Moving forward in life can seem very daunting.
Where do you start?
The best place to begin is by letting go of attachments and bad habits that are keeping you down.
Let’s go over some of the most common attachments that sap energy, attention and potential.
Here’s what to avoid:
1) Sex, drug and alcohol addiction
Sex is a beautiful thing, but it can also become an addiction and a way to try to fill an emotional void. If it’s gotten to that stage, it’s dragging down your energy and serving as a form of escapism.
As ugly as it is, that emptiness inside can help guide you to your path in life if you face it honestly without flinching.
The same goes for alcohol and drugs. You may enjoy them in moderation, but if it’s reached the stage where you depend on substances to feel able to face the world, they’ve become an unhealthy attachment.
Find ways to reduce your use and to move away from addictive behaviors that you use to escape from pain.
2) Past regrets or vendettas
Another form of attachments which can really hold you down in life are past regrets or vendettas.
Somebody, social institutions or even things like illness may have held you back in very painful ways. You may regret years of your life you consider lost, or you may want revenge on people or aspects of society you resent.
But focusing on this is a drain to your energy and prevents you from proactively channeling your energy into forward motion.
When they say that the best form of revenge is success, they’re not lying.
The focus on what didn’t work out in the past and in who you want to get back for what they did is something to let go and channel into your forward momentum rather than backward-looking bitterness.
3) Relationship codependency
Among the most damaging connections that can occur is relationship codependency.
This often occurs when one partner inhabits the “savior” role while the other is in the “victim” role, but it can also take many other forms.
Codependency isn’t love, or at least it’s a distortion of love. It makes both of you dependent on each other for your sense of wellbeing and always feeling that you fall short of that goal.
In short, codependency is an addiction and an attachment.
Letting go of the idea that somebody else can make you happy or “fix” you (or that you can make them happy or “fix” them) is a crucial, key part of moving forward in your love life (and life overall).
4) Smartphone overuse
Smartphones are a wonder of technology and they’re extremely useful.
At the same time, they can become a real time sink and lead to quite a bit of dependency.
When you use your smartphone so much that it becomes like an appendage of your body and you experience anxiety even a few minutes away from it, you’re overusing it.
Learning to take short digital detoxes and refrain from browsing social media or checking texts for an hour or two can be a great way to slowly regain control of your life.
Smartphones are great, but remember that it should be you who uses them, not them who use you.
5) Video game addiction
A close counterpart to smartphone addiction and technology overuse is video game addiction.
This is fairly common these days, and recent statistics indicate that around 6 million Americans are seriously and unhealthily addicted to video games.
The global rate of video game addiction is estimated at around 4%.
Playing a game you enjoy on your phone, on your computer or on a gaming console can be a relaxing and stimulating experience.
But when it becomes your go-to activity or you find that real life pales in comparison to your video game playing then there’s an attachment that’s best to let go of.
6) Online flame wars
Another unhelpful attachment is the need to be right, both online and offline.
Knowing you’re right or feeling sure of your beliefs is great. But feeling the need to have that recognized is something else and can become a real attachment.
In terms of online activity it often manifests as flame wars, or long threads where you argue back-and-forth with others about topics you care about (and even some topics you don’t care about).
It can become such an addiction that you end up spending your days thinking of the perfect comeback or how you can show somebody’s hypocrisy to the whole world.
What do any of us really get by showing how 69DonutMan is an idiot online?
Food is delicious and cooking is also an enjoyable and rewarding activity.
But overeating can quickly become an attachment and is also commonly linked with trying to fill a sense of emptiness inside.
You get attached to the carbs or the high fats, salts and sugars as a kind of old friend who understands you. They make you feel drowsy and satisfied after, at least until the next day when you want more.
Not only is overeating unhealthy, it also leads to long-term psychological effects of lethargy and lack of motivation.
In fact, there are also clear links between binge-eating and developing depression.
A close companion of overeating is oversleeping.
When you oversleep something ironic happens:
Instead of being more rested, sleeping too late and getting up too late leads to feeling even more lethargic and drained.
That’s because you’ve sent your body the message that it’s hibernation time and that you can relax and just sleep it off.
The more you sleep the more you want to sleep, until you get attached to the restful quality of sleep and find yourself taking half-day naps (been there!)
Oversleeping can definitely become a kind of addiction and is something that’s best addressed by setting firm schedules and getting up at least early-ish!
I truly believe that some amount of comparing ourselves to others is natural, and sometimes even healthy.
But when it gets to the level of obsession and fixation, it becomes an unhealthy attachment and drags us down.
Point-scoring can occur in many contexts, and it’s never a benefit to your life or your mindset.
It happens when you start seeing how well you’re doing compared to others in your salary, your relationships, your possessions and even your personal wellbeing.
“Well, I’m definitely having a happier life than Jim,” or “I guess Charlotte chose a way better career than me, I should try to get a promotion” are examples of point scoring.
This ties directly into the next point…
We all need to earn a living and caring about material possessions is natural, starting with a home and a way to get from point A to point B.
But materialism is a different beast.
This is when your pursuit of material gain, profit and shinier toys starts to take over your life.
You become so focused on buying new things and what you own that you forget to actually live life.
You become so attached to the kind of point-scoring I mentioned earlier, that your relationships and self-awareness begins to decline.
11) Being liked
It’s nice to be liked by other people, but it should never be a focus of your life.
From a young age, we crave the approval and affection of our parents and then our siblings and peers. If this craving doesn’t mature into self-sufficiency, it can become people-pleasing.
People-pleasing is a difficult attachment, because on the surface it seems harmless: you want to make other people happy, what’s wrong with that?
The answer is that it leads to centering your fulfillment outside yourself, disempowering yourself and setting up an impossible task.
You can’t make everyone happy all the time, and letting go of this need is a huge step forward in being yourself and following your dreams without looking over your shoulder.