‘Attachment is suffering, connection is blissful.’
If you struggle with letting go of things, you need to know that you are not alone. This could be in form of friendships, jobs, opportunities, people, negative thoughts, or even places. It seems like a huge struggle to let go, and it can break you for months. Attachment issues are dangerous because when, one day, you’re forced to let go, the detachment feels like separation of your soul from the core of its being.
Connection, on the other hand, is beautiful. Here’s the difference between the two. The attachment has the power to completely take us away from the present. It keeps us either in the past or the future, longing for things to be final or permanent. Connection makes room for the unexpected. Connection is intimate, synced, vulnerable, and present. Attachment is selfish and need-based, while connection is freedom. To me, what is clear is that all forms of attachment stem from an emotional perspective.
The danger with attachment is that when things go in a different way from what you had imagined, it can lead to depression, anxiety, poor self-image, and self-hatred. But perhaps the sign that is most outward and visible is frequent outbursts and erratic behaviours, which stems from the inability to clearly see and understand the world or properly process the behaviour of others or relationships. In some ways, attachment blurs you from the reality of life.
The art of detachment asks for the withdrawal of desire from lesser things and letting them fall away, so as to harness their power to reach the heights of what a human being can attain.
Let’s take a look at various ways to break the cycle of attachment, and how to master the art of detachment:
- Understand the dynamic nature and impermanence of life
Life is naturally dynamic. Very few things last forever, and I believe that is the magic of it. You experience so many different things and get to embody so many different traits that shape you into who you are today. Then the cycle breaks and starts again. Understanding this will help you to detach from ‘lesser things’ and to let them fall away.
In an article on Thrive Global, Giang Cao Ho My puts it this way, ‘Look deeply at all that you have. Your body, at first. Is it composed of water that comes from a cloud? Does it contain innumerable beings inside it, from the cells of an apple that you just ate, or the oxygen that you just breathed from a tree? You will realize not only the interconnected nature of all things but also the impermanence.’
- Get busy
One of the main reasons that we get attached is that we feel a void by the absence or lack of the factor in question. How do you deal with that? Get busy! Join a group, or immerse yourself in learning a new hobby or skill. Instead of twiddling your thumbs and throwing pity parties all day and every day, you can learn how to detach emotionally by keeping your mind busy with other thoughts. There is nothing better than improving aspects of yourself while at the same time learning the art of detachment.
- Identify the ego
The word ego is the Latin translation for ‘I.’ Egoism, on the other hand, is the motive to act in one’s self-interest. Someone who is behaving egoistically is simply pursuing his or her own goals, as we all do. In itself, the ego is beautiful because it pushes you to go after your dreams and protect your energy. However, many of our negative emotions come from ego, including emotional attachment. A study published in the Asian Journal of Social Psychology found that high ego development was associated with attachment security.
To identify your ego, you need to reach your higher self. This is generally done through some forms of meditation, particularly mindfulness. It allows you to observe yourself “silently”. You can watch what unfolds and arises from within you, and recognized the “ego” part of it. Identifying the ego makes you see that it is only part of a bigger and universal self. We are then liberated from our fear and insecurity created by our emotional attachment.
The benefits of exercise are invaluable! Aside from the physical advantages, it helps with mental health too. It’s no wonder some people will say they work out or go to the gym primarily to improve their mental health. Exercise promotes chemicals in the brain that improve your mood and make you more relaxed. Specifically, the brain releases feel-good chemicals called endorphins throughout the body. It builds emotional resilience which translates to physical resilience. In doing so, getting physically strong strengthens your head as well.
- Practice self-love
Be kind to yourself. Treat yourself as you would your best friend. Monitor your thoughts and make sure that you speak highly of yourself, inwardly and outwardly. Psychologist Debra Campbell says, “If you’re hard on yourself, ask yourself whether you’d speak to someone else that way. Would it help a child to grow in self-esteem if you spoke to them the way you speak to yourself in your head? If not, think about giving yourself the same level of kindness and compassion you’d give another.”
Self-love might sound like egotism but in fact, it is the foundation of self-esteem and has knock-on effects in areas as diverse as emotional intelligence and resilience.
‘Detachment is not that you should own nothing. It is that nothing should own you.’
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