Tag Archives: growing awareness

A Path to Peace – Are You Bound by Your Attachments>

Imagine an individual who was self-absorbed to the point of being narcissistic, prone to outbursts and fits at modest provocations sometimes leading to self-destructive or outwardly abusive behavior. This person will swing wildly from rational to irrational with accompanied mood swings and personality shifts at the mere mention of certain words or names.
Does this person strike you as someone who could benefit from some clinical help?  Would you label them a little crazy?

Certainly sounds like someone who could use some help, but these are the outward manifestations we experience from attachments.  They are like a greedy little bully inside of us who absolutely must get it’s way or it lashes out in some harmful manner then burdens us with the consequences.  It may manifest internally as disappointment, depression, anger, resentment, disdain, disgust, or other ugly darkness. Outwardly, attachment might show up as tears, tantrums, aggression, verbal abuse, physical abuse and more.  Like a two year old screaming “mine mine mine!” unhealthy attachments open the door to acts of complete irrational behavior. Our responses to unmet attachments lead to physical and emotional stress that we could avoid if we could lose the attachment.  Detaching from unhealthy fixations in our lives is our path to peace.

Attachments show up in many ways, some obvious and some so are so sneaky it takes practice to spot them. Not all attachments are unhealthy as some serve us rightly. But even those can become harmful if not properly tempered with wise discernment. As the old saying goes: “There are two sides to every coin” and our attachments are no different. As with all things in life, there exists a balance between the dark and the light, the Yin and the Yang, the additive and reductive, the progressive and regressive… you get the point. Too much of a good thing can be harmful.

Basic human needs drive some of our attachments. The need for nutrition and sustenance can drive our attachment to food, which we might label as a healthy attachment but using food as a substitute for actually addressing some sense of lack in our lives can be harmful. For example, if we connect food with happiness and joy, we may tend to reach out for food anytime we feel less than happy and perhaps overindulge or consume items that are not in our highest and best interest.  Buying material goods can certainly serve us properly in life to meet basic needs. Shelter, safety, personal growth, etc, but spending with the expectation that an object will fill an internal void or fix an internal issue. This “Shopping Therapy” may lead to a temporary distraction from the pains in life, but this neither solves root issues within us that could be addressed, nor bring us actual peace.

Understanding when an attachment is healthy and when it is unhealthy is in my opinion the most important factor towards inner and outer peace. My benchmark for determining the healthiness of an attachment is this question: Does the attachment do myself or another individual any harm? If the answer is yes, then I take that opportunity to look within and drill down for the actual motivation for the attachment and when it is discovered, it is noted and work can begin to heal it.

Next up: Spotting Attachments so you can release towards peace.

 

Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional

wpid-wp-1365963486013I believe Buddha is usually attributed to this quote.  It doesn’t really matter but we’ll give the Buddhists the applause for having such clarity around suffering.

When you were a child and you touched the stove that you’d been warned not to touch, the resulting pain marked a moment that you may have forgotten about but created a lesson you will not forget. In that split second, you learned something to keep you safe — that stoves are hot and to pay attention when you are around them. (And, maybe, to listen to those voices around you when they call out warnings?  Ah, but that’s another post.)

And yet, while we all know that things cooked on a stove or in an oven are scorching hot, who among us has not reached for the piping hot pan at least once?  Even though you learned the lesson at an early age?  Hmm…….

What’s the difference then in the experience?  Is the pain any different now than from the first time you burned your finger?

Probably not. But I imagine, if you were like me, you suffered that first burn.  You cried. You sought help.  You cried some more. You got some cream and a band aid (and maybe a kiss). You showed the blister to your friends. You told them your horrible tale.  You popped the blister, picked the scab and retold the story. You may have found some sympathetic listeners or others who had similar experiences but in the quiet of the night, when that burn ached, you remembered how you did something you were not supposed to do and now you’re paying for it.

Now move forward in time to the last time you burned yourself……  other than an “Ouch!” did you suffer it? Our son trained to be a chef. He once burned his hand so badly that I was really concerned about him. He however, was unconcerned. It was just another burn he treated and his life moved on.

Interesting, isn’t it?  Perspective, life experience and coping tools change the very same pain from one that we suffer to one that is a minor blip in our life.

So, is there a pain in your life that you are suffering? Is it the first time you’ve felt this pain or is this one you’ve been dragging around for a while? Have you sought help and tools to aid its healing? Or are you telling your tale and taking the punishment over and over and over again?

You have it within you to release the suffering. Stop telling your story. Take steps to heal the pain and move away from those who encourage you to pick the scab. Seek supportive but not co-dependent people to call you out when you are standing in your suffering. Seek the higher call in the situation. Is there something you are supposed to be understanding or is it just an experience from which to draw future wisdom?  You don’t have to understand it right now.  You just need to not get stuck in it.

Living hurts sometimes. It sucks and sometimes it’s all you can do to take the next step.  But take it. And take another and another.  Choose to acknowledge that it hurts but the hurt is not going to take over your world forever.  Because burns heal.  They leave a mark, but it doesn’t hurt like it did when it first happened.  You don’t have to carry the story anymore.