How to Practise Non-Attachment in Your Relationships
‘You can only lose what you cling to’
I've been interested in the concept of non-attachment in relationships for aeons now – mainly because, for aeons, I was fundamentally BAD at it. And it’s perhaps something that I still find slightly difficult. The idea of loving someone and not attaching my very heart and soul – not to mention my hopes and dreams and fears and worries on to that person - seems slightly strange to me.
Because if you LOVE someone, if you are IN love with someone – you hold on to that person, and to that feeling fiercely, right? You do all that you can to ensure that that someone stays, and that life does not deviate from how you need it to be ... yes?
Think for a moment about all of the relationships – romantic or otherwise – that you have been involved with in your life. As a child, you likely relied mostly on your parents for your needs and comfort. As you grew, your friends, to a large extent, took over the reins as the most influential people in your world. Then came your first romantic relationship, followed by the next. Then perhaps marriage, and children, and so forth.
All of these people served a very important purpose in your life whilst they were a part of it. Some may still be in your life; others likely aren't. And when one person or group of people departed your reality, another or others likely stepped in and filled both the space in your life, and the void in your heart. Thus is the nature of life.
When we become fixated and attached to ONE particular person, or more precisely to our IDEA of that person - and WHO and HOW we want that person to be to make us happy and meet our needs, we inevitably run in to strife and suffering. Recognising and acknowledging the impermanence of life and its inhabitants - and the incapability of any ONE to meet all of our needs - is our antidote to this suffering.
And this is where the beautiful concept of non-attachment comes in to play. To be clear, non-attachment does NOT equal indifference. In fact, to love without attachment or condition is one of the most loving and compassionate things we can do for a person for whom we care DEEPLY. This is because when we love someone without clinging to them, and obsessing over them, and projecting our fears and issues on to them, we are recognising that we alone are responsible for our wellbeing and happiness.
We are not obligating another with what is ours - we are doing the opposite. We are willing to love with the full knowledge that one day the partnership may end, as all things eventually end. We know that we will go through uncertainty and pain and loss and heartache, yet because we understand that nothing external is ever really permanent, we look inside ourselves for the love and validation we crave. We learn to embrace this love as we know that it is truly unconditional and can never be taken from us. With this certainty, we then make the decision to love others WITHOUT FEAR.
With love inside of us, we are able to look at life through an objective lens, rather than attaching our personal fears and stories to the situations we encounter. We accept what comes to us, and allow it to leave when it’s time, all with the knowledge that what is meant for us will be with us without force or effort.
This is a lesson that was delivered to me - as most worthwhile lessons are - through a massive dose of heartache. Whilst married, I was very much attached to the idea or notion of being a wife. It was all that I knew and all that I wanted. The ending of my marriage – the biggest thing to have happened to me EVER - was something that I could not foresee or change. It just happened, and it effectively tore to shreds ALL of my previously held (and very limiting) beliefs surrounding love, and what it meant to love another.
I now strive to love without attaching my tentacles – not to mention my fears and doubts – to the person on the receiving end of this love. Even if I am still perfecting the actual art of non-attachment, I am acutely aware of the immense value and beauty it can bring to all of our lives.
Because we all love. And we all should. But by choosing to look at love a little differently, by choosing to appreciate the present moment in its entirety, and to let go of the fears and worries for which we have no control, we allow ourselves the freedom to live and love without fear. Now could there be anything more beautiful than that?
What do YOU think of the idea of non-attachment? Share in the comments!
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