I’ve found that my “attachment” to having certain people in my life and or my attachment to certain expectations or outcomes can have a huge impact on how I interact with and relate to the people in my life. Let’s dive deeper and look further at how our attachments can challenge us, both personally as individuals and in relationships.
Attachment is one of those new-age spiritual concepts and for years I had no idea what it really meant and when I would contemplate the idea, it irritated me. Of course I want to be attached to the wonderful things in life… why wouldn’t I be attached to my boyfriend, my dog, a job I love? I thought, how is that even possible to be unattached? Well, I could think of things or people that I was unattached to, but they were people or things I didn’t want in my life!
So, I let the concept continue to percolate in my being and a few years ago, I was blessed with a trip to sacred India where I was invited to sit with an enlightened sage and he spoke the words, “expectations are a direct ticket to h*ll”. I sat with that and the word “expectations” immediately translated in my mind to “attachments”. This was the spiritual concept that had eluded me for so long.
This idea swirled in my mind, was there something I was doing in my life that was creating a less than heavenly experience? I sadly discovered that I had this habit… a habit of creating a vision in my mind of how I wanted things to turn out and I even formulated exactly how I wanted those outcomes to happen. So, I recognized I was “attached” to not only what I wanted, but also to “the process” I (or often other people too) used to achieve that outcome.
I discovered that my “attachment” strategy was creating real pain. And, I do mean pain (I’ll tell you more about that in a minute.) I realized that I would formulate pictures or scenarios in my mind of what I wanted all kinds of things to look like – when my boyfriend should call, what I wanted to do on Saturday, how many things I wanted to get done on my to do list, what the scale should say when I got on it, what my bank account balance should be, how I thought a colleague should respond to a request, the list went on and on. These were the things I wanted and I was attached to them happening according to my plan! I realized that I left little room in my life for spontaneity, relaxation and fun. I was so busy trying to make things happen the way I wanted them to that I was often calculating (if even subtly), strategizing and pushing myself and others so I had “control” of how things turned out.
This was where the pain arose. As I watched how this habit showed up in my life, I realized that as I focused in on my wants (my attachments) my body would contract. It would literally start to “squeeze” in on itself when I put my focus on one of those things to which I was attached. I was physically experiencing ongoing tension in my body, not the relaxation I was longing to feel. Hmmm. Not good!
Relax. What if you didn’t have to control everything?
So, the next step was to begin relaxing – literally – my attachments. If I let the outcomes I was attached to become wishes, desires or intentions AND I made it completely ok for them not to happen, then I could relax and enjoy my day. I enjoyed time with my friends, boyfriend, and even colleagues so much more because I wasn’t trying to force things to happen my way… and more creativity and fun showed up in life too. Even better, great things I hadn’t even wished for started to happen. It was as if in relaxing my attachments I created space for so much more to happen.
Consider taking a few moments each day this week to notice the outcomes, goals, or expectations that you are really attached to. Notice how your attachments are impacting you and those around you. You might contemplate what it would be like if it were totally ok for those things not to happen. Notice what happens in your body with and without those attachments.
*At Ecstatic Intimacy, an all-inclusive website for singles and couples, we welcome all sexual orientation(s), gender(s) and relationship expressions. In this article we utilize the pronouns he/she/him/her.