Nov 3, 2021

Outcome Independence

Looking at the above image (a melty popcicle) you understand it will eventually end, right? But the real question is, are you really dependent on its fatality, its end, or do you realize that worst case scenario, you can get another popsicle if desired? I’m guessing you chose the later. I understand this situation is trivial and involves little consequence, and hence, the decision is easier.

However, too often I observe in my practice (and life), a continuous vocality of people who rely, or “need” certain outcomes. I see the same patterns portrayed in movies, magazines and other media – when a certain outcome is not achieved, somebody often gets sad, angry, frustrated, and gets down on themselves. By doing so, people often fail to see the unrealized, and possibly unpredicted outcome that did result, which may have other benefits, might suite us better in the long run and might provide us with a new way of viewing something. Or, we shut down, give up, never giving us a chance to learn from every moment and grow. The build-up of these instances over time can demotivate us and cause increased depression/anxiety and loss of self-worth and motivation. This is the process of being dependent on a certain outcome.

The process of not basing your self-worth, your well-being, your happiness, your success on the results of the outcome of a situation, is called outcome independence. What if instead of focusing on problems, potential rejection, loss, we started thinking about solution, options, tactics, strategies? With small changes, we can direct our minds into thinking in more creative ways, discovering additional possibilities and taking advantage of unrealized potential.

Instead of saying: If I don’t get this job, I’m going to stop looking.

Try saying: That would be a great job, but what other possibilities do I have that could even be better? Where might my skills be more appreciated? What if that wasn’t the right job for me, and the universe is looking out for my well-being?

Instead of saying: My depression better be gone by next month if I’m going to do therapy.

Try saying: Although I don’t know if my depression will disappear, I am going to talk openly about my feelings, learn various coping mechanisms and implement new communication skills. Perhaps by learning new tools, I can lessen the impact and decrease the severity of my depressive symptoms over time.

Being more outcome independent might not “fix” everything but, it can help to lessen the anxiety, pressure and obsession we often have over the “way something should be.” Give it a try next time you approach a situation where the outcome is out of your control. You are not defined by the results. You are defined by your ability to learn from the results, implement new ways of caring for yourself, and growing.