Attachment to anyone or anything betrays an underlying belief that there is not enough of the "good stuff" in the world. Being overly attached is a signpost of our fear that we might lose whatever good we tenuously have. But it rarely serves you well to hang on tight, attempting to keep whatever fragment of good is left in a life based on lack. Hanging on too tight constricts the flow of creativity, joy, appreciation, and most especially, peace.
Many of us have the mistaken belief that the tighter we cling to something, the less chance there is that it will be "taken" from us. Anyone who has observed a two year old child will recognize the same thing when concerned about their toys. (And then watch as some adult comes along and forces them to "share".) Unfortunately, that same pattern re-inserts itself into our adult lives, albeit in a more sophisticated way. As adults, we might be able to freely share our toys, but when confronted with losing our security, our freedom, our loved ones, or our "rights", we suddenly become very 2-year-oldish again.
How can we be blamed for holding tight to the good things of life? Having wonderful people and things around us gives us the illusion that we have "made it". Beautiful spouse – check! Beautiful house – check! Darling children – check! Fantastic career – check! It's like we have somehow reached the journey's end. (Although I don't know anyone who has all their "boxes" checked.) To lose something would mean that we need to start travelling on that journey of acquisition again, or worse, that we need to start over at the beginning. But what if the whole journey was just a circular trail, leading us around to our deepest self - learning about and expanding who we choose to show up as in the world?
A friend was recently describing to me that very feeling. The ideals and dreams he had once held, he now saw as holding little of the value he once thought they had. "We continue to fall back into ourselves", he said, not in a hopeless way, but a profound way that recognized that life's circumstances are a mirror showing him exactly what he needed to know. It was the recognition that all the striving and goal setting and hanging on by his fingernails at times, were simply a reflection of who he was in that moment. The people or circumstances are there to remind us of who we are, and to nudge us in the direction our greatest self.
It's difficult to see the areas of life that you cling too tightly to. Letting go of your habitual thoughts isn't always easy. You have good reasons and long-established habits that encourage your grip. Take a few minutes of quiet time to contemplate the following 6 questions:
1. Who do you feel is "giving to you" or "taking from you"?
2. Where do your thoughts take you when you worry about losing something?
3. What are some specific reasons you feel tightly attached to certain people or things, and could you let them go?
4. Why do you feel the desire to possess people or things at all?
5. When do you feel most satisfied and at peace with what you have?
6. Who could you become if you were to let go more?
Susan Merz Anderson is a Professional Certified Coach with more than 10 years of experience inspiring hundreds of clients to realize their potential and live their dreams. She has also completed training as a Relationship Coach and a Heart Virtues coach and trainer. In addition to her life coaching practice, she and her husband Steve provide empowering personal development resources on their website at Inspiring-Self-Improvement.com.