- Stereotype people easily.
- Believe people and situations are either entirely good, entirely bad, entirely right, or entirely wrong.
- Tend to see the world in black and white, e.g., something or someone is always like this, or never does that.
- Often get lost in your head: your thoughts seem to possess you.
- Feel controlled by your thoughts: they can easily make you extremely sad, bitter, angry, jealous, etc.
Don’t feel dismayed if you can relate to one (or all) forms of attachment. We are all imperfect, we are all human, and that’s perfectly okay. Simply being aware of these forms of attachment, however, will help give us that extra centimeter of space between our True Nature and our false attachments.
How To Stop Being Attached To Thoughts, Feelings, People, And Circumstances
Non-attachment is usually the byproduct of spiritual practices such as self-discovery, self-acceptance, and self-love. Here are some useful ways to begin letting go of habits, desires, and thought patterns that no longer serve you:
1. Stop looking for happiness in external things.
When we chase happiness by believing that someone or something outside of ourselves can make us happy, we suffer. In fact, the pursuit of happiness is the greatest form of attachment there is in society.
Instead, try to direct your attention inwards. At first, seeking happiness from within (involution) can be extremely difficult as we’ve been conditioned to find “happiness” in material things, accomplishments, titles, and people. But with practice, you will start to find the peaceful center within you known as your soul. Regularly setting aside time to be quiet and still with yourself can help you tune into this inner space.
2. Let go of the “shoulds” and “musts”.
How do you approach life? Are the words “should” and “must” a big part of your vocabulary? Expectations (which are mental attachments) are always prefaced with one of these two words, for example, “He should be nicer,” “I must achieve this or I will be a failure,” “They should stop doing that immediately.”
Pay attention to the use of these two words and how they reflect in your behavior. Are you believing that something “should” happen or someone “must” be a certain way? Let it go. You cannot change people. Allow life to flow without imposing useless expectations onto it.
3. Practice allowing.
Allowing is about permitting life to be just as it is. Allow your thoughts. Allow your emotions. Allow things to not go the way you expected. In the words of Abraham Hicks, “The Art of Allowing is the art of finding my alignment, and therefore, living in joy no matter what’s happening around me.” By allowing life to happen, you stop resisting and suffering ceases.
4. Make friends with uncertainty.
We control, obsessively plan, and try to predict things out of pure fear. But the problem is that the more we resist uncertainty, the more paranoid, anxious, and tense we become. When we learn to embrace uncertainty and to allow life to unfold as it wants, we don’t experience fear anymore – instead, we feel calm, curious, and open to all possibilities.
This openness allows us to adopt a playful attitude towards life because we’re no longer limited by fearing the unknown. Sometimes a simple shift in mindset can help you befriend uncertainty instead of loathing it. For example, instead of dreading “what will come around the corner” start perceiving the unknown as a big surprise waiting to happen.
5. Learn to observe your thoughts and feelings.
The easiest way to observe your thoughts and feelings is through a regular daily meditation practice. I recommend trying Vipassana meditation as it helps you to stay grounded while discovering with the first-hand experience that you are not your thoughts: your thoughts are simply fluctuations of energy that rise and fall like waves in the ocean.
The more you incorporate thought-awareness into your life, the more readily you’ll see how irrelevant many thoughts are: they only mean something when you assign them meaning. When you don’t give thoughts importance, they cease to cause you pain.