6 practical and spiritual tips for letting go of unhealthy attachments

Do you find yourself attached to something unhealthy? Below is an overview of helpful ideas that can help you in the process of letting go.

Often, the first question we're face when we’re attached is, "Why we can’t let go?" We know it’s unhealthy, and it stresses us out, so why can’t we move on? Basically it comes down to this: We’re not sure if we really want to.

Sure, we might feel tired with the situation. We might be mad at ourselves, embarrassed, ashamed and stressed. We can easily assume we want to let go and just can’t.

Letting go isn’t easy, especially in relationships. And letting go of your marriage, spouse or partner can be one of the hardest things to do in life. Yet, it can be the most rewarding, positive, life-changing experience you will ever have. Letting go allows you to express your real self; the one that doesn’t require any attachments to feel safe or happy. Truth be told, your real self already has everything you need to feel secure and happy. Be willing to get to know the real you. That begins with letting go of those people that you mistakenly believed brought you security and/or happiness. That belief keeps you imprisoned and locked in a cycle of low self-worth, dependency, and misguided duty or obligation.

Here are some keys for letting go of unhealthy attachments:

1. See things as they are: This happens first and foremost by seeing the relationship as it really is. This means recognizing its limitations. It means willingly facing the truth.
Maya Angelou once said, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.” Sometimes we have blinders on to what’s in front of us. We may cling to the belief someone will change, or that the situation is better than it really is. When we’re attached, we have to consciously take off the rose colored glasses every time we automatically put them back on.
Once we see clearly, we are invited to accept what we see, rather than trying to change it. We can relax our grasp, and rest from efforts that don’t work. We can choose to relinquish control, surrendering our need to make things different from what they are.

2. Meditation: Meditation is simply sitting still and trying to pay attention to the present moment — whether that’s your breath, your body, or what’s around you right now. What you’ll find is that your mind runs away from the present moment, attaching to worries about the future, planning, remembering things in the past. In meditation, you practice letting go of these mini attachments, by noticing what your mind is doing and letting go, returning to the present moment. This happens again and again, and so you get good at it. It’s like muscle memory after doing it hundreds, thousands of times. You learn that whatever you were attached to is simply a story, a narrative, a dream. It’s not so heavy, just a bit of cloud that can be blown away by a breeze.

3. Realize what you want isn’t there: While accepting things as they are, we have to tell ourselves that what we’re looking for isn’t found here.
We all want love. We also want peace and true joy. Those are our deepest desires. But in unhealthy emotional attachments, we are not at rest. We do not feel contentment and stability. The joy we have is flimsy and minimal—mixed with unpredictable anxiety or pain. Any love we experience is empty and practically cancelled out with the frustration we feel inside. The idea that what we’re looking for isn’t found here is one we have to process internally. Only when we really, truly believe this attachment is only hurtful, will we no longer be interested in it.

4. Compassion: In this meditation, you wish for an end to your suffering, or an end to the suffering of others. What happens is that this wish transforms you from being stuck in your attachment, to finding a warm heart to melt the attachment and find a way to ease it. You become bigger than your story, when you wish for your own suffering to end. And when you wish for others’ suffering to end, you connect yourself to them, see that your suffering is the same as theirs, and understand that you’re in this together. What happens is that your attachments and story become less important, not such a big deal, as you connect with others in this way.

5. Consider God’s role: It’s important to remember we’re not alone in this. We’ve got a Father, literally right by our sides, who “gets” it—why we feel how we do, and what more there is for us. Not only is He by our side, He really is in control. It’s not arbitrary that we’re not with this person. We didn’t mess things up, nor did we miss His perfect will. He’s got a reason for the way things are.

6. Shift the focus to yourself: Attachment causes us to center our mental world around the person we are not meant to be with. Detaching involves making plans for our own life and asking ourselves honestly How am I doing? What can I do for myself? It means shifting out attention from what this person is or isn’t doing, how they may or may not feel, and putting it on yourself.
If you find you need healing, you need comfort, then you should put yourself in the place to get it. Ask yourself what freedom you need to start feeling better, and decide to move into it. We also need to turn our attention to our potential, and how God sees us. Maybe we’ve been so worn down in thinking of the other person that we forgot how God values and cherishes us. It’s time to get that back.

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