Letting Go of Outcome

Scent of Cedar *

Well-Known Member
Oh for heaven's sake, here I am replying to my own thread first again. But this is what happened around posting this thread: I found myself explaining how beneficial it would be for us to discuss how this not focusing on outcome thing works. In other words, I was painting a picture of how this all had to look even where this thread is concerned.

So focusing on outcome, or judging our performances or value based on outcome must be something we do so automatically we don't even see it.

No wonder we feel so terribly about what is happening with our kids.

We are judging from outcome, trying so desperately to figure out where we went wrong because it doesn't look like it's supposed to.

Sometimes, we battle away at whether doing what we need to do to change the patterns evolved over time as we deal with our difficult child kids means we still get to love them, still get to call them to just say "hi", still get to enjoy the times before things went so wrong or not.

So, isn't that something. (Cedar said, stifling herself before she can write anything more about how all this should look.)



While I understand the concept of focusing on the process rather than the outcome, I'm really ambivalent about it.

The process sucks. The process means not knowing whether my son is dead or alive right now, knowing that if he is alive he is on heroin, and fearing that we'll end up losing this war.

On the other hand, I can see how focusing on the outcome too much can blind me as to how to manage the process. I don't know what to think about this. Maybe we need to find a way to strike a balance between process and outcome. Either way, I hate this situation.


Well-Known Member
If you take "focus on the outcome" to the extreme, you get "the end justifies the means". Which is where some of "our" kids are at. And where I never want to be.

Therefore... process matters. But process doesn't guarantee outcome. Guess what? putting the focus on the outcome doesn't guarantee the outcome either.

I am (just starting to) learn how to re-define the outcome. Not "difficult child being healthy" but "difficult child being as healthy as possible", for example. Then... I can focus on the process, because the outcome is defined as "fuzzy". Anything toward that goal is positive.

And yes, I'm a process person. The process HAS to be right. As in absolutely right. Which gets me into a LOT of trouble ;)

Scent of Cedar *

Well-Known Member
The process means not knowing whether my son is dead or alive right now, knowing that if he is alive he is on heroin, and fearing that we'll end up losing this war.

There is so much, so unbelievably much pain for you, and for us all, Rina.

I don't know whether this will be helpful, but I can tell you what happened to us. That's really the only thing I know anything about, of course.

What happened to us.

The worst things did come to pass. It had been a process of so many years. When our daughter fell again, it went so fast. Unbelievably worst case scenarios came true one after the other. And then, a medical diagnosis indicating multiple organ failure.

It became a matter of time. Not a question of whether, but a certainty.

And the only thing that mattered to me then was gratitude that we had had her in our lives at all. To hear her laughter, to hear her voice ~ man, that simple thing made me so happy, so grateful, once I truly got it that the battle was over and I had lost. Whatever it was I had been carrying around in the way I was seeing my child dropped away, and I was then free to love her without all that cloudiness and poison in the air.

And that is what I felt.

Love for her, gratitude that I had known her, compassion for her.

Compassion for us, and a dawning...I don't know. It was like I started telling myself the truth about how bad it was and had been.

That was where the compassion for myself and for all of us came in, I think.

With compassion for all of us, for everything we'd been through, for the betrayals of extended family and of friends who turned vicious and judgmental...in admitting that stuff, I began to feel pride.

Isn't that something.

Pride, not shame.

I couldn't believe we had all made it through, couldn't believe how much love there was there, still, between all of us.


Our children begin to lie and manipulate and see us nothing more than vehicles to service their addictions. (!)

And we are so at their mercy.

So, that is what happened, to us. I came to feel, and I still feel, pride in my daughter, and in my son. It is like I am able to separate the illness or the addiction from the core of who this person I birthed and raised is, in the heart of them, whatever it looks like to anyone else.

Sometimes, I hate everyone.

I realized I was blaming the kids for the terrible things that were happening to them. And while I had reason to blame them, that wasn't helping any of us.

It was all very confusing.

Our daughter lived.

Today, she is making her way back.

I don't have anything soothing or healing to tell you. Everything about this has been sliding from one hellishly unbelievable loss into something worse ~ into something never even imagined.

But here we are.

For me, the thing I can take from this piece on how we see things, and on teaching or reminding ourselves not to create and believe in outcome, has to do with the part where the writer addresses thinking things through, doing our best as we see it, and ~ I guess what I hear, though that is not the word used, is forgiving ourselves for the outcome in advance.

Somehow, we have to learn not to destroy ourselves over the outcome when it is a bad outcome.

If we are going to survive what is happening to our kids, we need to figure out a way to assess carefully, make as informed a decision as we can about those things we have any say over at all, and then, forgive ourselves in advance.

Maybe that is it.

Knowing we are doing the best we know as we do it, rather than being so afraid we are not doing it in some magically right way that will change things for our child.


That is such an ugly word.

If you can stand to do it Rina, what was your son like, before?

While our daughter had one set of problems, our son was addicted for a number of years. He battled it so desperately hard, but he lost every time. I came to see addiction like a kidnapping.

I'm so sorry this is happening to you and your son and your family, Rina.

The worst part about it for me, with either of my children, was the pain in their eyes, the shame they felt, the horrible defensiveness, and the lies. None of that stuff lived in the heart of them, before the addictions.

This ~ all of this ~ is impossibly hard.

There is no way to accept it, or even to be okay with it.

But here we are.


Scent of Cedar *

Well-Known Member
I am (just starting to) learn how to re-define the outcome. Not "difficult child being healthy" but "difficult child being as healthy as possible", for example. Then... I can focus on the process, because the outcome is defined as "fuzzy". Anything toward that goal is positive.

This is good. I like the part about redefining "outcome". For me lately, defining outcome has come to mean defining how I am going to remain present in my own life. How am I going to do that. How can I savor my time here in this lifetime when I am breaking and breaking all over the place and I lose track of time and ~ we all know what I am describing.

We all know what it feels like when that happens.


How will I learn to cherish my life when those things that defined me to myself are crushed and unrecognizable.

I am learning, I think I am learning, that it is an act of will to remain present whether it looks like my life or not.

Apology is not required.

This sh** is serious.

I know. That doesn't sound like me at all.

But that is who I am getting to be.

And in the process, somehow, there is joy and presence. And when there is one smallest thing to be grateful for, or to feel joy over? I am there, rolling in it and trying to remember how it feels to win for once, because I know...I know what's happened in the past, and I know what could be coming now, right?


Take it and run and savor it and remember the feel of it, forever.


But right this minute, we are not in any particularly overwhelming hurt or confused or time-pressured place.

Everyone here knows I can never stand up when it's happening. Or rather, that I respond pretty well and then, fall directly apart.

That has to do with outcome, and with worrying, and with scaring ourselves to death.

I don't know how to not do that, either.


Tanya M

Living with an attitude of gratitude
Staff member
Good article.

This was my favorite part:
"If you instead let go of the need for any particular outcome, you increase your chances for success and contentment. It’s fine to desire a certain outcome; just don’t make your happiness contigent on it. Instead, derive happiness from knowing that you gave every attempt your best effort."

Dealing with our Difficult Child is a process for sure. I look back over the past 20 years of dealing with my son and all the different stages of "process" I went through. For me getting to the point of acceptance was huge as that is what allowed me to live in the present. I stopped pinning my hopes and dreams on something that was not realistic.

I understand where @Rina is coming from when she said
The process sucks. The process means not knowing whether my son is dead or alive right now, knowing that if he is alive he is on heroin, and fearing that we'll end up losing this war.

I remeber those feelings all too well. I would drive myself crazy worrying and wondering, conjuring up all kinds of bad scenarios. It was through the process of just dealing with it all that one day I realized I had to accept the fact that anyone of the bad scenarios I had imagined could very well happen or not. I came to a place of acceptance. It was painful at first but I knew it was what I needed to do if I wanted to move beyond being stuck in the phase of endless worry.

It was strange and slow at first because I was so used to going through my days with a knot in my stomach but as the days went on I felt the tension leaving my body. I started to do things for me, things that I used to enjoy but had stopped because I allowed my time to be consumed with worry.

My son is still on a path of destruction but he has managed to survive. I don't hear from him on any regular basis and that's ok. He's living his life and I'm living mine. I will always love him and hope that someday we might have a closer relationship but I'm also ok if that never happens. I'm in my 50's and life is too short to stay stuck.

I am grateful that I now have the capacity to live in the present moment, to cherish it.
I am grateful for this forum where we can all learn, share and grow.


Cedar and Tanya, thank you. In the interests on not derailing the thread, I'll just say, about my son, that before all this, he was happier than he is now. Not happy, but definitely happier.

I think it's a learning process. How to deal with what we're given, what to focus on, how to manage ourselves and get through it. Someone told me last night that eventually, you learn from experience, and that's tha way to heal. You eventually have to sink or swim. I hope I'll get there at some point, and I hope the same for everyone else in our forums.