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.

Some examples:

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?

  1. 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.
  2. Realize that when you’re frustrated, stressed, angry, or disappointed, you are holding onto a fantasy. Think about what it is.
  3. 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.”