Letting Go of Fantasies and Wishing Things Were Different
Post written by Leo Babauta.
One of the hardest things to let go of, in this Month of Letting Go, is the way we want things to be.
We have fantasies of how our lives could be like, what we could be like as people, what other people should be like, what the world should be like.
These are fantasies, but we rarely recognize them as such. And so it’s hard to let them go, because we want them so.
- I wish I had more muscles and less fat. This might happen eventually, but the truth is, at this point it’s just something I fantasize about. The fantasy isn’t important, it’s just something I want.
- I wish my kids would learn to clean up after themselves. Sure, they might, and maybe they should. But what does should mean? It just means I wish it would be that way. A fantasy. Anytime we hear the word should, we should recognize that as fantasy.
- I wish my day would be slow-paced, with no interruptions, no distractions, no clutter, no rush. Of course, I can make it that way, partly, but there will always be interruptions unless I’m on a mountain with no one else and no electronics. Even then, a bear might interrupt me. Point is, it’s a fantasy.
- You might wish your wife would be more lustful towards you, or your husband would be happy with the level of lustfulness you have for him. And these are definitely things to discuss with your significant other, but in truth, it’s a fantasy. You wish things were different.
Fantasies aren’t necessarily things that will never come true. They might, but that’s not the point. They’re things that we wish would be true. And we hold onto these wishes, these fantasies. And it causes us frustration, anger, anxiety and disappointment when we can’t get them.
So how do we let go?
- Realize that reality, as it is, is amazing. Look around, and see things as they are, and appreciate the beauty of it all, as messy as it might be. Be grateful you can experience it. That includes everyone around you, as they are. That includes you, as you are.
- Realize that when you’re frustrated, stressed, angry, or disappointed, you are holding onto a fantasy. Think about what it is.
- Let them go. Breathe, and release. Smile, and be grateful for what is. Learn to love yourself, others, and all that’s around, as it is right now, without fantasies, without wishing things were different.
If someone else is acting a certain way, is that good or bad? It’s only bad if we wished they would act differently. So tell yourself, “She’s acting exactly as she should, given who she is and her circumstances. She’s doing the best she can. She’s learning, as we all are.”
Well, all of a sudden, you can smile and have compassion for her. You can help ease her pain, or listen to her, or give her space. You can figure out how to act compassionately, and do what you need to do, without getting worked up because she’s not acting the way you wished she would.
All the world becomes OK once you decide it’s OK. When you start wishing it were different, recognize this, and let that wish go. And then say, “It’s OK as it is.”