Attachment can become unhealthy
We all can become attached at some stage in our lives. We become attached to our parents or other caregivers when we are children. Attachment is seen as healthy and affirming when we are young.
When an attachment prevents us from seeing or acting clearly it has become unhealthy. Sometimes we become attached to other people. Sometimes to particular kinds of situations, or substances for example. Obsessive attachments as we know become addictions. When these kinds of attachments become obvious we will often seek help.
In the workplace, we can become attached to a particular culture, belief or perception about the way things are, or should be. We can become attached to our views of others and also about how relationships should be at work. People attached to maintaining the status quo are usually those who resist change.
We can become attached to an unhealthy point of view
A number of years ago I worked with a manager, who believed employee surveys weren’t helpful because in his view the survey gave people the opportunity to complain and only employees who had a grudge-filled in the survey. Hard-working employees did not have time to fill in the survey; they were too busy doing “real” work. Despite attempts to help him see the employee survey as an opportunity, he preferred to be right and his view prevailed. His survey results never did improve.
Often we don’t even realise we are unhealthily attached to our views, something or someone until we have to face physical, emotional, or intellectual change. An unhealthy attachment is actually a reaction to fear of change, or when letting go feels like we have to give up or sacrifice something we believe we need. It’s also human nature, and very few of us have the emotional intelligence and insight to completely avoid the pain unhealthy attachment brings.
Letting go of attachments can be scary
The problem with letting go of attachments is it feels scary. There is however a magical empowering alternative to attachment. We all need to form relationships with people and situations. We need to build a framework of beliefs and ideas so we can function. Instead of an attachment, we need to connect. Connecting is involving oneself emotionally, physically or intellectually without the fear of “giving up” or “sacrifice” unhealthy attachment is borne of. We know we can connect, enjoy and when the time is right, with love; let go.
How to let go of attachments
Below are some of the ways we can better navigate our lives by replacing the unhealthy attachment with a healthy connection.
Recognise when we are attached to people and instead re-frame into a healthy connection. We can intimately connect with our very close relationships. As you connect with others, rather than become attached, you are freer and can enjoy each other without the fear of loss. You realise people come into your life sometimes for a lifetime, and sometimes for a season.
Change suffering to empowerment
We might not realise we are attached to objects or situations until we have to face the pain of giving them up. How often do you hear sad stories of people who ruin or take their lives because of losses on the stock exchange for instance? “Giving up” can create depression and despair. “Letting go” is a healthy alternative. If we know we can enjoy our lifestyle, or our situation and be able to “let go” when the time is right, this attitude empowers us to live and enjoy the present.
Let go of our need to be right
Attachment to beliefs, attitudes and ideas can limit our lives tremendously. Reality is shaped by our beliefs. What we focus on becomes our world. By keeping an open mind and being prepared to examine and change limiting or unhelpful beliefs and thinking; we stay fresh and open to what life brings.
Be purposefully positive
Recognise when we are unhealthily attached to being negative and how negativity is limiting ourselves and others, in our lives and our workplaces. Holding onto negative views and conclusions will ultimately prove us right in the end
If the manager who dismissed his employee survey results by his fixed views about the respondents had been more open-minded; he might have been open to the possibility that even negative feedback was “valuable”. He could have taken the opportunity to engage with his people, acknowledge their perceptions and take action to positively impact them, and his results.
Good leadership development programmes should approach the psychological issues which can impact performance, although most don’t.
We all become attached and sometimes unhealthily, it is an ego trait which can cause unnecessary pain, suffering and resistance. If you find yourself attached, then with kindness and understanding, gently detach and reconnect. You will become magically empowered to live life more openly and freely, and after all isn’t such freedom what we all want?