Defining Attachment

It occurred to me that my personal usage of this word is incredibly narrow, and that many people reading these posts might benefit from some clarification.

I draw from two main sources in defining this concept. First, there is a Buddhist notion that attachment to corporeality leads to continued reincarnation, and that the life-death cycle is the source of human suffering. Now, I’m by no means an expert on the subject, but I understand this to mean that elimination of all worldly attachment is one of the core methods of ending that suffering. To be clear, I am more of the opinion that we learn from our suffering, but I will explain this more in a moment.

The second source of my current usage of the word ‘attachment’ is the definition used in the branch of psychology about the concept, namely attachment theory. A number of theorists have posited their own definitions, and so I will give my best approximation of the general concept insofar as it influences me. We have attachment to our primary caregiver in infancy and childhood, and when we become adults, that attachment transfers to a partner (along with any of the patterns associated with it). I wrote about this in more detail at one point, and I will make a post about it soon.

So my definition of attachment, as I am using it in these posts, is that pattern of behaviours I have with partners which transcends the individual partner and is the source of unnecessary suffering within the partnership.

As I began to clarify above, I believe we learn from our suffering, so I am not trying to eliminate it entirely; however, I am currently of the opinion that there is such a thing as unnecessary suffering — that which we do not learn from. I believe the only way to eliminate such suffering is by ensuring that we are trying to learn from all our suffering. Also, the patterns I carry that transcend my partnerships seem to put unnecessary strain on my partners. This strain has likely been the main contributor to the demise of every partnership I’ve been in to date.

So my goal is to eliminate the unhealthy emotional patterns that contribute to unnecessary suffering for myself and those brave enough to get close to me.

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