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What Does Emotional Attachment Mean?

Freedom from Emotional Attachment
What Is Emotional Attachment?

  • Emotional attachment is the tendency to cling to people, beliefs, habits, possessions, and circumstances, and the refusal to let go and try new things.
  • When emotionally attached, you are unable or unwilling to let go, make changes, or get out of your comfort zone and do new things.
  • Emotional attachment also means a lack of freedom because you tie yourself to people, possessions, habits, and beliefs and avoid change and anything new. This means that if you lose something to which you are attached, you feel bad and unhappy.

When you become emotionally attached to certain habits or beliefs, you find it difficult to change them, and it becomes difficult to see things from a different point of view..

If you attach yourself too much to people, this can sometimes lead to unhappiness and suffering when you disagree with them about certain matters or if they leave you.

When you build up emotional attachments, you might find it difficult to let go when something gets wrong. You will also be unwilling to leave your comfort zone and do something different, meet new people, or change your beliefs.

When getting used to a certain situation or habit, you build strong bonds that tie you like ropes, and it becomes difficult to let go and make changes.

The Difficulty of Letting Go

Most people have difficulty letting go.

This might seem strange, but people in bad relationships, even though they might suffer, often continue the relationship, unable to end it. They feel attached to the other person, even if there is no love between them.

There are cases where a person feels bad in a relationship yet continues it due to the fear of being alone and having to deal with changes in life.

People might also get attached to their possessions and refuse to throw or give away things that they no longer need. They just hoard stuff, unable to let go of it when they no longer need it or when it becomes useless.

Sometimes, emotional attachment shows up when you need to make changes in your life, from changing your wardrobe or changing your eating habits to starting a new job or relocating to another city. At these times, there might be inner resistance and reluctance to make the changes.

A great number of people prefer to avoid making changes, even if they are living in uncomfortable situations.

These people are so used to their habits of life and attached to their present way of life, so that any change seems threatening. They are afraid to change the conditions they well know, and they refuse to leave their comfort zone. This is one of the form of emotional attachment.

You only lose what you cling to.” – Buddha

Related: What Are the Benefits of Emotional Detachment?

Emotional Attachment to People

When you get used to the presence of certain people in your life, do you feel uncomfortable when they go away or leave you, even if it is only temporary?

This is natural, however, when there is too much emotional involvement, and when this becomes too exaggerated, it can become a problem, and you will unnecessarily suffer.

There is another side to emotional attachment to people. When there is too much emotional attachment to people, you allow them to transfer their problems, anxieties and stress to you. This might adversely affect your feelings and state of mind.

There is another reason why you should be careful of too much attachment. Too much of it can lead to jealousy, anger and fights.

Emotional Attachment to Possessions

  • Do you hoard stuff? Do you agonize if you lose something you own, or if something breaks down?
  • Is there something that will make you sad or angry if you lose it?
  • Is there something, which you feel your life would not be worth much if you lose it?

This is due to too much emotional attachment to possessions.

It might seem weird, but people are attached to their smartphones, certain clothes or other possessions. This is like a kid who is attached to his or her toy or doll.

It is okay to have possessions and enjoy them, but you need to develop a certain degree of detachment, so that if you lose something you remain calm and poised.

Everything in life comes and goes. Accepting this idea allows you to let go, develop a certain degree of detachment, remove your attachments, and be willing to go forward, leave your comfort zone, and make changes in your life.

Attachment to Habits

Smoking, overeating and overworking are addictive habits. People who are addicted to them know that these habits are unhealthy for them. Yet, they do not have the inner strength or desire to overcome them.

People who smoke heavily, for example, or people who love to eat, are unwilling to let go of these habits. They feel they would lose something important if they give them up. They feel they cannot live without their habit, but they are wrong.

Life would be much better without these habits, but to overcome them, some work is required. You will need to resist them over and again, and remove your attachment to them. This requires that you learn some willpower, self-discipline and motivation.

Emotional Attachment to Situations and Places

Another phase of emotional attachment is the habit of clinging to situations or places. We might not want to move to another house or another town, because we want to stick with the familiar environment and the people we know, even when the change is good for us.

We often do not want to change anything we are used to do, since it feels familiar and safe. This attitude prevents progress and improvement.

Emotional Attachment to Memories

Dwelling on the past, irrespective if it was good or bad, and longing for the past, keeps you in the past. The past is gone and you cannot bring it back. The future has not occurred yet. The only thing that exists is the present moment. This is the only real time that exists.

To be happy and successful, you need to stop dwelling on your bad memories and reliving them. You need to start living in the present. You need to focus on the present moment, enjoy it, and make the most of it. This would free you of most of your emotional attachments.

Emotional attachment, when exaggerated, is like chains that tie you down and take away your freedom. Freeing yourself from these chains brings you inner peace, happiness, common sense and freedom of choice.

You can love, own possessions, and yet not allow them to interfere with your judgment and choices or limit your freedom. For this, you will need to develop a little detachment.

I hope that this article clarified a little what does emotional attachment mean and contributed to its definition.

“Attachment is the great fabricator of illusions; reality can be attained only by someone who is detached.”
– Simone Weil

“Attachment to the past and fears concerning the future not only govern the way you select the things you own, but also represent the criteria by which you make choices in every aspect of your life, including your relationships with people and your job.”
– Marie Kondo