When Motivation Turns to Overattachment: How to Let Go of the Result

How can you let go of the result to reduce stress and bring clarity into the process?

People who have their eyes on the prize are generally more motivated and determined to get results. They know what they want, and what lengths they must go to, to achieve their dreams. But there is a limit. When attachment to an outcome turns into an obsession, this is what we call overattachment.

By being over-attached or feeling like you need a particular outcome in order to be happy, you’re stepping backward with your own fulfillment. When you are too attached to a certain result, you become less content with what you currently have and where you currently are.

As many of us have a tendency for motivation to turn into a toxic habit, we’re going to have a look at this issue here. I’m going to share some advice about how you can get over this toxic habit, of getting overattached to things.

What makes overattachment to an outcome toxic?

Sometimes letting things go is an act of far greater power than defending or hanging on.

Eckhart Tolle
Want/desireSome attachmentPositive
Need/desperationOverattachmentNegative
Associations between feelings, attitudes, and the energetic outlet.
Concept art. Silhouettes of businessmen running, with a background of a clock, gears, and a city, representing stress and business.

The desire to have something can easily be exacerbated to an unhealthy extreme. When you want something so bad that everything else loses importance, it becomes an obsession.

People are masters at exaggerating value. The more value you give something, the harder it becomes to give up. We can easily lose our sense of gratitude for the things we have, and those that are truly important in our lives.

Overattachment is a burden. It’s not only a burden, but it doesn’t help you the way you think it does either. When you become too attached to a particular outcome, your perception pivots into a frame of hunger and scarcity.

When you get too attached to something, it creates a sense of contempt, since you don’t have it. This can lead to feelings of desperation, stress, worry, anxiety, panic, guilt, and even depression.

Overattachment subtracts from the experience of attaining something. This is generated from need, and need resonates with scarcity. When you need something, this is a negative energetic outlet, and it will certainly not help you achieve your goals.

Common forms of overattachment

Some common forms of overattachment include getting into a specific university course or particular job, making lots of money, being ‘successful’, or finding a partner. Anything that you really want which you can’t let go of, is considered as overattachment.

When you ‘need’ something, for whatever it may be, you create resistance. Life suddenly becomes a chore because you are so forward-focused, that you forget what’s truly important.

Suddenly a single result becomes the world to you, and it’s blown out of proportion. Everything else loses value as you scrape away towards the intended result, and if you fail, then your entire world comes crashing down.

How can you stop being overattached to a particular outcome?

Breaking the habit of overattachment, silhouette of handcuffs breaking from wrists.

Here are some ideas to help you become less attached to an outcome. I recommend that you follow as many as you can if you find yourself trapped in the thought of what could be, instead of what currently is.

As I have said in many articles, desire is critical. The desire to act is the cornerstone of change. If you recognise an attachment issue in yourself, then first cultivate the desire to change it. The rest will come later.

Lower your expectations

If you’re like a huge amount of people straggling through the world today, you have probably put way too high expectations on yourself. With expectations, you put a lot of pressure on yourself to succeed.

It certainly doesn’t help that society constantly drills it into us. Our educational system has told us since we were kids, that we need to study hard, get a good job, and be better than everyone else.

Likewise, scrolling through the endless bullshit on social media will make you feel like you’re losing the game. It’s especially difficult when everyone puts out a front, and you believe in them. So you want to do better, be cooler, and show others that you’re a winner in life too.

You also need to be realistic. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t try, or that you should give up. All I’m saying is that you shouldn’t be too harsh on yourself, and learn to let go of your expectations. Therefore, if it works out, great! If it doesn’t work out, no worries.

You don’t need to achieve these outcomes that you so desperately long for to be happy, and that’s the truth. In the end, it doesn’t matter what you accomplish, or how well you do. Focus on enjoying the process, instead of achieving something.

Put it into proportion

It’s important to put everything into proportion and look more honestly at your life situation.

No, the world’s not going to end if you muck up and fail some things. Fire’s not going to start raining from the sky. Life will go on as normal, whether you achieve your goals or not.

Part of overattachment is that you put one thing way higher than everything else. If you want to break this toxic habit, you need to recognize that you have mentally built something up to an extreme. This is your own perception, but it certainly isn’t the reality of the situation.

Start balancing the tables by seeing the true value of everything. If you get a nice house and car, it’s not going to make you feel any different, besides the fact that you have a nice house and car.

If you reach your goal of living abroad, learning a new craft, or making something great, it doesn’t mean that you’re going to be any happier than you are now. There will always be other problems that arise, or another stepping stone to get to, once you reach the first.

By looking at it this way, you will find that the outcomes you are obsessing over have been put on pedestals. Stop glorifying a particular outcome by being more rational and logical about it, instead of fantasizing over it.

Prioritize what’s truly important to you

Sometimes, it just takes a good long look at your priorities to give them a shuffle. When you get bogged inside your mind, you might feel like there is much more that you need, than you actually do.

Think about everything in your life, and how much value you get from it all. Do you really need that particular result you want so badly to be happy?

There are other values in life that are either equal to, or more important than your goal. Start thinking about what they are, and what really matters to you in life.

Think about what will make you happy and fulfilled. Don’t just give it a half-assed attempt, but really think about it. If you achieve your goal, what will change? More so, what are you expecting this outcome to change in your life? This is the real question you should be asking.

We tend to think that achieving a particular outcome will solve a deeper underlying issue in our lives.

For example, many people are desperate for a loving partner because they are lonely. Even if they get the partner they dream of, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they won’t be lonely anymore. In this case, these people should be working on their issues with loneliness first and foremost.

The more you dig into your ambitions and goals, the more you realize that you don’t need to ‘achieve’ anything. The highest values such as happiness, freedom, and independence are caused by changing your perception and mentality.

The things that you really want, you can already have. Don’t overcomplicate it.

Accept the worst-case scenario

If you accept the worst-case scenario, then you are going to release a lot of pressure on yourself. By releasing this pressure, will probably actually help you achieve more. Nobody performs at their best when under a lot of pressure, and that stress certainly won’t help you achieve the best outcome.

In order to accept the worst, you need to think about it. Don’t just think about it, plan for it. What are you going to do if your intended outcome doesn’t work out? How will you go about your life, and what is going to change?

Really think about these questions and imagine it as a potential reality. And is it really that bad? Acceptance is a crucial part of letting go and healing. If you accept the worst and go through the motions, you cannot fall down, because you’ve already prepared yourself for that situation.

When you accept the worst-case scenario and understand that the intended outcome may not come to fruition, every small victory will feel like a success. Instead of only having failures, you will only have successes.

Work towards your goal on the side, as a hobby, and enjoy the process. But don’t treat your goal as the main course of your life, as a prerequisite to happiness.

Have multiple backup plans

Keep your goals in front of you and take appropriate steps to achieve them, but don’t make your primary goals the only ones that you have. If you put all of your eggs in one basket, then you’re setting yourself up for disappointment.

To lessen your attachment to a particular outcome, make backup plans. Keep alternatives in mind, in case you don’t get the result you want. Have a plan B in the back of your mind, a plan C, and always have a path to take.

By applying yourself from many different angles, you might not get first place, but you will get a place. If you don’t achieve the outcome you wanted, you still have options.

For example, I would love to be a full-time writer and develop this website into a business. Perhaps it will turn into something great one day, who knows, but I’m not putting all of my hopes and dreams on it.

I’m also an English teacher, and I have a background in Landscape Architecture. I have experience bartending, where I can work anywhere in the world and have fun. Even though I work hard on this, I am not overattached to the outcome. There are other paths I can take if it doesn’t go to plan, and that’s okay.

Cultivate a mentality of optimism

Optimism is a powerful mentality to have, in order to prevent overattachment. If you are positive and forward-thinking, you won’t feel trapped by a particular outcome. Instead of feeling trapped, you will see many different opportunities and roads to take. If one thing doesn’t work out, no worries, there is always something else to do.

Didn’t get that girl, or guy? There are plenty more waiting for you. If you don’t get that particular job, or make it into the course you really wanted, there are always other options to pursue.

Optimism is great in this way as it really opens your mind to possibilities. When you see all of the different paths that you can take, you won’t become too attached to a single outcome. Overattachment comes from a place of scarcity, while optimism comes from a place of abundance.

I understand that being optimistic isn’t so simple, so it’s important to slowly cultivate this mentality over time. Optimism helps with so many different things in life, so it’s well worth investing your time and energy into it.

Learn to be grateful for what you have

One way to beat overattachment is by being more appreciative of your current life situation. When you appreciate what you have, you will stop putting so much emphasis on what you need. Likewise, when you are fulfilled in your own life, you aren’t going to feel like you need to accomplish something more.

When you find yourself obsessing over a goal or dream, remember to bring yourself back to the present. Stop for a moment, breathe. By practicing mindfulness, it helps you to stop thinking about what else you ‘need’ to be happy.

Sometimes you just need to take a step or two back and realize how good you’ve already got it. When you are always thinking about what could be better, you detach from the now. It’s hard to be grateful when you aren’t present.

So enjoy sipping on that coffee, or watching that movie. Enjoy all the moments you share with people. Bring yourself back to the present and learn to appreciate every fleeting moment. The more you do this, the more you realize that you don’t really need anything, and you become less fixated on what could be.

Let go of what you don’t need

Learn to drop things that don’t serve you anymore, and clean out your mental workspace. It’s easy to get sucked into a mentality of always wanting more. Of course, the more you want or think you need, the easier it becomes to get attached.

Work on cultivating a mentality of minimalism, and you will begin to see how much you think you need, that really serves no purpose to you. Instead of looking for the next best thing in your life, learn to gain more value out of everything you have.

It’s easier to cultivate a mentality of needing less in your life when you physically have less. Cutting back and decluttering helps to prevent overattachment, as you are giving ‘things’ less value in life while putting more emphasis on deeper values.

The more you cut back, the more you encourage a better mentality to grow. Declutter, clean up and minimize what you have in your life.

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