What is attachment? My son asked me this loaded question when he was 16 years old.
We are born in this world and learn rather quickly the dependence on our parents, our toys and our surroundings as they fulfill our physical and emotional needs. In order to thrive we build our personality around these relationships. If we have strong imposing parents we either learn to be dutiful, submissive and/or a pleaser in order to nurture our dependence. At the end of the day we all want to be loved and accepted.
As we grow up and step outside our homes, we shape ourselves to fit into the new surroundings. Our need to be integrated, accepted and receive acknowledgement from others keeps us motivated to perform better. We gravitate towards people or objects that help us feel complete. We start getting attached to them and feel hurt and suffer when we do not get validation and acceptance from them.
When love is combined with expectations it becomes attachment.
Attachment triggers the need to perform and experience various emotions, as it is a chord that ties us to objects or people. Any shift in the attached object or person affects us, like puppets we get tied to those strings. As a result we develop emotional intelligence and experience diverse feelings. So attachment does aid in our emotional growth from that point of view.
However, attachment is conditional and anything that is conditional goes through roughs and peaks. We feel pressurized to perform to get more adulation and acceptance from people we are attached to. When conditions are favorable we feel joyful and suffer when our needs are not met. This is where we need to know when to jump off the sinking boat. When we start drowning in our emotions, needs and attachments, we know it is time to let go. It is time to sail on a stable boat that does not rock with highs and lows of emotions.
Attachment is like a backward bending demand and supply chart. Initially the increase in demand and supply go upwards, but afterwards excessive supply becomes not that desirable. The graph starts to bend backwards. Similarly, attachment helps our growth up to a point as we become more sociable, responsible and emotionally connected. When we get attached we find a purpose to live and grow. But excessive dependence on these external and variable factors are undesirable for our growth and stability as we start collapsing.
This is when we have to reassess our needs and relationships. How much are we in need-based relationships with others? How can we serve our self so that we can love others without the need and expectation? Would we help in our growth if we start accepting and loving our self unconditionally?
Is attachment nothing else but dependence?