Do you find yourself attached to something unhealthy?
It could be anything — a relationship, a substance, or even a really bad habit. You probably feel frustrated with yourself and confused as to why you keep doing what you know isn’t good for you. And you probably want to start being free, but you may not be sure how to do it.
Below is an overview of helpful ideas that can help you in the process of letting go.
1. Pay attention and admit it.
It can be easy to ignore whatever it is you’d rather get rid of. Then again, it may be so much in your face that you can’t ignore it. But if you haven’t already, you must start by admitting to yourself that you have a problem.
In order to do this, you also must understand that you are not bad for having this problem, and many others have dealt with the same sort of thing. If you see that this issue says nothing at all about who you are, and that attachment to negative things is part of being human, then you can admit the issue to yourself without being overwhelmed by self-blame.
2. Understand why you do it.
We all have a reason for doing what we do. Even the things we hate to do, even the things we try to let go of — they remain in our lives because something in us believes we want it.Yes, we always do what we want to do.
If you have not yet let go of your attachment, it is because part of you believes, for some reason, that you are better off with it. In other words, by holding on to your bad habits, you are trying to accomplish something, to get desires met, to get feelings of safety and control satisfied, or to remain comfortable.
3. See that your desires are not being met.
Of course you want to consider why you are doing things in order to give yourself insight and understanding. But it also serves another purpose. By seeing why you do what you do, you can ask if it is working. Are you getting what you’re looking for? If you see that your desires are not being met there, and completely, rather than partially, absorb that truth, then you can see you don’t really want it. And it’s only then that you will be ready to start letting it go.You can’t let go of something if you are not really sure you want to. You may be able to do a little letting go here and there, but to really move past this, you must be sure you want to completely.
Ask yourself: What is this negative attachment really doing for me? Chances are that rather than making you feel safe and joyful, you are feeling tired, anxious, unhappy about yourself and unable really to live a full life. While you may want control, this habit is making you totally out of control and making you live in hardship rather than peace. You may want love, but this relationship is making you feel unloved and if you are honest with yourself, you know it won’t change.
This thing may give you a sort of temporary relief. It is very temporary, however, and the effects are very unpleasant and much longer-lasting. Surface relief is not enough; the temporary comforting feeling is never totally comforting. It is usually only partly so (if at all), mixed with discouragement, shame, anxiety or emptiness.
So does this thing satisfy your desires for care, safety and joy? As you can see, they are not met here. Believe that and accept it. There is no changing the truth of how this attachment affects you. Accept that this is the way it is. No more excusing things, rationalizing or bargaining — this is just not the place to find answers.
4. Shift the focus to caring for yourself.
As much as you tend to focus on the problem, the addiction itself, it is really not about that. It is about you. It is about your well-being. Take this as an opportunity to ask yourself how you are doing and what you can do to feel better.Sometimes what you need to do first is start accepting yourself just as you are. Once you do that, and know that you are worth a healthy life, too, you can move into it, step by step.
Make yourself the priority. Even if this is a new thing for you, you can start investigating what it means to be kind to yourself, to look for ways to tend to your well-being. And you can show yourself the love that maybe you have been wanting to find.
When you change a bad habit, you must fully understand and remember that you are truly valuable and worth the effort. If the habit has been hurting you, you are in every way worth letting go of it. If it has been difficult for you to love yourself enough to treat yourself well, then it is time to be free of the lie that you are not good enough. You are.
5. Embrace hopeful thoughts.
Here are some examples:
- There is great joy in becoming free. You can focus on what you would lose or how hard it would be, but you forget that the reason you let go is to be opened to more joy. You feel more confident, more peaceful, more joyful. You can take in a big breath, smile, and simply feel good. Sometimes it is not until we taste freedom that you understand how wonderful it really is. Meditate on the fact that it is far better than the captivity you have been in.
- There is a healing that can happen in you, if you so need. If you carry around past wounds, you can be understanding with yourself. Embrace yourself and tell yourself that from now on you will take care of that person in you that was injured. This can be your opportunity to address stuff that has needed attention for some time, and it doesn’t have to be seen as scary. It can be seen as a wonderful thing that will lead you into a better time in your life.
- There is a real and good plan for your life. God has a particular plan for your life. He wants to bless you and to make things new. There can be much more joy and peace and love than what you have experienced so far. Consider that you have a certain purpose for being here and that it is good. Ask God to guide you into it.
Negative, critical thoughts do not make us better at life. They make us feel stuck, weak and unmotivated to move forward. It is choosing to look at things positively that will empower us to do the right things. Find the hope that new beginnings are always possible, no matter what.
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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 20 Aug 2012
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.
Mazarin, J. (2012). 9 Practical and Spiritual Tips for Letting Go of Unhealthy Attachments. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 6, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2012/08/20/9-practical-and-spiritual-tips-for-letting-go-of-unhealthy-attachments/