I had to accomplish two very challenging tasks this weekend – both involving individuals I love deeply. For one individual, I was called to step into the role of intervener. For the other, I had to walk away. Both situations required tough love, non-attachment and the process of letting go. At some point in our life, with those we love or with whom we minister, all three qualities play an important role.
Tough love is an action of empowerment. Exercising tough love allows us to disengage from a potentially co-dependent relationship and places responsibility where it should lie….on the shoulders of the responsible party. It is very easy for us in our loving relationships and even in our professional relationships to want to be the person to help. Unfortunately, this does not always support the personal responsibility of the other individual. We are each ultimately responsible for our own personal journeys and in exercising tough love, we empower eachother to take responsibility for our lives. It is challenging as a parent, wife, sister, friend to have to be placed in the role of having to exercise tough love, but it is ultimately the only way to ensure personal growth. While we can still remain a source of loving support….it is not our job to do the work that others need to do for themselves.
Non-attachment is a term most frequently referred to in Buddhist circles. Another way to say it is – no attachment to outcome. Non-attachment is an attitude of surrender. It allows us to freely and openly share our gifts…..without an attachment to the outcome. In exercising this attitude….we may act as intervener or empowerer in our professional and personal relationships……while remaining content in knowing that the outcome is ultimately not up to us. Non-attachment allows us to move through life without the emotional dramas that go along with desire. I want my clients to be healed and to find success in their lives, I want my loved ones to have peace, I desire friends to step into their own giftedness. Unfortunately……I have no control over how they move through their own journeys….neither can I control the outcome. If I maintain an attachment to a certain outcome…..then there is sure to be frustration and disappointment. Non-attachment allows us to let go of this ego-desire and surrender the outcome to the other party’s personal responsibility and to “fate.” Non-attachment also allows us to let go of the ego-desires in our own life journey as well.
Letting go………this might be the most difficult of the above attitudes. Letting go requires us to recognize that there is a power greater than ourselves and that we ultimately have NO CONTROL over the outcome of our own lives….let alone the lives of others. Letting go requires TRUST and FAITH and vision that goes beyond the boundaries of our limited egoic perceptions. Can we look beyond what appears to be to something greater? Can we trust that as our loved ones dig a hole deep enough to house the Grand Canyon that there is a greater lesson in this somewhere? Can we trust that their life is not our own and that we need to let go and let them learn their own lessons …. no matter how hard? Can we trust that eventually we all hit rock bottom and will eventually find our way out? Can we let go of our experience, our expertise, our own giftedness and trust that they will eventually find their own source of support……even if it is not us. AAARRRGGGHHH Yea, this might be the most difficult of them all. And….as I type this, I feel my neck and shoulders locking up…..so I guess my hunch is right.
So the invitation today is to look at our life journeys and ask where we are invited to exercise tough love, non-attachment and letting go. As we exercise these virtues….we move closer and closer to our own experience of inner peace.