Not Yours

None of this is yours. This flash of insight came to me this past Sunday as I was contemplating giving money away. While this insight was spawned by the thought of money, it actually applies to everything in my outer life—material possessions and relationships of all kinds. I was born with nothing, and will leave this world at some point with nothing. Everything and everyone that I “have” for any amount of time in this life is, in essence, gifted to me with which and with whom to create something of meaning and value, to serve, and to enjoy the journey along the way. While I’ve known this truth intellectually for some time, it didn’t really begin to sink in until I got this direct and succinct message from my inner wisdom. And I thought: If nothing in this life ultimately belongs to me, why would I ever worry about losing what isn’t mine to have and to hold in the first place?

As I contemplate this flash of insight, it’s actually rather freeing to realize that nothing is mine. I’ve always believed in the timely manifestation of the right people and circumstances in my life. In that regard, the universe has yet to let me down. Being reminded that I don’t ultimately own anything simply takes my appreciation for the magical mystery of life to a deeper level. More specifically, I can simply relax into the knowing that there’s nothing for me to try to amass or protect from loss. As such, I’m free to focus on truly enjoying who and what flows into my life without expending extra energy in worrying about how to get them or, more importantly, how to hang onto them. My part in the grand scheme of life is quite simply to love and cherish these gifts bestowed upon me for however long they are meant to be with me.

Not your money

Applying this perspective to tap into the financial abundance of the universe, money flows into my life to support my service of others. At the same time, money also provides me with the means to create the joyful life my spirit took on this human body to experience. I don’t follow the school of thought that a caring heart must be a pauper. On the contrary, it’s everyone’s birthright to enjoy true prosperity in this life. This perspective fundamentally challenges the way I was raised to view money. Money was a scarce resource, and there couldn’t ever be enough money saved. As a child, I rarely spent what little allowance I got, but would instead save the vast majority of it. It came from a deeply ingrained learned fear that there would never be enough to keep me safe.

For many years, that bottomless fear fed a tenacious consciousness of lack. In turn, this pervasive energy of lack led to a whole lot of hard work that I still didn’t feel could generate enough financial—and ultimately psychological—security, no matter what the objective signs of my life might suggest otherwise. Money concerns are never really about money anyway. Eventually, I got tired of living with a perpetual underlying worry of not having enough, and spent years working on updating my money beliefs and cultivating a prosperity consciousness. However, I have to admit this: Until I started to internalize that not a single penny passing through my hands is ever truly mine, I didn’t know what being free from the shackles of needing financial security could feel like.

Not your people

Money aside, this flash of insight about non-possession applies to relationships of all kinds as well. It’s a reminder to be mindful of forming expectations of and attachments to people. No matter how long they are meant to walk with me, everyone shows up on my path bearing a gift of some sort—and vice versa. With experience as a guide, each person has something to teach me, or there’s something we’re meant to co-create together. When the purpose for our paths crossing has been served, I can bless and send them off with love and gratitude, just like I’ve written in previous related posts about lessons learned from past significant relationships (Walking Each Other Home and Never the Same Again).

Seeing relationships in this light doesn’t mean that marriage and other long-term partnerships are off the table, nor are all attachments necessarily bad. After all, what are human relationships without emotional attachment? Rather, knowing that we don’t possess anyone or their regard for us is a reminder to form healthy attachments—no matter their lifespan—that are for the sake of expansive co-creation, learning and growing together, while having fun along the way. This is in contrast to needing to hang onto someone to fill a void within or to save us from feeling alone. When we’re attached to expectations that arise out of fear or the need for self-preservation, we box ourselves and our counterparts into a very narrow set of acceptable behavior, which often creates unnecessary suffering for all involved. Fear-based expectations could also trigger various unhealthy relationship patterns and lead to preemptive action that, again, creates pain for ourselves and our counterparts that could be avoided.

http://www.amazon.com/Fools-Rush-In-Matthew-Perry/dp/076780421XTo explain the last point above, let me borrow an example from pop culture. In the movie, “Fools Rush In,” Isabelle was convinced that her husband, Alex, wasn’t truly committed to her, and that it’d only be a matter of time before he’d leave her. Because she didn’t believe she could handle being left, she preemptively left him to avoid what she feared was imminent. In doing so, however, she was no better off, and reeled in pain anyway, while her husband suffered at the same time. That’s an example of how an unhealthy attachment with fear-based expectations produces excruciating suffering that’s unnecessary. Perhaps you know someone who has experienced similar pain as either Isabelle or Alex, that it isn’t just Hollywood fabrication to tug at our heartstrings. I know, because I was Isabelle in my younger days.

Don’t get me wrong, healthy attachments aren’t free of pain. When any significant human relationship faces challenges or ends for any reason, it’d hurt. If someone we love and care about in any capacity doesn’t get along with us or is no longer with us, it’d be natural to feel pain. Whether or not they were ever ours to have and to hold is beside the point. However, if the attachment is healthy, we won’t feel that we’re damaged or rendered less of a person without the relationship. If the attachment is non-possessive, we’re always whole and complete in ourselves through any hurt or grief associated with the relationship.

Not having = Nothing to lose

I hope you’re able to see why I believe it’s liberating to let the knowing sink in that nothing and no one truly belongs to us in this life. To not have means there’s nothing to lose. The more we remember that nothing and no one is ours to possess—and could literally be gone in a flash—the more we can be mindful of not taking for granted anything or anyone that/who graces our lives for any reason, for any duration of time. I’m still letting this all sink in, and I’m sure I’ll forget now and again. Nevertheless, I’m committed to remembering as often as I can. Care to join me?

___________________

Photo credit:
People by water at night: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pilax/84779452/sizes/m/

If you’re new here, welcome! I invite you to subscribe to my blog via email or RSS feed. Simply look for the “Subscribe & Connect” box below.

 

About Alice Chan, Ph.D.

Dr. Alice Chan is passionate about developing conscious leaders and organizations. Her path to serve her life purpose has included being an award-winning Cornell professor and a leader in the corporate world for nearly 15 years. She’s the author of the book, REACH Your Dreams: Five Steps to be a Conscious Creator in Your Life, and creator of the program, 30 Days to Living Your Best Life. All content on this blog and website is her own, not the opinions of her employer.

Subscribe & Connect

Subscribe to blog articles by email, and connect with Alice across the web.

, , ,

10 comments
carol wegenast
carol wegenast

Thanks Alice, I so am in agreement that we have to let people go if they want to. When my marriage ended I spent lots of time regretting and trying to change the unchangable. What a waste of effort. The more I detach from clinging the better I feel. Both in people and in things. See you soon at CLC! Love, Carol

Joy ONeill
Joy ONeill

Great reminder. Not only do many forget this, many are never taught it to begin with. Native Americans, of which I am one, are taught and try to live by this. We are caretakers, not owners. Enjoy what comes, guide the young, live sustainably. Good post, Alice!

Ann-Michele Timmerman
Ann-Michele Timmerman

This is an excellent post, full of wisdom that I try to live every day, but sometimes need a reminder for! Thank you so much for your inspiring words! Ann-Michele

Scott Mabry
Scott Mabry

Such an important reality to embrace and so freeing! We can get so wrapped up in control, possession and wanting life to conform to our wishes that we lose the joy of living. Thank you for this wonderful reminder Alice.

Alice Chan, Ph.D.
Alice Chan, Ph.D.

Thank you, Carol, for adding your perspective, to which I'm sure many can relate. As a divorcee myself, I can certainly appreciate all that comes with not wanting to accept that we weren't to have and to hold, till death us do part, after all. But, in the end, none of it was a waste, even the years spent in the different stages of grieving. The whole experience is an intrinsic part of who I am today, and taught me many things that I wouldn't know otherwise. It's all part of the amazingly grand tapestry of life. Yes, see you soon, Carol! Love, Alice

Alice Chan, Ph.D.
Alice Chan, Ph.D.

Thank you so much for sharing the Native American perspective, Joy, which I've always appreciated. We're just stewards, not owners, of anything in this life. Many blessings, to you, Joy, and great to have you here! Alice

Alice Chan, Ph.D.
Alice Chan, Ph.D.

Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting, Ann-Michele! I clearly needed to be reminded of that, and that's why my inner wisdom spoke to me and inspired me to write this post. :-) We can all remind each other. Best, Alice

Alice Chan, Ph.D.
Alice Chan, Ph.D.

Exactly, Scott, and that's why my inner wisdom gave me the timely prompting to remember what's really mine to tend to and appreciate. Thank you for remembering with me!

Trackbacks

  1. […] to remnants of an old identity was the key lesson to learn here. My recent contemplation of non-attachment helped me to be ready to let go. My academic past is an invaluable part of my journey that has made […]

%d bloggers like this: