What do you think when you hear the word ‘attached’? More likely than not, you think of it as a good thing. If you had a secure attachment to your caregivers as a child, you developed self-esteem and a sense of security. Those who are in a relationship tend to identify themselves as ‘attached’.
However, attachment also has a down side—especially when you develop an attachment to how you think things should go.
Here’s an example: you’ve put a lot of effort into a big project at work. You’ve spent time outside of regular hours, and on the weekends, and you think you’ve done a great job. As you get ready for work the morning you are to give your presentation, you think about the admiring looks on your colleagues’ faces. You imagine how proud your boss will be of you and how this will probably lead to a promotion, or at least land you as the head of the next big project that comes up. You’re filled with happy anticipation as you set up in the board room and then excitedly give your presentation. When you finish, you look around the room. No one seems impressed. Afterward, not one person comments on all your hard work and the only acknowledgement you get from your boss is a two-line email the next day pointing out a couple of issues you need to work on.
What is your reaction? Since you were imagining all the positive responses you would get, you’re likely devastated. Not only do you feel like all your hard work was for nothing, you probably are also resentful and hurt that no one seemed to think your presentation was as good as you thought it was. To put it bluntly, you feel like a huge failure. What’s the problem here?
The problem is that you were so attached to the outcome of outside validation that you guaranteed you’d be unhappy with anything less. This is the crux of why being attached to outcomes and external validation is a dangerous way to go about life. Here are four ways attachments to outcomes hurt us:
Your Efforts Are Often Negated
You can never guarantee how someone will react to anything in this life. No matter how hard you work on something or how much you try, once you put it out in the world, it is completely out of your control. If you are attached to the outcome, you don’t put any stock in the effort—you put it all in the outcome. Recall the example of the big project from above. If that person had told themselves, “I worked really hard and I’m super proud of all my effort whether my colleagues and boss agree or not”, they would not have been nearly as devastated.
Trish Cody has over 20 years of experience consulting with some of the world’s top Fortune 500 Companies. Today, as an ICF and iPEC Certified Coach and Energy Leadership Master Practitioner, Trish works with clients to uncover their core values and beliefs, clearly see how they are showing up in their behaviors and impacting their success, and to shift their thinking to naturally attract positivity and success. For more information, visit www.TrishCody.com.