What I want to help him feel is the deeper truth of his ability to create the financial support he needs, whether this specific outcome is realized or not.
I want to support him in letting go of the belief that his experience of financial abundance is dependent upon the judge’s ruling. Would a favorable ruling create financial ease right now? Of course. Would an unfavorable ruling mean that financial ease isn’t available to him? Of course not.
Unless he believes that it does. And that’s the belief he’d be greatly served in letting go of.
He’s being called to a deeper level of trust than he’s ever experienced: trust in an inherently abundant universe, trust in his right to define what an abundantly fulfilled life looks and feels like for him, and trust in his own worthiness and power to create that kind of life. And trust is what makes letting go possible.
I see this as an ongoing aspect of our spiritual growth and evolution – recognizing our fears of not being okay and opening to ever-deeper levels of trust that we are, always and already, okay. We are always loved. We are always supported.
And I’ve found that, often, it’s more helpful to think in terms of cultivating trust than it is to think in terms of letting go, precisely because it’s so easy to get confused about what we’re letting go of.
If you feel attached to a specific outcome and are struggling to let go of that attachment, pause and shift your focus to cultivating a deeper sense of trust about the whole thing. Here are some suggestions for how to do it:
- First, fully acknowledge the fear of not being okay if the specific outcome isn’t realized.
- Breathe. Feel your feelings.
- Acknowledge that the fear arises from an assumption – a belief – not a fact.
- Intend to reach for the deepest truth that you know, beyond the circumstances and beyond the fear.
- Do what you know to do to become more peaceful and grounded (e.g., yoga, meditation, journaling, being in nature, exercising, etc.)
- Appreciate yourself – your talents and creativity and courage and passion and willingness to explore, learn and grow.
- Recognize the essence behind the specific outcome you want. (In my client’s case, the essence of the desire for a positive ruling is financial ease.)
- Remember that there are countless ways for this essence to be realized in your experience. Feel the truth of that.
- Find ways to keep yourself as relaxed as you can and keep listening inward to your own guidance.
This isn’t a linear, step-by-step process, of course. It’s really an intentional expansion of perspective to help you reach a level of consciousness grounded in trust rather than fear. The more you trust, the easier it is to understand that, no matter what, you’re okay.
And from that place, there is nothing to let go of. You are free.
*The client and his circumstances have been created as a composite of many people with whom I’ve had the honor of working – including myself – who have struggled to let go of attachments to certain outcomes.