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How to Break Emotional Attachment to Things

October 4, 2022

This woman looking into the sunset found that her emotional attachment to things was her trying to fill a void

Introduction: How to Break Emotional Attachment to Things

When it comes to ridding your life of clutter, one of the hardest things to do is to break your emotional attachment to things. Whether it’s a piece of clothing you’ve had for years or a trinket given to you by a loved one, getting rid of things can be tough. But it doesn’t have to be! So, how to break emotional attachment to things?

In the article, we will define emotional attachment and go over the steps to breaking the attachment.

Man throwing an item out onto a field in order to break emotional attachment to things

What is Emotional Attachment?

Emotional attachment is when a person feels a strong emotional connection to something. This could be an object, a place, or even another person. For some people, emotional attachment can make it difficult to let go of things, even when they no longer serve a purpose. Not all emotional attachment is necessarily bad. For example, a child may be emotionally attached to their parents because it ensures survival. However, in other cases, people may become attached to things that are harmful to them.

There are many reasons why people may become attached to things, but it is important to remember that attachments can be unhealthy and lead to feelings of anxiety or depression. If you find yourself attached to things, there are some steps you can take to break the attachment. Breaking emotional attachment to things can be difficult, but it is possible.

Letters writing out let go which is a message for those researching how to break emotional attachment to things

When Does it Get Unhealthy?

If you are wondering how to break emotional attachment to thing, you may wonder if your attachment is healthy or not. So, when does emotional attachment become unhealthy? Sometimes emotional attachment to things becomes unhealthy when a person starts to rely on the thing or person for their happiness or self-worth. The attachment can also become unhealthy if it causes a person to neglect their other responsibilities or important relationships.

There are several signs that may indicate an unhealthy attachment as opposed to a healthy, secure attachment. These include feeling anxious or depressed when the thing or person is not around, going to extremes to acquire or keep the thing, and feeling like you cannot live without the thing or person. Moreover, unhealthy emotional attachments often control one’s life and alters the way they behave and think.

While anyone can develop an unhealthy attachment to something, these attachments are often harmful and can lead to further difficulties in life. People with unhealthy emotional attachments may have trouble letting go of possessions, even when they no longer serve a purpose or bring joy. This can lead to hoarding behaviors and a general inability to live a decluttered life. If you are concerned that your emotional attachment to something is becoming unhealthy, it is important to talk to a trusted friend or professional for help.

Journal alongside a cup of coffee and a plant of somebody trying to break emotional attachment to things

What Causes Unhealthy Emotional Attachments to Things?

Some of us may struggle with how to break emotional attachment to things It is not uncommon for people to develop unhealthy emotional attachments. There are a number of factors that can contribute to this. One of the most common contributors is unresolved childhood issues. If someone experienced trauma or neglect during their childhood, they may have difficulty forming healthy attachments to people and things later in life. Additionally, people who have trouble forming close relationships with others may turn to inanimate objects for joy. Moreover, people who have experienced trauma or loss in their life may be more likely to form attachments to objects as a way of coping with their pain.

Moreover, people who have difficulty regulating their emotions may also be more prone to becoming attached to things as a way of managing their feelings. Finally, mental illness can also play a role in unhealthy emotional attachments. Someone who is struggling with depression, anxiety, or another mental health disorder may be more likely to form an attachment that is unhealthy for them.

Emotional Attachment and Suffering

Some religions, such as Buddhism, teach that the root of suffering is attachment. When we get attached to people, places, and things, we create suffering in our lives. We suffer because we fear losing our attachments. We also suffer because our attachments prevent us from enjoying the present moment. Thus, to end suffering, we need to break our attachments. So, how can we break free from emotional attachment?

Butterfly on a man's finger as he learns to let go of unhealthy emotional attachments to things

Steps to Breaking the Attachment

If you’re finding it difficult to let go of an emotional attachment, whether it’s to a person, object, or idea, there are some steps you can take to break the attachment. Consider the following steps to break emotional attachment to things (or persons!):

Acknowledge the Problem

Breaking an emotional attachment to material objects can be difficult, but it is possible with some effort. It’s important to first acknowledge the problem. You can’t solve a problem that you don’t acknowledge or recognize. When you become aware of an emotional attachment, be it to a person or material thing, bring the issue to your attention so that you can begin working on it. Perhaps, you may even consider journaling about it so that you may set a goal to release unhealthy emotional attachments.

Seek to Understand Your Attachment

Next, try to understand what it is that’s holding you back. If you wonder how to break your emotional attachment to things, it’s important to take a step back and examine why you have unhealthy emotional attachments to things. What need or void does this attachment fill?

Many people get emotionally attached to material things because they believe that these things will make them happy. They think that if they just had that new car or that bigger house, they would finally be content. However, this is not true. Studies have shown that after a person buys a new car or house, their happiness level goes back to normal within a few months (i.e., hedonic adaptation). This means that the happiness was not coming from the car or the house, but from something else entirely.

Thus, once you know why you have an unhealthy emotional attachment, you can begin to work on finding other ways to satisfy that need. For example, if you lack self-love, you may start incorporating self-love practices like mindfulness or yoga into your everyday life.

A hand-clock and a picture symbolizing things we hold emotional attachments to
Learning to Let Go

After you acknowledge the problem and try to understand why you have unhealthy emotional attachments, it is important to learn how to let go. This is the true key of how to break emotional attachment to things. Here are some tips for learning to let go:

  1. Acknowledge your feelings. It’s okay to be sad, angry, or upset when you’re letting go of something important to you. Allow yourself to feel those emotions and let them pass. Remember, our emotions do not define us. They are simply visitors to our mind and bodies.
  2. Be grateful for what you had. Take a moment to appreciate what that thing meant to you and the good memories you have attached to it.
  3. Focus on the present. Once you let go of things, you have more space in your life for new things that serve you.
  4. Try to practice mindfulness as it helps you stop dwelling.
Moving on with Life

Letting go means moving on with your life. Moving on from emotional attachments can be difficult, but it is possible. In order to move on and break emotional attachment to things, take a moment to express some gratitude for what the experience taught you and how it has pushed you to grow as a person. After all, it is said that every attachment has a message.

Moreover, to fully move on with life from attachment to things, consider practicing non-attachment. This Buddhist concept, non-attachment, is not about not having emotions or caring for things; it’s about detachment from the outcomes. It’s about letting go of the need to control everything and instead learning to flow with life. It’s about accepting that everything is ultimately fleeting. This allows you to enjoy moments without having the longing or desire to make it last forever.

One of the best ways to start practicing non-attachment is to meditate. Meditation helps us become more aware of our thoughts and emotions, and it allows us to see them for what they are: transitory. Once we see that our thoughts and emotions are not permanent, it becomes easier to let them go. Another way to break emotional attachment is through mindfulness. Mindfulness allows us to be present in the moment without judgment. All in all, non-attachment is great to practice in your everyday life in order to reduce unhealthy attachments and suffering.

Scrabble letters spelling out let it go as a message for those wondering how to break emotional attachment to things

Tips to Declutter

Lastly, here are some few practical tips to help you declutter if you find yourself hoarding a lot of things that you are emotionally attached to

  1. Start with the easy stuff. If you have items that you know you don’t need or want, get rid of them first. This will help you get into the decluttering mindset and make it easier to let go of other items.
  2. Be honest with yourself. When you’re looking at an item, ask yourself why you’re keeping it. If you can’t come up with a good reason, it’s time to let it go.
  3. Think about the future. Ask yourself how you will feel if you haven’t used an item in a year. If it’s not something that you think you’ll use, let it go
  4. Donate items to charity. There are many organizations that accept donations of clothing, furniture, and other household items.
A sea with a bunch of rocks that symbolize letting go and being present to break emotional attachment to things

Conclusion: How to Break Emotional Attachment to Things

In conclusion, breaking emotional attachment to things can be difficult, but it is possible. It may take some time and effort, but it will be worth it in the end. After all, it can be beneficial to focus on enjoying experiences rather than objects. You will be able to live a more peaceful and joyful life without all the baggage that comes with attachment.