What Happens When You Get Overly Attached to an Outcome? Hint: It Gets Ugly and Messy!

In order to successfully manifest something, you must remain unattached to the outcome, yet hold the vision of what you’re manifesting in a place of focused truth.  This is a delicate balance to strike!  I made a big mistake around this recently and it cost me a 24 hour period of real suffering and pain.  

Many of you know I’m working on a book proposal.  I’ve been told I need a strong platform to be considered by agents and publishers and since I cannot create a twitter following of 30,000 people overnight, I thought I’d try for another avenue – asking famous authors if they’d consider giving me an endorsement or blurb for book.  Last summer, I started searching for public speaking events where I could meet the authors I had in mind.  I found out my top choice was speaking at the Pennsylvania Women’s Conference on October 3rd so I considered buying a ticket to the event.  Then one day, I woke up out of a deep sleep and felt struck with an intuitive hit to “BUY MY TICKET” immediately!  I got out of bed and registered for the conference half asleep and then thought about the details like flight and where I was going to stay afterwards!  But it felt so “right!”  I thought – this must be a sign?  A few days after I registered, they announced Michelle Obama would also be a keynote speaker at this event and suddenly within hours, all of the 12,000 tickets were sold out!  I felt even more convinced that this was a real sign!  I got my ticket early, then it sold out – I was meant to meet this author!!  I thought I will really get to meet her and this must mean she will consider an endorsement or blurb and if I get that….my proposal will be accepted and I’m on my way to a successful book!  Right?  WRONG!  

I began to get attached to this idea as the means to my success.  I put more faith in this potential meeting than I did in my own hard work.  I started to slide into magical thinking around this and became very attached to the outcome.  This entire theory was also based on several assumptions.  I assumed since she would be a keynote speaker and they had “author signings” listed on the agenda, and since her latest book just came out, logically she would be at a book signing table at some point.  I assumed, even though 12,000 people are going, that I’d be able to get in line before they cut it off and I’d meet her.  I assumed when I met her, we would have a great heartfelt connection and she would agree to reviewing my book for an endorsement and blurb and I assumed all of this also meant that I would also be successful someday – just like her!  

Assumptions can be very dangerous.

Last week as I was starting to think about this upcoming trip to Philadelphia, I decided to reach out to the organizers of the event to find out more about when and where this author would be signing books so I could be sure to be first in line.  They wrote me back “I’m so sorry, but she has not agreed to a book signing despite our efforts and requests.”  I was stunned!  How could this be?  I felt so misguided and betrayed by my own intuition and vision of this serendipitous hypothetical meeting.  My response really shocked me!  I consider myself fairly grounded and centered.  I don’t crumble easily.  I pay close attention to my inner workings and thoughts on such a regular basis that emotional reactions rarely catch me off guard.  I can predict them coming and tend to try to stay very insightful and ahead of the curve.  But when I read that email, I actually burst into spontaneous sobbing!  I cried hard.  So uncontrollable, my kids came downstairs and wondered if I had just heard horrible news about someone dying or an equally devastating tragedy.  I couldn’t clean it up immediately or hide my response.  I surrendered to the reaction and let myself have it.  

I fell into a deep, painful story that this must be another sign – but this time it meant I won’t be successful. That I should just give it up. That maybe this meant I should just quit and throw in the towel at this point.  “Who are you to think you’ll ever write a book that is any good.”  “Why don’t you just quit now while you’re ahead Meg?”  “You and 50 million other people out there probably all have the same idea and why would your book in your voice matter or be worth the enormous effort to get there?”  It went on from there and I landed in shame.  I felt like a complete idiot!  And for about 24 hours, I was weepy and fragile.  I didn’t want to do anything.  I didn’t feel hopeful.  I wanted to quit everything!  Quit the book proposal, quit writing, quit trying to be a good therapist.  I even wanted to quit running my house!  I wanted to quit making dinner, quit cleaning up, quit being a cheerleader for my family. I went pretty low!  I tried to go to work the next day, but felt completely preoccupied with a whirlpool of swirling negative thoughts that wouldn’t loosen their grip.  

I went home early and really let go.  I allowed myself to cry more and I served myself a generous mug of double chocolate ice cream leftover from my son’s birthday party.  I sat in the privacy of my patio, ate the ice cream, cried a little more and wiped my mouth and my tears with my hands resulting in a mess of chocolate and mascara all over my fingers which lead me to start laughing.  I giggled at the poetic cliche!  Here I was, having a 24-hour pity party over a broken dream from a hypothetical attachment to an outcome that I was never guaranteed.  It’s absurd.  But it happens.  We all go there.  From time to time, we get overly attached which ultimately ends in suffering if we’re not careful.

I considered what would make it better.  I dove into my own self-care toolbox and decided I needed to re-boot.  I needed more sleep, I booked an incredible massage to support my body in releasing and healing, and I let go of my intense level of expectations I put on myself for the time being.  I also moved through this quickly because I surrendered to it without judgement.  I allowed myself to ride this wave without trying to stuff it, move it, clean it up or correct it before I was really ready to move on from it.  I’m still going to the conference on Oct. 3rd.  I’m actually really excited to be part of it!  I can’t wait to hear all the speakers and be inspired by their presentations.  I can’t wait to hear what my favorite author has to say, even if I never get the chance to meet her!

I have shifted from a rigid idea of the attachment and outcome I had hoped for to a deep state of surrender and just deciding to be present to what is when I get there vs. what I thought it would be.  Who knows, when we stay open and unattached, sometimes magical things happen.  I’m in a state of belief now that however this process unfolds will be exactly the way it is meant to be.  I moved out of shame and into resilience.  From hopeless to hopeful all because I made a conscious choice to observe, allow, release, support and surrender.  


  1. Kathy Janowski

    Good stuff! Thank you for always being so transparent and vulnerable! You are an inspiration 🙂

  2. Wow does this ever resonate with me. A good friend of mine reminds me that expectations lead to problems more often than not and that I need to not set any, It is very difficult to do yet, you are exactly where you are supposed to be at this time with the book. Who knows, maybe there is someone else that will take you higher and beyond your prior expectations. I look forward to hearing about it.

  3. It is a great motivator to set goals for self, but you also need to prepare yourself for the outcome. I worked really hard to increase my productivity, as the result was a huge raise. I achieved this goal, and for some unknown reason, I was overlooked for this raise. I was devastated for 2 weeks.

  4. Megan, this was so helpful! I’m sorry to find it so refreshing that you too are human! Thank you for leading by example, especially through resilience, which is a specific struggle for me.
    You continue to be an inspiration:)

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