Attachment, Acceptance and Why “Being Strong” is Not Helpful.

A room in a temple in South Korea (photo taken on a family trip several years ago).

When you are a “part” of something, a natural sense of dependency and attachment occurs.  Although these concepts are usually looked upon as negative terms, if you have a healthy sense of attachment and inter-dependency, it can be a wonderful thing, and much fruition can manifest.  It’s when the pendulum swings too much in one way or the other that issues begin to arise.

  • The over-dependent, over-attached person becomes needy, clingy or frozen in their ability to do things on their own, becomes a victim, always needing someone to come to their rescue, has anxiety about being alone and/or may rely on others to define who they are.
  • The detached, independent person becomes withdrawn, passive, uncomfortable in group settings, may feel the need to control everything, be unable to speak or collaborate, or seen as a “loner.”
  • The healthy dependent, attached person knows how to set boundaries and is confident about their role on the sports team, in the symphony, with the family, or as part of the organization.

Our lives are filled with attachments.  We are attached to our television, Internet, food, pharmaceutical drugs, pornography, success, love, career, status, ideals, self-image, relationships, marriage, kids, “feeling good,” money, etc.  You name it.. we’ve built attachments to it.

How do we let go of unhealthy attachments and build healthy ones?
Honestly, I have no idea.  I don’t have a magic answer, because I’m still trying to figure it out myself.  I know of some things that work for me and some things that don’t.  One thing you can do is an exercise to help identify your behaviors and thought patterns.  Everyone is different in how they choose to live and act, and there is no right or wrong way.  You have to find what works best for you. Click here to see the results of my exercise.

Personal Acceptance
We all have issues.  No one is perfect, and there’s no use in trying to pretend like we are.  I have tendencies to fall back into unhealthy patterns fairly often (more than I’d like to admit). When I do “slip up” and realize I’m heading down a destructive path or seeking attention in the wrong places, I try not to go into “guilt” mode, but rather acknowledge what is happening (or happened), change course and move on.

Acceptance is the key. I’ve accepted the fact that I’m an imperfect, overly emotional woman, who has good intentions, but makes mistakes and does the “wrong” thing sometimes (or pretty much all the time).  I strive to learn from every situation and not repeat the same harmful patterns over and over again. The whole movement of we have to “be strong” is not helpful in my opinion.  If you’re hurting, or feeling wounded, a safe space is necessary to harbor these feelings of vulnerability versus trying to “be strong” and pretend like you are an invincible super-person.  The worst thing you can do is tell yourself (or someone else) to feel something different instead of what they actually are.  However, where is the boundary and when is it appropriate to “snap out of it” before “getting in touch with your feelings” turns into extreme self-centeredness or destructive?

Worldly Acceptance
Another thing to accept is the world we live in.  There are constant debates happening everyday:  political battles, the food industry, broken relationships, religion, rights (or lack) of a particular population, Internet privacy wars, big corporations versus the little guys, the “man,” etc. If you are reading this article and have access to the Internet, try and consider yourself lucky.  The fact that we have a vehicle for our voice to be heard, as well as access to a wealth of information, opinions and ideas is a luxury, not a necessity in my opinion.

No matter what we think we “need” to survive or succeed in this world (Internet, car, relationship, etc.), there is more than likely always an alternate option.  Don’t live in fear and become too overly attached to anything and don’t become so dis-attached that you are unable to commit and be deeply involved in anything.

Acceptance is the key and what will ultimately bring you peace.  I’m not suggesting you should “keel” over, be a pushover or align yourself with those that are unjust or abusive.  I’m saying that long-term rejection, bitterness, complaint, anger, worry and constantly battling with yourself and others will wear you down and eventually steal your soul. We’ve all been dealt a hand of cards (whether we like what’s printed on them or not).  Yes, sometimes things are unfair, but unfortunately such is life.  Why doesn’t God just come down and make things happy and perfect?  Good question.  Maybe one day we’ll find out (or not).

In the meantime, remember to take a break.  Step away from your phone/computer and go for a walk.  Pick up a paper and pencil (remember that?)  Maybe I’m an old-fashioned girl stuck in a modern woman’s body.  All I know is that there is much to experience beyond our tangible day-to-day grind.  So just do it.  Ask questions.  Be curious.  Seek for answers.  Don’t worry about being right all the time.  Make mistakes.  Whether you believe in creating your own reality or that everything has already been written, we might as well fasten our seat belts, sit back and enjoy the ride on this road called life.  You never know where you might land.

by Kristin Bach
Copyright 2014


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