1. Material Attachment
It’s no wonder that many of the sages and spiritual masters of the world were sojourners for most of their lives, having little food or money, and certainly, no land or property to claim as their own. Their behavior points to a higher truth: that material possessions are meaningless and transient. The more you have physically, the more you have to lose, and thus, the more worried you become about losing it all.
When our happiness and security lies in the external world of objects and things, we are in constant peril. At any moment our houses could burn down, our treasures could be stolen, our bank accounts could be hacked, our businesses could go bust. Attachment to the material world is like building a fortress on shifting sands: your house is bound to crumble and fall one time or another.
If you struggle with material attachment you:
- Love the prestige of having a stylish house, designer car, fancy clothing, and other items that indicate how wealthy and successful you are.
- Gain your self-esteem and happiness from material possession, e.g., you love having the latest iPhone and without it, you’d feel outdated (and like a bit of a loser).
- Dream about living in a better house, having a better kitchen, a more expensive surround sound system, a larger pool, renovating the garden, and so forth – you gain a lot of pleasure from these daydreams.
- 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.
Related: 10 Steps For Practicing Self Love