Tuesday, May 15, 2012

When Caring Too Much Gets in the Way

Caring too much about results leads to excess tension.  This seemed to be the theme of the week with my Alexander students at the University of Cincinnati, and it seems to be the theme of the week for me now.

What happens when we have a goal and we try too hard to attain it?  Tension.
What happens when we strive too much and drive ourselves with excessive ambition?
What happens when we care too much about the quality of our results?  Tension.
What happens when we care so much that we get stuck and can't move forward?

If you find yourself feeling frustrated as you aim and work towards a goal, stop for a moment and consider how important the goal is to you, and its deepest meanings.  The more important the goal seems to you, the more likely it is that you want it very much and are intensely focused on trying to attain it.  Trying too hard creates stress and too much muscular tension in your body, which makes achieving your goal more difficult, and sometimes impossible.

Here's an experiment. Think of a specific goal you have in your life that tends to frustrate you.

  • What if you were to lighten up a bit, and entertain the thought, "I don't care whether I ever achieve that goal or not"...while still keeping the goal in mind.  Even if it's not true (because you clearly DO care), can you try the experiment just for one moment, just to see what it might feel like to not care at all?  After the experiment, you can always go back to caring a lot.
  • With a light touch, can you simply be aware of the idea of your goal as something separate from what you think you must do to get there?  
  • Can you see the goal not as a point which excludes all other points in the universe, but simply one point, in front of you and above the horizon, in the midst of an infinitude of other possible points, even those behind you?  
  • Can you keep your goal in your awareness, and yet pay more attention to the whole, which includes you and everything else?  
  • Now, can you pay more attention to the immediate task, the next small baby-step which will inevitably take you one step closer to your goal, without caring one bit about the goal itself?
  • Can you find tiny bits of joy in successfully accomplishing the tiniest bits of each step?  
  • Can each tiny bit of joy be a reward in itself, keeping you on track?

This kind of bigger vision takes the pressure off.  "Not caring" about the goal is not about giving up the dream or the hope or the faith that eventually you will get there; on the contrary, it's about trusting that you will get there if you do what it takes in whatever time it takes, without creating excess tension by pushing yourself to get there too soon, too quickly.  It's about feeling the joy and sense of accomplishment in tiny little baby steps...each one is a miracle.  If you can really see and feel that deeply, then it truly won't matter if you achieve the result you wanted or something else equally wonderful--or even better--instead, because what we want deep down truly IS joy itself.

Helpful thoughts:
  • I have a clear vision of my goal.  I know what I want.
  • I know where I am and where I want to go.
  • I know what steps I need to take to get me to my goal.
  • I trust that this plan makes sense, and I am committed to following the steps.
  • I have time.  I am not in a rush.
  • I don't care about the outcome of this process.
  • I don't care about whether I reach my goal or not.
  • I am aware of the big picture, all the points in space everywhere, not just my goal.
  • I am focusing on just one step at a time, enjoying myself, and trusting.

I would love to hear about your experiences.  What happens when you care too much?  What happens when you try too hard?  What happens when you stop caring, when you let go?

*photo by <p><a href="http://www.freedigitalphotos.net">Image(s): FreeDigitalPhotos.net</a></p>

No comments:

Post a Comment

Your comments are welcomed with an open mind and heart.