One of the things we’re all supposed to work on, if we want to be happy and free people, is to address the issues that we have with attachment. And we all have them to some degree. When we have healthy attachment, we have healthy boundaries. Without them, we don’t.
As a pastoral medical counselor and a yogi, there are two slightly different meanings of this word, attachment.
In pastoral counselling there’s a clear sense of the therapeutic definition of having healthy attachment to care givers in our lives and people in our care. What this means is simply – having meaningful and authentic connections with people.
As a yogi, the meaning of the word “attachment” is really more about our expectations. Most people have certain preconceived ideas for what you want to have happen and, if your expectations aren’t met, you’re unhappy.
It’s not unreasonable to have certain expectations. But if your happiness depends on those expectations being met, the philosophy of yoga says, it will lead to unhappiness. In my group call yesterday, I used the example of when you show up at your yoga class and your regular teacher isn’t there, but there is someone in her place. You expected to see your teacher – that’s not unreasonable.
So, the question is, can you roll with that expectation not being met and take the class anyway, putting aside your disappointment and staying open to a new experience? Or do you stomp out of the studio, or maybe you can’t shake the feeling that the teacher has somehow let you down in a personal way?
The yogic and the therapeutic use of the term merges, though. And you can see it more clearly when we talk about relationships.
It’s here that it becomes very tricky for most people to navigate expectations and attachment.
Healthy attachment creates a container for people to be open and authentic in relationships and in life in general. When you’re constantly offering solutions to a person who isn’t asking for help, you’re actually being manipulative.
Even when my clients ask me for help and solutions, as a pastoral counselor, as a life coach, I start doing the work by asking more questions and helping them to find a meaningful solution.
If you grew up with a parent who was constantly fixing things for you, or you saw your parents handle your pain and distress with anxiety, you may not have had the kind of healthy attachment that is so important in early childhood.
And it’s important to understand that you may now have a very unclear sense of yourself, your expectations from others, and you might not even know what you’re capable of in achieving success in your life.
When parents understand that they actually CAN allow their children to have uncomfortable feelings and express their desires, without the parent having to fulfil the desires or make them feel better, it frees the parent to have a real connection to the child’s experience.
We can do that with friends and with our boyfriends or husbands, right? We can hold space for people by offering our attention in silence and just listening, without denying their feelings or the painful experience.
When a parent does this, it frees the child to mature and to get used to exploring possible solutions. If a parent tries to solve all the child’s problems, the child often begins to think that there is something wrong with them. They begin developing the expectation that someone else (if not a parent, then perhaps a prince) will be there to rescue them.
As adults, our relationships need to be more conscious and clear, even if we have had unhealthy attachments as children.
The first step to doing this, having healthy attachments and realistic expectations, is figuring out what you want your relationships to look like. You must figure out what you really want. What’s important to you? And then you create your own personal behavioral code of ethics around that with built-in consequences.
There are some things that you tolerate in relationships that you don’t have to be available for.
When I worked as the Director of Life Enrichment at a senior living community, my department developed and presented programs and services for aging adults address several pillars of wellness: social connections, physical fitness and health, intellectual development, vocational opportunities, and emotional support.
What I found was that, although all the areas of wellness are important, the happiest and healthiest people living in the community had meaningful relationships and friends they could rely on.
And what I’ve found working with students at the university and with private clients who are interested in self development or self actualization, is this: the people who are able to make meaningful changes to their lives and improve their habits that lead to a better life are the people who have good relationships and supportive partners. And if they didn’t have a supportive partner, they began to seek out and engage with a supportive group of friends.
Success looks different for everyone. For some, it has meant reversing or successfully managing a disease state, for others, success has been about permanently reducing body fat.
Healthy relationships help you reach your goals.
If you have desired outcomes that you’re trying to reach, and you’re not sure of the strategies to reach them, contact me and together we can explore whether private coaching or a group program can help you to become aware of and address any possible attachment issues that are standing in your way.
When you deal with these, you will actually become your most authentic, best, and highest Self.
Email me at email@example.com and let me know what YOU want in your life and how you want your life to be different. Comment below and share this with someone you think might be interested in reading about this.
Yoga and ayurveda are more than just a program of physcial activity and herbal remedies. T ogether they provide us with a holistic approach to wellbeing.