Releasing Attachment to Outcome: What a Butterfly Taught Me About Life (and Death)

Do you ever give up on things because the perceived outcome is less than desirable?

How often do you avoid doing something because it’s ‘not worth it’?

Where are you holding back in life from truly giving for fear of failure?

For many of us, the desire to succeed and the fear of failing miserably are closely intertwined. It may seem we can't have one without the other.

When faced with situations where we can do something that ‘won’t work’, or we can avoid doing anything, humans often choose avoidance. Why do something that has no guarantee of success?

Get the results, win the prize, prove your point. Ego, ego, ego.

As a Reiki Healer, these kind of beliefs are challenged in my daily life. When I think something is ‘not worth it’, I am often proved wrong. And when I believe something is a sure thing, I will be reminded to release attachment to outcome.

What does that really mean,
‘release attachment to outcome’?

It means that we DO and we GIVE and we BE without influence of how it might turn out.  

Instead of focusing on perfection, controlling the situation, and expecting certain results, we live in the present moment, embracing whatever comes up with non-judgment and compassion, letting our hearts lead us without over-thinking it all.

It will happen as it’s supposed to happen. 

Releasing attachment to outcome is:

  • speaking up for yourself and honouring your truth even when it seems unlikely to work in your favour
  • making the important decisions and sticking with them because it feels like the right thing to do
  • doing what you need to without expecting a specific outcome or result

Releasing attachment to outcome is NOT:

  • a reason to give up on what you want
  • an excuse to be lazy or uncaring
  • anything to be afraid of or resistant to

In other words: Do the thing you know you need to do regardless of how you think it will turn out. Keep moving forward without relying on any one certain result and know that it will happen exactly perfectly anyway. 

Go with the flow. Accept what comes. Allow yourself to be surprised.

Releasing attachment to outcome allows us to live from the heart instead of the ego. Here is a recent story to give you an example:

One beautiful summer morning on a walk with my dog Bodhi, I noticed along the road a yellow and black butterfly who seemed unable to fly. 

He must have been hit by a car windshield; struck hard enough to stun but not kill. After a sniff of approval from my canine pal, I scooped up the butterfly and turned for home. Reiki was in order for this butterfly friend of mine. 

Although my love for animals runs deep, this was the first butterfly I had ever picked up. Certainly the first butterfly I had ever felt inclined to share Reiki with. 

Cradled between my hands, his little legs twitching as he crawled so feebly, that lovely yellow butterfly received 20 minutes of Reiki healing. I had hope for the wee fellow.

“Why don’t you just put him out of his misery?” someone asked me. But I couldn’t; it wasn’t my place. 

So we sat by the lake, Bodhi at my side, and I admired this fuzzy little butterfly and his delicate wings. The Reiki poured from my hands and when it stopped, I softly placed him under a Maple tree to either rest or die. This decision was not up to me but I had done what I could. 


In the morning, I checked on my butterfly friend. He had not survived. 

Despite this, I knew completely that my Reiki had helped. It may not have prevented his death, but surely it allowed for a more peaceful passing. Don’t we all deserve that, even the butterflies who flit against our windows as we cruise down the highway?

Of course

This yellow butterfly friend was a good reminder to release attachment to outcome. 

To give because it feels right and not because of expectations. To trust in the order of nature without judgment, fear, or worry.

Yes, this butterfly in the gravel was easy to overlook; I could have decided to leave him there. I could have reasoned that I have better things to do with my time than to ‘waste’ Reiki on a butterfly who is going to die anyway. That would have been my ego.

But my heart? My heart said to give love. My heart asked me to try this. My heart urged me to help despite my help not being ‘enough’. Enough for what? For my ego to be happy.

This beautiful yellow butterfly caught my eye and changed my life. It may sound silly, but I know he was put in my path for a reason. Maybe as a reminder to give selflessly; maybe as a test of ego vs. heart. Whatever the reason, I will never forget our 20 minutes by the lake. 

Thank you Universe, that was a good one.

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(it's easier than you think)

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