When things aren’t working out- be it a painting, an essay, a work project, a job, a relationship or just about anything else you have decided to do- it can be frustrating. It is exceedingly frustrating if you have already attached yourself to the idea of a specific thing going a certain way. While there’s beauty in envisioning outcomes, there’s a lot of time wasted in obsession over them! I am not an advocate of quitting, but sometimes you have to let go of your intense grip on how things “should” be to allow things to flow.
I call this tight grip on things “Compulsive Manifestation.” While we do most certainly create our reality, we can’t force things into place exactly the way we see them. Forcing stuff to happen a certain way is not something you do out of joy or happiness. Forcing comes from anger, control, frustration and, yes, compulsion.
I watched a couple in a vegan restaurant fighting last night about going to see a relationship guru so that, in the woman’s mind, their relationship could survive. The woman was wielding a butter knife as an exclamation point as she carried on so loudly and with so much angst that I could feel her every word. We need this! she kept saying. I giggled a little. She said over and over again that they had to do everything possible to save their relationship and this was the only way, and she absolutely knew it. The guy was looking at his phone under the table (hence my giggling) and he nodded unconsciously. The more she pushed, the more he checked out. He said, ” I don’t agree” at one point and she shut him down with her butter knife and her angry tirade in a second. Maybe if they spoke honestly and actually communicated they could find a real resolution?
The same thing applies to creative projects: you can’t force them to go one way. While structure is vital to lots of art forms, it is what happens between the words, in the space between colors, in the totality of sounds, that genius happens. Most artists I know who I admire tend to pray for accidents to happen in their art work. In the state of being completely in surrender to the process of art making, open as a channel for the energy running through them, they create their best work. Once you see an artist trying to re-create and force those moments, everything falls flat.
In business, people get really precious with their ideas. I had friends continue to dump money- huge amounts of money- toward an idea that had no traction. Rather than stay in the same realm and try a new idea, or get some perspective and see how to transform the idea into something viable, there was a wild obsession with making this one idea happen as they wanted it to happen. Surprise: it didn’t work.
How do you know if you are holding on too tightly to outcomes?
Here are a few ways that come up again and again in my work & life:
- You are one big mood swing.
- You get overly anxious thinking about how to approach this area of your life.
- You are living by the words of “experts” and ignoring your feelings.
- You are asking psychics and oracles for advice (and won’t stop until you hear what you want to hear!)
- You really don’t enjoy this part of your life now even though you used to very much; it has become a joyless “job” and you want to “perform” in it.
- You realize something isn’t working out as it is going along and you become very rigid about making it go one way (your way!) even if it feels terrible to do it.
How do you stop the obsessing?
It is different for everyone. I spend time in nature… hiking, usually. You can volunteer your time and shift your focus to helping others. Take a real break from the magnificent frustration, and remember why you loved whatever it is and why you wanted it in the first place. These are all things seem simple ideas, but they seem to help a ton.
This video is a little story I heard that that rocked my world and helped me to find my way back to joy in areas where I felt I was trying to force myself to be who I wasn’t in order to “achieve.” It’s a pretty awesome story, if I do say so myself!
Instead of trying to hold onto things that aren’t working, loosen your grip. Let life happen. There’s no shortage of things that will work if you are patient and open! xoxo Dana
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