What’s the difference between an attachment and a healthy relationship? And, why does it matter? Well, it’s only been in the past year, really, that I can really make this distinction. What does that mean?
Well, I hold a degree, actually two of them, that stipulate that I know about this distinction. Yep. And, while those pieces of paper are in frames, and the person writing this article does have intellectual information about the theoretical differences between attachment and healthy relationships, that is not knowing.
Alright, you are doing very well, stay with me. One more distinction.
Holding intellectual information means that you have a grasp, even expertise, in understanding a particular topic or subject. This is a true statement. Does it then follow that because you have intellectual information about a subject or topic that you also know about that topic or subject? No. Why?
Because to know something, really know it, in your head and your heart, you must have lived through it. It is the only way. It must be experienced.
While many people can theorize about the difference between attachment and healthy relationships, they only really know the difference if they have lived through something that has shown them that difference. Which is why I have only recently learned, and now know, about this distinction. And, it is an important one.
Here is a good example.
intellectual The adjective intellectual describes something related to or using the mind or intellect. Your creative pursuit of singing in a rock band is different from your intellectual interest in 16th-century drama.
In the above example, singing in the rock bank is known because it is being done, lived, it is real. While the intellectual interest in 16-century drama is purely theoretical, made up of ideas. The person that has intellectual information of 16-century drama can never know what being in a 16-century drama is like. Phew. Okay, I think that covers it.
Now let’s create the distinction between attachment and healthy relationships. The distinction between the two is important because many people believe they are in a healthy relationship with someone, when they are actually only attached. They are not really in a healthy relationship.
Attachmentand Healthy Relationships
It is important to understand that we are all attached to people, things, and objects. Attachment is a deep feeling we have for someone or something. These attachments will correspondingly drive our behavior, whether we are aware of it or not.
Because our attachments will drive our behavior and reciprocally our emotional state, they can often be destructive, especially in adulthood.
And, especially in relationships that don’t work so well. Why?
Because when we have a deep emotional attachment to someone, we will continue to stay close to that person even when it is unhealthy for us to do so. Think about the relationships you’ve had, or may have right now.
Do you have any that don’t work so well, yet you continue to stay in relationship with that person? We’ve all been there. That is attachment at work.
Of course, you can love someone, also be attached, and still not be in a healthy relationship. Also important to understand. Often people also confound love, and the attachment that comes with that love, with a healthy relationship.
It is particularly difficult the longer you are with the person; and, can be extremely painful when you finally make the choice to leave the relationship.
In effect, attachment can cloud our decision and choice-making process on leaving relationships that we are better off leaving. Difficult.
What Can We Do?
You can notice how you feel, how you think. Do you have an inner knowing that your relationship is not working, yet you stay?
Remember, if your inner-knowing acknowledges the relationship as not working, it is not a demerit. It happens to everyone at some point in their life.
When you know, you have a choice. You can stay, and continue to feel and think one way, yet act in a different way. However, know that when we feel and think one way, and act out of accordance with this knowing, we will be out of balance. Leading us to have more anxiety and frustration.
And, of course, when we have more anxiety and frustration, we are not being healthy to ourselves, or our partner. Really.
Know also that you can love someone completely, and still know that leaving is needed.
I’ve been thinking a lot this week about creating the future. Creating the future we want to live into, what will be, while also reflecting upon the deep attachment we all have to what was, or the past. What’s created the space for such reflections? And, why do these reflections matter to the future we plan to live into? Let’s take a look.
The COVID-19 health crisis has created the space for these reflections, as every day, people, including myself, continue to have new experiences, both at home and work.
These new experiences are a product of an unplanned event that has disrupted life as we once knew it. What we once knew as our reality is over. Gone. The “new normal” people often refer to will look nothing like what once was.
Inside of this understanding I think about how hard that has been, and will be for many people. An impossibility for some, as it once was for me, as humans are deeply attached to the ways they understand their lives, thus reality. It will be continue to be painful for people to let go of that previous reality, the past.
People that are unable to let go of their old views of life, will meet untold challenges in our new reality, and our coming future reality. Why? Because those behaviors and actions may not mesh well with our future reality.
Though I have no idea what that reality will look like, I do know that preparing for, and creating the new life you want to live into will be needed and necessary.
What can we do to prepare for this future reality? Start creating now. Don’t wait. What might that look like?
Here are some strategies I use that you might try.
Journal – start to write about the new life you want to live into.
Here are some questions I use to get my thinking started.
What do I want that future life to look like?
What do I want to create for myself, both personally and professionally?
Write down your goals – you know, the ones that you’ve wanted to achieve, yet have not been able to do so.
Make lists of them. You can even start to plan them out. Start a year or two out, and work backwards to today.
Take action – one of the most important steps in creating that future life, is to start living it now. When you are clear about your goals, create actions that you can take today to start to bring them to life.
Here is a picture of a very simple, what I call whiteboard post-it, that my youngest son and I created with goals we both want to acheive.
I labeled this board strategic thinking as I was teaching my son about the difference between reacting to an already existing environment, the one we are currently attached to, and creating a new future reality that we can live into. And, that is a part of strategic thinking.
It matters less how you begin to create that new life, than it does that you take action today and begin to create it. What will stand in your way? Fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of being told it can’t happen, by yourself, and by others.
Let me be the first to tell you that it can happen; and, you are the only one that can make it happen. You can do it.
How do I know this? I know this because I live it today. I live it in my personal, and professional life. As some of you may know, however, living this way was not always my life, or my reality. My reality was once predicted predominantly on the past. What was.
As difficult as it is, we must let go of the past.
There is a shift in thinking, and your corresponding awareness to live this way. Yet, if I can do it, so can you. It simply requires creating new goals within the new life you want to create, and taking actions that align with these goals, and that life.
As we enter new phases of the COVID-19 health crisis, continuing to reflect upon, and create new actions inside of the life we want to create and live is available to us all. You simply have to take action. Take one step. Then take another. One step, and one action at a time.