Here’s my Emailed reply to the question “How do I let go of my attachment to desired outcomes, which leads to my suffering” What do you think?
I strongly support phoning and spending time with other members between sessions [our co-therapists], because this builds closeness, which strongly forwards all our therapeutic goals. So please remember regularly to reach out to other members between sessions for comfort, encouragement & support, to practice and strengthen both your own intimacy skills and actual intimate connection to each other. Bringing all the emotional aspects of outside of group contact between member back into the group allows learning experientially and by discussion in Group, what works, what is less useful, and what doesn’t work to create sustaining closeness with other people.
Talking candidly during Group may sometimes be distressing, but that’s one way of learning how much more alike we are than different. It seems to me, all our Problems will be solved only by our own death – not a solution I’m eagerly anticipating. Focusing primarily on our current set of Issues & Problems is an unpleasantly negative frame for life . It’s possible and way-more useful, comfortable, pleasurable to think about our lives with positive frames – for instance:
1] authentic closeness with a few other compatible, trustworthy people;
2] pleasure in doing good and satisfying work;
3] helping socialize/teach, perhaps raise, some children;
4] pleasure in pursuing personal interests/avocations.
One useful definition of “Problems” is things that Have to be resolved ASAP, or there will be irreversible damage to the Love and/or Work quadrants of life. There are very few “Problems” in our everyday lives — things like: negative addictions to dangerous substances or activities [different from reasonably positive addictions to physical fitness, Yoga or meditation]; physical or emotional abuse or violence; ignoring major health conditions like smoking, diabetes or obesity.
Everything else can be considered “Issues”, for which there are no clear, definitive resolutions, only ways to manage, improve, accept and forgive. We’ll all always have “Issues”, so we can skillfully do our best, then focus on something else, preferably something positive. Human life seems always to involve major unsatisfying aspects, frustration and pain, and venerable spiritual traditions teach that that’s the nature of life – we are imperfect beings who don’t have absolute power over other people & external situations. We can sometimes have up to about 50% control of anything or anyone external — for instance, by definition, an intimate emotional relationship.
Fortunately there’s a huge difference between pain & suffering. Pain is unavoidable; suffering is optional. The two most effective ways I’ve found to reduce and minimize my own suffering are: 1] Do my best to work at controlling what I can control, i.e.. my internal experience – my own thoughts, feelings, behavior and values;
and 2] Let go insistent attempts to control external things and people, since these things are really impossible for me to control, & trying to control the uncontrollable is, at the very least, a major cause of suffering.
I’ll be very interested in how you apply this framework to yourself. Dr Bob