Detach yourself from outcome dependency

mental health productivity Dec 13, 2023
Detach yourself from outcome dependency

A few posts ago, I talked about walking the middle path. One of the key concepts to do this is to detach yourself from outcome dependency. This is a skill that not a lot of people have, as many people are taught to focus on a specific outcome and if they don't get it they stress about it. A prime example of this is how students react to getting a few questions wrong on a test when they otherwise performed well.

The steps to follow to achieve outcome independence are:

  1. See the two sides
  2. Plan for the worst & hope for the best
  3. Take aim, fire, then reflect

 See the two sides

Have you ever been in a situation where you don't know what to do? You feel overwhelmed because you think there are way too many things you could do and can't decide on one. The funny thing about these situations is they only really have two types of outcomes and they're easy to prepare for.

Far too many people get analysis paralysis because they feel overwhelmed by the number of options they perceive to be available. In reality, there are only really two options.

Either something goes your way or it doesn't. The specifics for each will depend on the situation, but based on this we can determine what we want from each and how to handle them.

More often than not, people get stuck because they don't know how they'd handle falling short. They'd rather than mess up, so they stop themself from potentially making a mistake.


To detach yourself from outcome dependency, you need to realize that there aren't that many sides to a situation. The sooner you realize this, the sooner you can let go.

Most people who are dependent on outcomes aren't able to let go of potentially not getting what they want. They are unable to accept falling short.

By realizing that a situation either goes your way or doesn't, you can easily reframe your perception to better suit your sanity. 

Detach yourself by hoping for the best & preparing for the worst

When the pressure is on, we default to our highest level of preparation. The reality for most people is that they are unprepared. They have no plan for what happens when things don't go their way, so when things don't go their way they're screwed.

To properly calibrate once you've seen both sides, you need to have a plan for both outcomes. You need to know what you'd do if things go your way and what you'd do if they don't.

Knowing what you'd do if things do go your way can be harder than the other. Too often, we are focused on the outcome and not on what comes after.

Remember that the reward is in the journey, not at the destination. The journey is where the lessons and the enjoyment are found the most. The destination is often where you ask the question "What now?" the most.

As for when things don't go your way, the main tenet to keep in mind is to not lose control. 

Too often, we get too upset when things don't go how we want. As long as you don't let yourself lose control, you will be fine.

To detach yourself from outcome dependency, you need to plan for both sides of a scenario. By having an idea of how you'd handle each, you become less attached to any particular outcome.

The people who have trouble with this are the ones who are taking too many factors into account. The only key factors here are what you want and how you handle getting it or not getting it.

Don't add any more factors. Most of the time, they aren't helpful and only serve to cloud your decision-making. Plus, if the situation includes other people, 99% of the time they will exert their own will so you don't have to take it into account. And in the situation they don't exert their will, you can give them an opportunity to do so.

Take aim, fire, and then reflect on how it went

Knowledge is only potential power. It's useless if we don't put it to use. The same can be said for your experiences. If you don't glean a lesson from your challenges in life, then they may as well be useless. 

Once you've got your plan, there's not much else to do but to take action and then reflect on the result. More often than not, we forget to reflect and thus lose valuable lessons.

There's not much to be said about taking action, so let's talk about reflection. Either we don't reflect or we do, and the times we do reflect it's because somebody else told us to.

This process of detaching from outcome dependency hinges on your reflection on the action you take after your preparation. This is for two main reasons.

First, by reflecting on your experiences you are showing yourself that you won't die if you don't get the outcome you want.

As ridiculous as this sounds, it's the main reason you may fixate so hard on a specific outcome. We believe that if we fail, we are as good as dead.

The reality couldn't be any further from the truth. By taking bold action and then reflecting on it, you will often find that it's enjoyable and exciting.

The second reason is that this reflection will reinforce the type of action you took, so the next time you find yourself in a similar situation it's easier to do it.

The more we do something, the easier it becomes to do. When it comes to detaching from outcome dependency, the goal is to make things as effortless as possible.

By taking the time to reflect and state to yourself what you did that you are proud of and what you did that you believe you can improve, you are telling your mind what to keep in mind for next time.

Too many people go through life blind. They never stop to smell the roses or to admire the skies and they wander like a zombie.

By reflecting on what happens in your life, you are opening yourself up to further improvements and lessons you would have otherwise missed out on.

Detach yourself from outcome dependency for inner peace

As long as you rely on specific outcomes, finding lasting peace will be very difficult. Yes, some turmoil is expected as a part of life, but constant turmoil is just torture.

Most people live in this state where they're in between. They haven't found inner peace, but life isn't on the rocks.

By taking the time to become outcome-independent, you are equipping yourself with the tools for inner peace and lasting progress.

- Karl