The Stickiness of Attachment
By Kristina Jansz
Awareness is 80% of the Journey so understanding this one point about Attachment will go a long way in helping you solve the riddle as to why unwanted themes are repeating themselves in your life.
There’s a beautiful vine growing over the pergola in my backyard. During the Spring it sends out young tendrils that have a sticky, tacky nature to them. In their early stages of growth, these young shoots often point straight out into open air, not fastened to anything and as a result, are very vulnerable.
When the wind blows, these un-tethered tendrils sway back and forth, inevitably bumping into other vines or the wooden posts of the pergola and due to their stickiness, they are able to take hold and attach themselves to something stable. The sticky nature of their youth ensures their survival. Once they have secured themselves, the stickiness disappears and they develop the ability to secure themselves on their own.
The Attachment Instinct ensures our survival early on in life
As infants and children, we too have strong attachment instincts and they are as necessary for our survival as the young tendrils on the vine. The physical attachment instinct to attach to the breast or bottle ensures our physical survival and the emotional attachment instinct drives us to emotionally attach to our parents so that we can receive the sustenance we need to ensure our emotional survival.
However, if as children we don’t receive the love, nurturing, support and sense of belonging that we need for our emotional survival, our bodies mature into adults but emotionally, we are still driven by the attachment instinct of the child. In other words, even though we’re adults, we are still looking outside of ourselves to emotionally attach to someone or something to make us feel safe, loved, and give us a sense of belonging/identity.
The Trap Door
Now as adults, the things to which we most often attach are either human or material. This can only lead to disappointment because human beings are fallible and therefore will never live up to our expectations, and material things will more than likely break down and/or lose their value.
When either of these things happen, we’re filled with a sense of pain, disappointment, insecurity, etc. because our sense of identity and well-being was dependent upon this attachment. And with this, the powerful emotional attachment instinct drives us to look for someone or something else to which we can attach to feel safe, loved, good enough.
If at this point the decision is to attach once again to something outside of ourselves i.e. human or material, it will inevitably lead to more disappointment and despair (for the previously stated reasons) and so, the cycle of pain and frustration continues... sometimes for an entire lifetime!!
It should also be said that at times the fear of being un-tethered, is so great that we instead remain in unhealthy relationships/ associations/ jobs.
Remember, this is all about Survival! None of it makes sense to the rational mind. The drive to feel emotionally safe and loved is intensely powerful and can easily override “common sense” or intellectual reasoning.
There’s Good News
Yes indeed, there’s good news!! It is completely possible to break this cycle of immense pain, frustration and despair. In fact, not only is it possible, it is HOW we mature and evolve has human beings.
Begin by understanding that:
- No one was put on to this earth to pick up the emotional tab for what did or didn’t happen early on in your life. As an adult, it’s now your responsibility to take over the job of ensuring your well-being. I know this may sound harsh however it’s one of those things that you can learn now or later but eventually we all have to come to terms with it.
- Even though it will go against all your survival instincts of the past, the way out, is in. The way out of this cycle of frustration and despair, is not to further attach to something/someone outside of you. It is to go within yourself and connect with the endless reservoir of power and love that lies within.
- So first, and importantly, turn your eyes within and breathe. Just breathe. This will re-direct your attachment instinct from looking outwards, to looking inwards. This is, without a doubt, one of the most defining characteristics of the transformational journey to Wholeness. With this, you are breaking your habitual and precarious behavior to looking outside of yourself for emotional security.
- Start with Conscious Breathing, every day, several times a day. Each time you return to it, you will be pressing the reset button and aligning the source of your emotional well being to a place within you.
When you do this, you will no doubt notice the restless nature of the mind and the emotions prompting you to look outwards once again. This is a very normal part of the journey. Don’t be dismayed by it, just keep returning the breath. In doing so you will be giving your mind, heart and body time to know a new sense of norm.
You may find that at times you are so close to your own issues that you can’t see the forest for the trees so, reach out! Talk to others. Work with someone who walked this path. You don’t have go through this alone!