Tag Archives: attachment

Attachment, Part II

Further consideration of our attachments in life bring to mind the Buddhist view of how attachments cause stress in our lives.  This speaks more to our attachment to worldly goods, our attachment to “how things should be”  our attachment to our perceptions of situations, other people, and even our view of ourselves.  Dr. Steven Hayes, developer of Acceptance & Commitment Therapy and author of Get Out Of Your Mind and Into Your Life, has said that suffering results from what we do to avoid emotional pain and our adherence to our own story.  The first attachment Dr. Hayes refers to is the thinking we attach to something or someone that causes us pain.  We work to avoid the pain that is aroused by those thoughts with denial, distraction, blame, even substance misuse.  The second attachment has to do with our “adherence to our own story”.  This is the story we have developed about ourselves or our position on a certain issue which we refuse to relinquish.  Consider the following questions:

  • When is the last time you knew you were right about an issue and wouldn’t budge?
  • How about the last time you were sure it was the other person who had a problem and not you?
  • What feelings did this kind of thinking bring up in you?
  • What kind of resistance was created by the rigidity of such thinking?
  • What if we let go of our attachment to how things should be or how people in our lives should behave, and simply acknowledge the loneliness, fear and disconnect we feel in our lives?
  • Wouldn’t that be the most honest place to start?
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Attachment, Part I

Several of my recent readings have prompted me to think about the attachments we form in life.   Attachments formed with those significant in our lives–our parents, partners and children, followed by our attachments to objects in our environment such as homes, cars, our way of life.  In addition, we can’t overlook the attachment we form to who we see ourselves as being, defining ourselves by our careers, our interests, the choices we make in life, the image we want to project, both to ourselves and others.  Often we see our attachments or connections, as representative of what defines us.

In her book Hold Me Tight, Dr. Sue Johnson discusses the problems arising in relationships when our attachment needs are not being met.  In essence, feeling disconnected from our partner can instigate an avalanche of negative thoughts resulting in greater disconnection.  Our fear of feeling as if our partner is not there for us morphs into the more powerful feeling of anger, further fueling the cycle of negative thoughts towards our partner.  Dr. Johnson states that it is the periods of emotional disconnect between couples, rather than conflict which results in failed relationships.

In my own practice with couples I have seen that better communication/conflict management skills are helpful, but not usually the main issue.  Couples need to feel safe enough to be vulnerable with each other.  To be able to say to each other, in word and deed, that they are afraid, that they want to be accepted by each other, and that they will be there for each other.