“We Westerners always have to blame something external when things go wrong, “I’m not happy, so I’d better change this.” We’re always trying to change the world around us instead of recognizing that it’s our own attachment that we have to change.” ~ Lama Yeshe
We’re so attached to outcomes that we rarely live in the moment. What would happen if we had no attachments?
Attachments are expectations and preferences. We are attached to different outcomes as to how our relationships should begin, end or progress. This is true for intimate relationships, family, co-workers and even strangers.
We carry attachments to certain behaviors, music genres, food, type of friends, personality traits, material gains, political parties, youthful and physical attractiveness, coping strategies, education, etc. There is a plethora of literature on attachment styles, particularly those we carry from childhood. These connections we create very early in our lives will set the stage for adulthood.
Every one of us has attachments, whether we are mindful of them or not. I know we would like to think that we are free and move about our lives independently of external influence, but this is not the reality.
These attachments impede us from living a joyful existence. Each thought we have and action we carry out is funneled through our attachments.
I have found that our most debilitating attachments are usually our attachments to the perception others have of us.
I have made countless decisions on the account of my attachments and I could never figure out why the choices I made never felt like my own. They often felt like they were coming from somewhere outside myself and not my heart. My decisions were completely controlled by my attachments and it wasn’t until I started asking myself why that I realized my actions were very much influenced by my relatives, friends and society at large.
We have been taught to be “good boys and girls” and to comply with the expectations of our parents, who had their own set of dependencies as well. It’s almost as if they are saying, “Here, live by my attachments, because they are the right ones.” The issue with this is that the principles we are taught are handed down from someone else with their own attachments.
There is little concern for individuality and the uniqueness of our spiritual journey. Our life journey is not one-size-fits-all, and it is up to us to explore if these inherited attachments are well suited to us or not.
We have the authority to explore and acknowledge our attachments and even though this process can be quite painful and humbling, it is necessary if we desire personal freedom and self-love. When we explore our attachments, their origin and detrimental impact on our lives results in a new level of self-awareness and sets the stage for tremendous personal growth.
For many of us just from gaining awareness about what we’re attached to, the ball starts rolling in the right direction. There is often not too much effort required after the blunt acknowledgement of our attachment. It will, more often than not, begin to heal itself.
There is no need to get fanatical and try to break the attachment that you’ve discovered is keeping you stagnant. The most painful part is the realization that you’re being controlled by an idea that you don’t genuinely believe in.
Many of us will develop a feeling of being “had” and spend some time in deep reflection about that. We can also sometimes feel resentful about the intensity of our newly realized attachments, but it is a very significant part of our growth to un-learn what we have been taught and to question its universal validity.
It is true that asking ourselves difficult questions about why we are making the decisions we are making can really stir things up, but it is also true that without exploring this intimate part of our lives we will be forever run by what we are attached to.
And what is truly free about living a life on autopilot?
Author: Jade Black
Apprentice Editor: Tess Estandarte / Editor: Sarah Kolkka
Image: The Shopping Sherpa/Flickr