Don’t Get Invested in the Outcome (Plus a New Release)

by Kassandra Lamb ~ This autumn, I’m dwelling on the fact that I am old. Don’t worry, I’ll get over myself eventually. Last week, I posted about 17 Things To Do in Your Seventies, and one of those things was to value the wisdom gained with those years. I mentioned, in particular, one thing I have learned — don’t get invested in the outcome.

Don't get invested in the outcome; another way to express the Serenity Prayer
(photo by Jerry Woody CC-BY-SA 2.0 Wikimedia Commons)

The concept is related to the Serenity Prayer—knowing what we can and can’t control and accepting the part that we can’t.

The goal is to avoid approaching something thinking you can make a certain outcome happen. You can only do your part. Other people will also affect the outcome. And there may be a certain degree of luck or fate involved as well.

You can do volunteer work, for example, to support a certain political candidate, but you can’t make him or her win.

Don’t go there if you will get invested in the outcome.

Perhaps the more important lesson for me is that one should not go into a pursuit if you cannot accept the reality that the outcome is beyond your control.

For many years, I was a psychotherapist who specialized in working with childhood trauma survivors. It was tough work, but gratifying, and I was good at it.

But I never worked with children. Why? Because their fate was still way too tied up with their parent’s behaviors and issues.

I could help adults who were motivated to change the impact of their childhoods on their psyches. I had skills and techniques in my toolbox that made it a good bet most clients who truly wanted to heal would be able to do so.

But even then, I had clients who couldn’t get out of their own way. Ones who’d “yes, but” their way back into the realm of dysfunction, no matter what I did. And others who were damaged to the point that total repair was unlikely. So I actually learned the lesson of don’t get invested in the outcome much younger than most people do.

I also learned the art of detachment.

To detach from the outcome while doing the best that I could to help achieve that outcome.

A few years ago, a friend (a retired social worker) told me about her volunteer work as a guardian ad litem for children. She represented abused/neglected children in court, standing up for their rights and expressing their needs to judges.

She encouraged me to check it out as a retirement activity I might find rewarding. And she didn’t quite understand why I dismissed it fairly quickly. I knew this was not a path I was likely to take. The last thing I wanted to do, after 20 years of helping adults recover from abusive childhoods, was go to court on behalf of children currently in such situations.

Why? Not because I didn’t care or I wouldn’t be able to help these children. I’d probably be good at the task, with my background.

But because I knew I would break my rule: Don’t get invested in the outcome. Knowing what long-term effects those kids might suffer would make it impossible for me to stay detached from the outcome of their cases.

And this is the crux of that lesson learned.

If you cannot let go of feeling strongly about the outcome, it might not be good for your mental health to pursue the goal to begin with.

Now, I’m not advocating that we go with apathy or never pursue trying to make the world a better place. By all means, go after those goals you feel passionate about, but only if you can do so without becoming too heavily invested in the outcome.

That was the key for me as a therapist. I learned early on that I could only help people along the path to recovery…show the way, if you will. It was up to them to take one step at a time to get there. And sometimes other obstacles would pop up, that neither of us could control.

I felt for them, but I knew I couldn’t get invested in the outcome in their lives, where I had little or no control.

And now, in my senior years, I try to pick my battles wisely. I’ll leave changing the world to the next generation. It’s their time.

Your thoughts on this. Should one get invested in the outcome? Or not?

And on a lighter note, I have a new release, The Marcia Banks and Buddy Collection III, including Books 8 to 10 in the series. I just love this cover! (By the way, that’s a mini horse; that’s why it’s so small next to Buddy.)

RELEASES ON AMAZON on Thursday (but you can preorder it now)


The Marcia Banks and Buddy Collection III

Even small towns can harbor a killer!

In A Star-Spangled Mayfair, an impulsive fiancé, a “Mob Killer” Roman candle, and a bison bull named Tarzan are a recipe for disaster for Marcia’s introverted friend Jess Randall, owner of the Mayfair Diner. When Dan, her fiancé, offers their farm for the Mayfair Independence Day Extravaganza, then ends up with a Roman candle through his chest, Jess is the prime suspect. Marcia feels compelled to investigate to clear her friend…and to make sure Jess isn’t the next target.

In Lord of the Fleas, Marcia’s agenda while staying with her best (human) friend, Becky in Williston, Florida, is simple: spoil her godchildren and train her newest dog’s veteran owner, a vendor at the local flea market. But when the flea market’s owner is killed, her client is among the suspects. Marcia believes he’s innocent, but she soon finds that the flea market is hiding dangerous secrets.

In My Funny Mayfair Valentine, a charming newcomer makes a play for Susanna Mayfair, the sheltered niece of the town’s matriarch, and Aunt Edna begs Marcia to investigate the man’s past. Turns out he’s a wanted criminal, but he claims it’s a case of mistaken identity. While Marcia’s detective husband attempts to untangle the truth, Marcia worries about her friend’s mental health, unaware that she may be in physical danger as well. Will Marcia figure it out in time to protect Susanna…and herself?

Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She is the author of the Kate Huntington psychological mysteries, set in her native Maryland, and the Marcia Banks and Buddy cozy mysteries, set in Central Florida. Plus she has started a new police procedural series, also set in Florida—The C.o.P. on the Scene mysteries. And she writes romantic suspense under the pen name of Jessica Dale.

Misterio press produces an array of quality crime fiction. We post here twice a month, usually on Tuesdays, to alert you to new releases, to entertain, and to inform.

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