How Do I Get Rid Of Unwanted Emotional Attachments?
Humans are emotional beings. We often use our emotions, in conjunction with our intellect, to make sense of the world around us. From choosing our friends to deciding what to do over the weekend, we exercise the option which makes us feel happy, excited, valued, or cared for.
But there are times when we get emotionally attached to a person, thing, or situation and find it difficult to break away from it/them. Our inability to let go causes suffering and many times it could even have major negative consequences. Even when we are aware of such attachments, sometimes we are unable to get rid of them. What do we do then?
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Use logic and reasoning
Logic and reasoning are natural antidotes to emotion. They can help one gain clarity and consequently, control of the situation. For example, suppose a childhood toy that was our favorite while growing up, suddenly breaks or gets lost. At first, we feel sad and angry. We may even start a fight with the person who accidentally happened to break or lose the toy. We are in a lot of emotional distress.
Now, in such a situation, if we pause, take a breath and think about the last time we actually played with that toy, we would realize that it was many years ago and we would be able to see the fact that the toy is in no way special to us anymore and it is easily replaceable if need be. We then feel better and relieved. Sometimes, the emotional attachment comes from the human connection, the thing symbolized. Say, the toy was the last gift given to us by our grandmother before she died. Now that would make the toy very precious and add tremendous sentimental value to it. But continuing the train of logic, we would reason that nothing is permanent. Just like people, things also have a life span.
We tried to take as much good care of the toy as we could, and for as long as we could. Besides, we have so much else to remember our grandmother by. Material things can be broken or lost, but the advice she gave, or the skills she taught will be with us for a long time. This comforts us then. And even when it comes to the emotional attachment for some person, by sheer force of our inner will accompanied by rational thinking, we can gradually learn to control our emotions. And even when it comes to the emotional attachment for some person, by sheer force of our inner will accompanied by rational thinking, we can gradually learn to control our emotions.
For instance, if our loved one feels we are smothering them with our emotions, they may feel suffocated and need more space. Teenage children are the best example of this, although such circumstances may arise in any relationship. At first, we may be hurt, but then we realize that nobody likes to be told what to do all the time. We also understand that our over-involvement in our loved ones’ lives may be well-intentioned (we often worry for their safety and don’t want them to get hurt), but is unnecessary and may end up doing more harm than good. We decide that we will speak or act when there is a real threat to their well-being, but otherwise, let them be. Moreover, we do not want them to resent us, so we decide to back off and respect our loved one’s need for space and boundaries. This strengthens the relationship.
And what if someone wants to break all ties with us? This is very common in romantic relationships, but again, it could happen in any type of relationship. We are still emotionally attached to that person but are forced to let go not only of that person but also our own emotions. This is difficult. Emotions do not have an on/off switch. But our ethics tell us that we must respect the other person’s wishes to end the relationship. The key here is acceptance. Once we accept the situation, we will notice that the force of emotions will slow down. We must repeat to ourselves that we no longer have a right to be emotionally attached to that person, and this will help us get through the situation.
And finally, death! How do we deal with a loved one’s death when our emotional attachments make things very difficult for us and cause a lot of suffering? Grief is a normal reaction to death. We all experience grief when someone we love dies. Over time, we accept the fact that the person is no more, and find some way or another to cope up with the loss. But for someone who is too attached to the departed, the process of grief can last long and become unhealthy. One can try logic and reasoning, but at times like these, the emotions are too powerful to give way to logical thinking.
It is at this time that one needs something bigger, some sort of spiritual guidance that can explain the logic of death and make it acceptable. According to Param Pujya Dada Bhagwan, an Indian spiritual teacher, death can trouble us only until we are not aware of our true identity.
He explains that our real identity is that of a pure Soul. Anything besides that, our body, name, family, material circumstances, etc. are all relative and temporary because they are all external to our being. Even our emotions are relative because they are external and not an intrinsic part of ourselves. This means when a person dies, only the external realities change. The Soul is not affected one bit. And since we are nothing but pure Souls, death cannot affect us.
This knowledge and understanding achieved during Self-Realization is the ultimate weapon against all unwanted emotional attachments.
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