“Attachment” Is A Response To A Perceived Threat

Just like “fight” or “flight”


Today I read on Twitter:

And well… I, too, was “today” years old when I learned this.

“Attachment” is a response to perceived risk

Laura K. Kerr PhD wrote,

“We have access to all possible defense reactions — fight, flight, freeze, submit, attach… the defenses we use are largely determined by past traumatic or potentially traumatic situations, along with our temperaments and our efforts to adapt to family, cultural, and ecological conditions. Such conditioning naturally influences how we adapt to present moment experiences.”

These “present moment experiences” include our relationships — where many of these tendencies, esp. attachment, show up a lot.

“Maybe you learned you had to fight... Or maybe you’ve come to see yourself as weak… Perhaps you caretake others so much you don’t even know your own needs… Or maybe you are so emotionally cut off from feeling fear, you treat life-threatening danger like it’s a Disney ride.”

Or maybe you respond to danger, threats, or fear with “attaching” yourself to someone or something that you hope will provide comfort.

All of us have some bad habit response that makes us feel a little safer, a “place” we go when we…

“regress to our own personal ‘lesser’ selves, that shell beneath the shell of basic functioning. Supposedly these are the times when we discover our character. In actuality, though, we’re just being our scared as shit selves.”

Fear is normal, however, and…

“It’s okay to be scared or stressed, except for… the reverberating impact that intense fear (including its dissociation or complete denial) can have on relationships.”

And, when it goes too far…

“Sometimes when fear or stress is intense, the problem isn’t so much the overwhelmingly scary or stressful thing happening in our lives, but how we deal (or don’t deal) with it.”

And one of those ways of not dealing with it is often “attachment.”

How to get over attachment (fear)?

First, realize what’s normal — i.e., what you, as a human, can be reasonably expected to deal with with minimum coping mechanisms.

Realize: uncertainty is the norm.

And: we don’t control the universe — or the outcome of every scenario, even including our own lives.

In short?

“A lot of the time we need to get over ourselves.”
— Laura K. Kerr PhD

“Attachment” is not love

The concept of holding something dear to us, and taking care of it — whether it’s an item, an idea, or a person — without becoming attached to it. It’s holding a thing gently, lightly. It’s allowing a thing to exist beyond ourselves, and what it means for us.

Attachment is about fear. And fighting against the entire universe.

Thing change — everything changes — and attachment to outcomes or situations is setting ourselves up for heartbreak.

I always like to share Huxley here:

“It’s dark because you are trying too hard. 
Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. 
Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. 
Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”
- Aldous Huxley, Island

And, as the Buddha shared:

“Desire is the root cause of suffering. The dropping of desire brings an end to suffering.“

This is not to say that we go through life without love; rather, that we redefine what “love” means, and accept a healthier alternative; a definition that does not involve addiction and craving, but rather lightness and compassion.

“To love is not to ask anything in return, not even to feel that you are giving something, and it is only such love that can know freedom.” ~ Jiddu Krishnamurti

Non-attachment does not mean “detached”

We love in the way we sit in the sun, orr hold sand — that is to say: lightly.

Love is:

“Not giving up the things in this world, but accepting the fact and to be continuously aware that nothing is permanent.” ~ Aditya Ajmera

It does not mean aloofness, indifference, apathy, but rather acceptance. It’s love without anxiety. It’s love without presumption. It’s love with lightness.

Practicing Non-Attachment In Your Life

A few steps:

  1. Seek security in yourself rather than externally
  2. Develop emotion boundaries, a separation of self and everything else
  3. Develop an awareness of how we’re interconnected to the universe, not just the object of our desire
  4. Develop a humility of the self

To love means giving them full range of motion, and space to exist in their lives. It means accepting that what we have will one day fade away — due to death or change. It means recognizing them as other people not responsible for our emotions — or emotional wellbeing. It means managing our own lived experience just as much as we allow them theirs. It is allowing them space to make mistakes, to be imperfect (forever), to have space to live their own lives that are separate from ours.