We all have life stories, or backstories, that arise from our upbringing and experiences. These stories have the ability to either take energy and capacity from, or add them to, our lives.
A negative outcome of the stories we tell ourselves is attachments. Attachments sound as though they should be positives. After all, it’s not a bad thing to be attached to things, is it? Not unless those attachments become essential to our well–being—like a child’s favourite toy that they won’t go anywhere without—which is okay when you’re three, but not at 23 or 33!
Hoarding is a version of attachment, where people are unable to throw out things they don’t need, even things that are broken, because they have come to have emotional significance for the person or they remind them of something that has been important to them in the past.
Attachment to people
Attachments can also be to people. This is healthy if the relationship is sound and mutually supportive, but unhealthy or abusive attachments are not okay, nor are co-dependent relationships that enable abuse through attachments. And attachments can take the shape of seeking approval or affection from particular people – parents, significant siblings, friends and workplace or business colleagues. Such attachments can see us continually striving to impress or to receive a word of praise.
Attachment to identity
One of the strongest attachments we can have is to our identity – how we see ourselves. My identity, for much of my adult life, was modelled on what I saw in my mum – a self-contained independent woman who valued being in control. It took me a long time to recognise that my identity was an assumed one. And I had to learn how to let go of my attachment to this perceived identity as it wasn’t authentic and it was not healthy for me long-term.
The flip side to attachments is connections – with our true selves and with others.
Connections are influences, networks, links, associations, bonds and ties. They are those people, events and emotions that link us in positive ways to other people and to the future.
There is a real intentionality about connections. While an attachment can form unconsciously in childhood, as adults we choose to connect. And we can choose who and what we connect with. There are obviously some connections we do not get to choose – like family. However, even within family we can choose how connected we are to different members. We can choose to allow certain people to be influencers in our lives.
Connections allow us to grow, to be associated with people, ideas and experiences that stretch us, challenge us, even confront us. Connections enable us to grow rather than to drag us down or belittle us. As I let go of my attachment to my perceived identity, I found I could connect more readily with my authentic self. I discovered I am more wilder-woman/gypsy goddess than buttoned-down control-freak.
Time to connect the dots
At the start of a new year, reflect on what may our own unhealthy attachment. Also start to foster intentional connections to aid both ourselves and others.
If you would like to work with an experienced potential coach to take you to the next level in leading your life, work or career, book into my next online Connect the Dots Masterclass.
Do you want to connect in person with other women who lead? Then register for my next Connect the Dots Panel Evening – full of fun and wisdom.
You may be looking for a keynote speaker. Then check out my speaker site – I speak on thriving after domestic abuse and unconscious bias.
I’m happy to send you a complimentary copy of The Six Pillars of Thriving, designed for women who are rebuilding life after domestic abuse.