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emotional attachment | Terezia Farkas | Beliefnet | depression help

 

Letting go of an unhealthy emotional attachment is not easy. Just think about your life. How many people do you have a relationship with who you either feel used by or use? Toxic people, negative beliefs, unrealistic dreams – all these are unhealthy emotional attachments.

Letting go of an unhealthy emotional attachment takes effort. Detaching yourself is a tough, long process that is emotionally messy. It will create emotional chaos. You will doubt yourself, lose patience, get angry and even be mean. You may end up binge eating, drinking, or smoking lots. But, getting rid of an unhealthy emotional attachment is worth the pain.

Realize you have an unhealthy emotional attachment.

The first step to any problem is realizing you have a problem. There’s the old tale of a lobster in a pot of water. Everything is good for the lobster. There’s lots of  water. But the stove gets turned on, and the water slowly gets warmer. The lobster doesn’t realize its in a bad situation until the end when it’s too late and is cooked.

Realizing you have a problem is just like that lobster. You may feel comfortable with the unhealthy attachment because its familiar, and something you know how to deal with. Or, you might feel like a helping angel which is okay and nice, but not when you’re being taken advantage of by someone.

Set a clear, easy to understand reason for detaching.

Once you realize there is a problem, set a reason for detaching. Your brain will trick you into believing the old life wasn’t that bad, and you can go back to it without it hurting you. So you need to firmly set out your reason for detaching. Make it clear. Make it simple. Write it out on a sheet of paper. Post that sheet on your fridge, mirror, bedroom door – where ever you need to see it as a reminder.

Be honest with yourself. Ask yourself if the reason is powerful enough to carry you through the times when you’ll doubt it and want to go back to the unhealthy attachment. Ask how you can do it. Ask when you can do it. Don’t put it off for later. Now is the moment you need to take action!

Release your pent in feelings.

Unhealthy emotional attachments carry lots of negative baggage. There’s anger, guilt, fear, repressed memories, pain, and maybe even abuse or trauma. Releasing your emotions is okay. Tell yourself its okay to scream, throw a temper tantrum, or cry. Getting in touch with your emotions is another step towards detachment.

The release of feelings at first will be like a watershed moment. Everything will gush out at once. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Those emotions run deep. They’ve been with you a long time. So it will take time and effort to release them all. Make sure you’re not hurting anyone or inflicting collateral damage. If you need to get professional help at this stage, do it.

Retrain your thoughts.

Now that you’ve realized your unhealthy emotional attachment, committed to detachment, and had a super release of corked emotions, its time to retrain your thoughts.

Start small. You need to relearn that you matter, that you deserve to be loved, and that you have something to offer the world. You know which one of these things is easier for you to do than the rest. Start with that one. Make it an idea that you like. “I matter because I’m terrific at…” or “I matter because I’m a mother.” Something that you can get behind and know is right on. Then build from there. And always keep the idea simple. If the idea gets too long or complicated, you’ll lose it.

Once you have at least three simple, easy ideas that you can recall instantly, you can go bigger. You can talk about your unhealthy emotional attachment without guilt or shame. You can confront the person. You can confront others who enabled the unhealthy relationship. Where you go is up to you.

Move forward without shortcuts.

Detaching from an unhealthy emotional attachment takes time. There’s no shortcut or way to avoid detachment pain. That pain can be brutal and hard to take. It can make a person back down and try to get back into the unhealthy relationship. But that pain is actually the same old pain you had in the unhealthy relationship. Your mind knows it’s the same pain. It’s your emotions that are lying to you, trying to convince you its a new pain. Time to move forward. Ditch that old pain and don’t listen to your screaming emotions.

Time to forgive.

One of the hardest things, and one of the final things in detachment, is forgiveness. To truly and finally detach there has to be forgiveness. You need to forgive the negativity of everyone involved. That includes yourself. Forgiveness lets you move forward in life. There’s no more reflecting on the past or any “what ifs”. The past happened. That’s that, as the saying goes. Looking at the past with rose-coloured glasses isn’t healing. It’s a wishful dream that keeps you strapped to the past. It’s time to look forward. Time to move forward.

If all else fails, get professional help.

Sometimes the amount of emotions that have been invested in an unhealthy relationship need professional help to properly sort through them. There may have been problems with anger or substance misuse. There may have been control issues, neglect, or abuse. These create their own issues that need professional attention and help.

Too often people with unhealthy emotional attachments feel victimized and afraid to ask for help. It’s not shameful to have been in a bad relationship. Realizing it and getting out are hard things to do. So if you need that extra support to heal yourself, go get it.

Hopefully these ideas can help you cut any unhealthy emotional attachments in your life. It’s a long process with no shortcuts. Take your time and get to know yourself again. Heal and find happiness!

Find me on twitter @tereziafarkas