In the wee hours of the late night last night when I could not sleep a friend sent me a simple message about an attachment she was feeling. It was quite timely because I too was dealing with releasing attachment that I was recently feeling. Attachment is something that is tossed around a lot these days but not always clear in its meaning or practice.
So, what is attachment?
Well as stated in the graphic above, attachment is our perception of the outcome we want in a situation. I’m sorry to say, it is how we are raised to be, and it is a horrible way to be. Each of us is living our life, in our way, through our eyes. We are not seeing anything through anyone else’s eyes — even if we try. It is an impossible and fruitless undertaking. But often we have heard things like, try to see it from their perspective, or through their eyes, or how that made them feel. Okay, a valid exercise, more empathy in my opinion though than actually seeing from another’s perspective.
When we accept that every experience we have is so uniquely our own, we accept that we cannot see through another’s eyes.
We do not have the same frame of reference, the same history, the same emotional charges — it cannot be done. Two people can stand right beside each other, best friends from childhood and witness the same event and perceive two totally different things. Often this basic lack of understanding about each of our individual and unique impressions of life is what leads to so much confusion and distress. We assume that the other person sees our side of things clearly, that they understand us, that they perceive the situation the exact same way we do. They do not.
Back to attachment. When we’ve understood that the other has their complete and unique understanding of their own reality we also must understand that we cannot alter their perception. Just because we see a situation progressing in a specific direction does not mean they perceive it that way. Nor does it mean they are wrong in perceiving their version. Attachment is when we believe in our version and want them to believe it too. We invest in the outcome we see and only the outcome we see. Often this is in relationships with others, we invest our image of what the relationship should be and we are emotionally tied to that. We wish it, will it, believe it, and so on, but none of that makes it the other person’s reality unless they have also chosen to see that. More often than not, we form an attachment to an outcome so strongly that we cause unnecessary grief and pain to ourselves. We do not allow for an open wide view of not knowing and resting in that. Instead we grasp onto our desired outcome and usually make ourselves and another miserable in the process.
Practicing not being attached to an outcome is work.
It doesn’t come naturally and often it is necessary to align yourself with others who share this awareness to support and identify when you are in attachment. Last night my friend helped remind me by sharing her attachment. Today I am clearer and more in alignment with surrender. This practice is a long journey and needs to be really lived all of the time. As, time goes on and even when we are not able to release the attachment, because it has become so important to us, even bringing awareness to the attachment is a start. Just being aware of the places you are attached to the outcome. I believe you will be surprised how often and in so many things you are attached.
So, if you aren’t attached then what do you do instead? As with myself, I have a hard time with “space.” I like things organized, cataloged and clearly defined. I don’t do well with limbo. So for me, and many others, we learn to be in surrender. My reaction to first learning about surrender was to give up, to lose to be weak. But that is not surrender. Surrender is to stop fighting, to stop forcing, to stop draining every ounce of our being by trying to make what we want to happen. Instead it is allowing what we want to come to us, to seek us out and to find us. It is allowing what we want to enter our lives in whatever form it takes and being open to it.
Surrender is not giving up on who and what we are. Surrender is allowing the most amazing things and people to come to us.
It is not limiting what we can receive. If we are fixed upon a specific outcome and attached only to that outcome then we limit any other outcome ever coming our way. And in my experience whether it be bliss or trying times, the universe provides exactly the vehicle for that experience in a way that was beyond what I could anticipate. A friend recently told me he did not believe in unconditional love — that there were always conditions. I disagree. There are conditions in relationship to people and most specifically relationship that need to be defined and agreed upon. But unconditional love, I believe that is just love without attachment to the outcome. I can, and have, loved this way before. I am not an expert on it, nor am I perfect at it. I fall back into attachment and catch myself. But, I can honestly say that I have loved without attachment to the outcome and in full surrender of whatever happens. In my perception, in my reality — that is unconditional love.