My first attachment experience was in my childhood with a yellow blanket, named Blankey. A gift from my Nana for my third birthday. For me to go to sleep, feel good, safe, happy, I needed Blankey, or so I thought. My 4th birthday passed, then my 5th. When I reached the ripe old age of 6, my dad drew a line, “No more Blankley”. My dad thought if he cut my beloved Blankey up into small pieces, my attachment would shrink along with the blanket size. Although, blankey did get smaller, my attachment remained. As Blankey shrunk, I could hardly hold on to it. I would rub it between my thumb and my pointer finger while I sucked my thumb. Pure heaven. Then one day, while my dad was driving down the 101 freeway, mini- Blankey flew out of the car window. I am certain people four states away heard my blood curdling screams.
We’ve all have had attachments. A favorite pair of jeans, a pillow, t-shirt. I imagine someone is still hanging on to a favorite childhood treasure. Why do we require these attachments to feel good, safe or even happy? What if we got curious about why we are attached? Identifying our beliefs, emotions often reveals why we are attached. Then we are able to build capacity, resilience to be compassionate with ourselves, practice what we need for our wellbeing.
When I am attached to something I am unable to be with “what is”, be present, trust or curious about the attachment’s importance. For me, attachment’s bestie is fear. Fear whispers in my ear, “You won’t be okay or comfortable without it”. My thoughts go back and forth as I try to make a decision. My mind spins new scenarios, strategies. It feels like a nightmare marathon tennis match. My thoughts are like a spinning tennis ball. It’s as if fear and attachment relentlessly volley my thoughts and emotions back and forth in search of the best scenario. The perfect self-torture.
Signs of Attachment
Initially, I wrestle with my attachment and fear as I attempt to unpack my thoughts, free myself long enough to discover “the why” I am attached and begin to name my values. Three signs that I am attached to a present circumstance is when “I need it” to be comfortable. The second is when my thoughts serve up why I need this to happen, over and over and over. Third, I’m unable to accept I don’t need these attachments to be okay, happy. I have felt the emotional attachment to my job, my mom’s house along with needing things to be a certain way because I believe then I will be happy, more comfortable, safe. No job, house, or situation has the ability to be the source of my comfort, peace or safety forever. Believing that I need a promotion, home or relationship to be happy takes me away from being present, my gratitude, ultimately, my inner peace, wisdom and myself.
Values vs Attachment
Discovering what I value helps me to understand the difference between my values and attachments. Attachment keeps me in fear’s grasp. Plus, I hang on, tightly to the belief that if I let go of what I am attached to, the outcome is negative. Fear blinds me from seeing what is possible.
Reflecting helps me, name my values. Meaning, my standards of behavior, what is important to me in life. Naming what I value, for example, being truthful and compassionate, meditating, a nature hike. These values, and practices connect me to myself. Whereas attachment pulls me out of myself as my thoughts provide evidence to hold on to “that something” that I believe I need to be comfortable, happy or even safe. I am not free. Attachment doesn’t allow me to explore the possibility of what could be. Sound familiar?
Realizing what I value, frees me to be curious, begin to unhitch myself from the attachment. The lens I view the world, shifts, is renewed. Which I fondly referred to as “my realization goggles”.
When I am unclear about the difference between what I value and what I am attached to I ask myself three questions.
- Why do I believe I need this to happy, comfortable or safe?
- What beliefs foster fear, stop me from freely living my life filled with love, joy and gratitude?
- What practices will support my well-being?
The answers lead me to myself while building capacity and resilience, my wellbeing. It’s not about getting rid of emotional attachments. It’s about learning about them, ourselves and our values. So, get curious about an attachment. Try on your new realization goggles. Freedom comes from within. Enjoy being free.
“Attachment is the strongest block to realization.” Neem Karoli Baba