- Shopping sprees make you excited; you love bringing back bags of clothing, accessories, shoes, and other household items.
- Can’t stand the thought of losing all of your possessions in a natural disaster.
- Feel as though you couldn’t do without certain items or luxuries.
- Feel as though insuring your possessions is essential for your well-being – you want some kind of monetary reimbursement if you lose something (… to buy it all back again).
- Love surrounding yourself with beautiful furniture, linen, paintings, etc. They’re all absolutely necessary to enhance the quality of life and your well-being.
- You’re extremely upset or annoyed when something you want discontinues or sells out.
2. Personal Attachment
Unlike personal attachment, being non-attached to a person/people means being able to coexist with them without using them as a means towards an end. In other words, personal non-attachment is not needing anyone for acceptance or validation.
Unfortunately, many of us unwittingly fall into the trap of using other people to create our happiness. This is also known as conditional love, as a person loses their value to us once they cease to be a source of comfort in our lives.
The person who has developed non-attachment, on the other hand, gains their love, acceptance, and validation from themselves, rather than from others, this is why there are different styles of attachment. Thus, they are able to love unconditionally regardless of what role the person plays in their lives.
If you struggle with personal attachment you:
- Emotionally distance or completely cut off someone from your life once they become problematic or cease to be a source of personal validation for you.
- Feel lost and alone without the unceasing support of a loved one.
- Feel agonized for years after a person stops loving you.
- Hold grudges and find it hard to forgive people who have hurt you.
- Are needy and clingy – you struggle to provide your loved ones with the freedom they need to thrive (and you need their constant attention to be mentally sound).
- Are manipulative; you can be deliberately or unconsciously self-destructive in order to gain attention, love, and affection.
3. Thought Attachment
Perhaps the most insidious of all, thought attachment can destroy physical, emotional, psychological, and interpersonal well-being in the blink of an eye.
When we attach ourselves to a belief, expectation, preconceived notion, or idea – especially if these are negative or harmful – we in a sense walk around with a loaded gun. Eventually, we end up shooting ourselves, and others, with our thought attachments: it’s practically inevitable.
When we attach ourselves to a thought, we do so because they bring us either comfort, ego justification, or a sense of order and security. For instance, many of us possess thought attachments like: “I’m always like this. I can never change”, “Those people are all a bunch of idiots/thugs/thief’s/liars, etc.,” “I have found the truth! I’m right and they’re all wrong,” “My life should be like this _________,” “It will always be this way. It will never change.”
Those who are strongly attached to their thoughts tend to use extremist language, canceling out all other perspectives or possibilities and creating psychological and emotional tension, harm, and limited perception. The vocabulary usually includes words and phrases like “should,” “right/wrong,” “good/evil,” “always,” “never,” “forever,” “they are all,” “you are all,” “I am always,” “they are always,” “you are never,” “they are never,” and so forth.
Thought non-attachment, on the other hand, observes a thought, but does not identify with it, and therefore does not attach to the thought. This experience is usually developed by quieting the mind, such as in the practice of meditation, where one learns the true nature of thought: that all thought arises spontaneously and we do not control our thoughts. Because we do not control our thoughts, we are not our thoughts, we are the space behind them (also known as Consciousness). Therefore, why should we take them so seriously?
Thought non-attachment allows us to be liberated from the narrow cycles of the mind that we become trapped in, to a more expansive and open-minded perception of the world.
If you struggle with thought attachment you:
- Tend to try and “figure everything out” all the time.
- Believe certain cultures or groups of people are all alike.
- Are quite hard and judgmental towards yourself, and thus are hard and judgmental towards others.