Attachments – How to Notice and Release Attachments to Uncomfortable Thoughts

 

3 Steps to Release Attachments to Thoughts and Feelings

We attach ourselves to people, places, things, ideas, beliefs, the past, the future, the outcomes, fears, blame, fate…

But what one attachment serves us all?

None. No attachment… attachment to nothing.

So how do we do that?

Smile, smile often, smile always.

Laugh, laugh often, laugh always.

Love, love often, love always.

Breathe, breathe often, breathe always.

Release, release often, release always.

Repeat, repeat often, repeat always.

It doesn’t take much to disengage from thoughts, feelings, people, places, things- but it does take one main thing:

Awareness.

Are you aware when you repeat bad situations in your head, either imagined or real, over and over again?

Are you aware when your brows furrow, your muscles tense, and your jaw clenches?

What about when you feel insulted, offended, annoyed?

No one needs that. In fact, it’s detrimental in life to worry, to obsess, to point a finger.

Release attachments, one step at a time…

FIRST, become aware.

Often, this is the only step needed when overcoming attachments. Awareness is the first step to change, to heal, to release blame of any sort- whether toward yourself or toward others.

SECOND, breathe into the thought or feeling.

One last time. Think of it as an ear-worm. To get rid of it, you have to expose yourself to the song, listen to it in full to get it out of your head. So relive that icky feeling, that accusatory thought, and all the harshness it collected and created. Fele it, live it. And as you do so, inhale. Inhale deeply, feeling whatever you’re feeling, thinking whatever you’re thinking…. And then on the exhale, destroy that thought or feeling. Mentally blow it up, burn it down, evaporate it, send it away. And after the breath ends, and you’re left with a pause between another breathe, see the ashes, witness the absence of that thought/feeling. When the breath is over, so, to, is the distracting thought or feeling. If, on the first breath you still feel remnants of the situation, the pain of attachment, take another breath, destroying again, the thought or feeling. Beat it, repeatedly with breath, over and over, until it is nothing…. Stillness.

THIRD, Thank the space.

Thank it HARD. It was difficult to release those attachments, and even though the way to do so was easy in retrospect, mustering up the awareness, and setting in motion the practice to release those feelings for the greater good took effort. So be proud. Be proud of your courage, of your openness to change. See your strength of will, pat your own back- scream it to the world how awesome you’ve just been. Relish this moment.

Remember that a new time for releasing attachments will arise, but you’ve shown you can handle when that time comes again. Big or small, realized or imagined, you can release attachments to thoughts, situations, feelings, and begin again.

A brand-spanking-new-you.

Giggles for Gratitude- A Visualization Technique that Gets You Grounded

I have no clue how, when, or whereabouts this started.

Actually, it’s rude to begin a blog post with a lie. I’m pretty definitely, positively sure this started on my daily commute to a job I used to work… and HATED.

Oh, I tried to like it. I tried to sit myself behind that grungy cubicle every day, 9-5pm, and convince myself that a light shone from within me, shielding me from the negative comments, complaints, and bitterness around me. I tried to convince myself that this Eeyore-the-donkey-vibed environment was making me stronger, building my character.

But no, let’s be honest: it was sucking me dry. As much as I prayed, sang, and upped my frequency in the car- as soon as I sat in that cubicle, for even an hour, I would be back to my original sadness and desperation.

And so, I developed a morning “Tune-up” routine to prepare myself for war– er, I mean work.

Every morning, I envisioned those around me, family, and friends snorting and laughing. Seeing their joy in my mind gave me strength, at least for an hour- but it was enough. It was a start. It was also enough for me to realize that the environment I was in was toxic, destructive, and did not fit my goals in life. Daily, during this practice, I was able to get a gleam of happiness- and knew it existed. I also knew that gleam died quickly in the job I was working. So when I got laid off, I saw it as an opportunity… and I knew it was the universe KNOWING I hated it there, but also knowing that I would never give up. I’m a good little worker-bee, after all, and I don’t back down. (Thanks Universe, for having my back!)

imagining the joy my family has gives me strength.

 

So here! Have another tool for your happiness toolbelt! If it doesn’t work for you, but some other tool does- please share!! I’d love to hear more.

Let Loose, Get Kickin’ !

Swish

I always think of that one scene in Garden State, where Natalie Portman’s character says:

You know, back in High School I was a clown. I was in theatre, I was big (in spirit) and loud! I laughed, I danced, and I made weird noises… a lot like Natalie Portman in this scene. These days, I recognize how timid I am in comparison.

With fears centered around “don’t get fired”, “Make that money!” “be grateful, or else suffer!” It’s hard to live a life free, loose. It’s easy to fall into thinking about pleasing others first, because you have internalized society’s fears. It’s hard not to! We’re surrounded by it!

I miss those good old days though. Cliche’? I remind myself often that it’s a state of mind though. I am still technically that loud, slightly obnoxious teen who loved and lived life with open arms. Admittedly, I conked out in College. Depression and Anxiety set in, I missed my family and friends from high school dearly, and my sadness swept away my vibrato. I was lost for a few years, 8 to be exact. Then, I found the light again after years of therapy and realizing the light was always there, it had just gotten overshadowed for a bit.

I learned a lot from those dark years, and it deepened my understanding of the human condition for sure. My “empathy bone” (as I like to call it) grew, and I slowly learned the lost art of compassion. The biggest way to be compassionate is to first start with yourself. And every moment that I find myself thinking ‘I miss that lively girl I used to be” is every moment I could be living as the beautiful, matured, compassionate person I’ve grown into being. Yeah, Teen-me was a LOT of fun, and hilarious! And I still embody those traits, though they may be more subtle. I don’t need to beat myself up for NOT being the young, somewhat blissfully ignorant me. I can embrace this new chick; she’s pretty dope too.

And Ah, the memories! I have so many great memories to be proud of and so many more to create. Feeling sad missing the past robs me of the beautiful moments now, that will be just as memorable in 5 years.

Do not lament me, for I am still kickin’.

“You’re Doing It Wrong”

You're Doing It Wrong

Recently, I decided to enter my first juried art show since college. I’m talkin’, it’s been almost 5 years! Admittedly (understandably?) I’m a bit nervous! I looked through all my work, trying to find the “perfect” entries. Hah. Perfect. What a concept!

I decided to print a photo I took of my most recent photoshoot (so recent I haven’t even shared them yet!). At first I thought I would paint this photo I was printing, perhaps oil paint since it’s been just as long since I used those.

Welp, things changed. Life surprises you.

My printer was running low on ink, and instead of letting me know and refusing to print (how it usually handles the issue) it went on ahead and printed my photo out, sans magenta. I was instantly in love. Who needs magenta anyway??? I scanned the imperfect beauty in. Printer lines, no magenta! Chaos! But it’s like I remembered my old artsy self again. I loved the imperfect! Thanked the imperfect! I, at one point, held a crusade against perfection, because I saw how much it had a grip on people’s lives- including my own…

So yes. This, in being imperfect, is perfect. (mind ‘splosion?) And I’ve decided this is a good move on my part. If it doesn’t make it into the show, Ah well! It was a stepping stone, helping lead me back to the vision I had years ago. I’m all for looking at it that way.

Don’t Make It a Thing

Photo taken by fellow photographer and graphic designer, Sarah Bennett. See her blog at www.bennetttrails.com !

Photo taken by fellow photographer and graphic designer, Sarah Bennett. See her blog at www.bennetttrails.com !

So I wasn’t always this way.

I wasn’t always easy to laugh, easy to forgive, nurturing and patient. I didn’t always have the ability to laugh at myself for the mistakes I make, or even to allow myself a Big Ole’ FAT ugly cry when I was upset. In essence, I used to be young. I used to be 21.

Maybe you’d assume I was a victim of the drink’, being the age at which I can consume alcohol. But no, actually everything got rough when I was 18. By age 21 though, I realized I needed to change something up: I realized I needed to start loving myself. That first step I took? I wrote myself a letter.

Dec 12, 2009. Not any kind of remarkable day with a remarkable story, just a day I chose to sit down and talk to myself. The catch was this letter I wrote? I couldn’t just look at it willy-nilly as I liked. I made myself wait until Dec 12th, 2015 to reveal it’s original contents. I guess even then I realized my overwhelming sense of urgency and noticed I lacked the patience I desired. So I made myself wait. I guess I was also trying to give myself something to look forward to, something personal: A secret- just for me, to myself. I guess that made it pretty special… I needed that.

Yeah… well… about that letter: I had forgotten about it! Dec 12th came and went, and I had the letter openly sitting out, ready for the BIG DAY. But it wasn’t until a good week and a half after the date when I happened to remember,

“That friggin’ letter!”

I wasn’t doing anything remarkable at the time.

You know how sometimes making a space, making something a “thing”, a ritual or tradition, giving it this air of significance makes a moment more momentous?

It wasn’t.

It was an off hand realization. I was running around my room, as usual, cleaning, hanging up clothes, and I remembered…

“The friggin’ letter!”

I believe my exercise playlist on iTunes was playing, bumping out some high-octane fuel. I didn’t switch it to low key, emotional music. I didn’t try to set the stage, center my emotions.

I didn’t make it a thing.

I opened the letter, and read it.

 

Self Portrait taken in 2009

Self Portrait taken during the dark years! 2009.

Now, back in 2009, my life was pretty damn different! I was a lonely, severely depressed, highly anxious college student with no free time because I overbooked myself with classes. I was stressed and decided I was to blame for that stress. I treated my body like it was public enemy #1 because I was the determined bounty hunter. Not an ideal person to be attached to! Every chance I got, I attacked myself, blamed myself, and tore myself apart with the guilt: Guilt on top of guilt, on top of guilt. I had so much anger but was so depressed and lost that I didn’t know where it was coming from. I blamed others and was a very, very difficult person to be around sometimes… especially if you were someone I loved and truly cared about. They took the hardest and most hits. Some stayed with me, some got the hell outta there. I never blamed them, although outwardly it would seem I did. Inwardly, I knew it was all me- but I was the queen of denial, queen of unhappiness, and queen of “I’m a freakin’ loser, woe is meeeEEEE!!!!”

But despite the terror that was I, I always had a spark. I knew what happiness had felt like. I knew I wanted to learn how to love myself better, and to treat everyone with love and respect.

Sadness? Dance it out!

So yeah, I knew vaguely what to expect from this letter. My past has been pretty well recorded. I’ve kept a personal blog since I was 14 and during 2009 in particular I wrote in it up to 9 times a day to relieve my mind of the destructive, obsessive thoughts that were morphing my mind into an all encompassing black hole of BLAH and AHH! And although throughout the blog I would curse myself, blame myself, tear myself apart- I knew it was because deep down, somewhere in the great abyss, I KNEW I had it within me to be better and find the light again. I just had no idea whether I was supposed to go right, left, – wait, did I pass go? I had never been lost before. And I had yet to find a working compass.

Alright, so I didn’t allow myself to think about all this the morning I remembered,

“That friggin’ letter!”

I just did it. I jumped in and didn’t have time to be a judgey-McJudgerson to my past and myself. “I’m sorry Mam’am, the baggage claim is on the wayyy other side of the building.” I was leaving my suitcase behind. All I needed was my ID and wallet: aka identity and abundance!

And so I read:

Dear Susie,

You know how you can be. You’re unbelievably talented and ambitious. I know you’re probably killing yourself right now to make things “perfect” or “just right” in your life. Just think like Eckhart Tolle- and think in the NOW- not the future.

You’re so smart and beautiful. You have so much going for you- so why create extra stress? I hope you’re still writing in your online journal- that’s good therapy. I hope you are where you didn’t expect to be in life- but in a good way. I’m only 21, young, naïve- you’re an uber adult now! What’s that about? Haha

I feel like I’m writing a letter to my older sister- because I just want things to work out for you/me. I hope you can make it happen- and you DID make it happen.

I think that’s all I’m going to say…

I’ll keep it short because I know it’s hard to read my own handwriting.

Toodles Susie!

I hope everything worked out

Love,

your younger self.

 

As soon as I read it, I wanted to write about my reaction, get my thoughts on it out. But life had other plans. Life reminded me that we’re constantly moving forward and not to focus on the past too much. As my mom always told me (especially back in 2009!) Rumination leads to Ruination.

Rumination Ruination

So, I moved on. I didn’t make it a thing.

This morning I wrote a new letter. I won’t say what’s in it- that would spoil the fun for Dec 2020! But I wanted to keep the tradition going: I wanted to have a reminder in the future of what it was like, and what I was thinking here in 2016.

It’s fun thinking how different I was in 2009, how much I’ve grown within that time: What I’ve learned, what I’ve experienced, who I cared for. And I no longer harbor resentment for the pain I caused. I have learned from my mistakes, forgiven myself and I believe that is why I went through this ordeal: to strengthen myself.

And yeah, everything did work out. It’s still working out. I have much to be grateful for. When I was 21, I didn’t know these words: Forgiveness, Gratitude, and Abundance… I didn’t even know

Love.

Now I’m pretty confident I know what love is. I see it all around me, am able to connect with it, I feel it within me. Before, I would feel “love” but couldn’t communicate it, wanted to understand it and analyze it, ultimately stripping it of it’s magic. Now I just let it happen, I go with it. I can cherish others and especially myself.

I no longer need a letter to give myself something to look forward to. I look forward to everyday- but there’s something powerful about getting a glimpse of the past and recognizing the growth you have undergone, subtle or bold. It’s pretty remarkable.

So I’m making it a thing.

 

Photos taken by the lovely Sarah Bennett of www.bennetttrails.com

“She is Me”

2007

2007

I took the job.

Ridiculously happy? Me? Ermmm YEAH!!! This new job solves so many problems in my life! Moolah! Opportunity for leadership! Creative development! It opens up a world of possibility! But man, is this a transition period. Following that pure joy comes realization of things I must leave behind. I did not comprehend how hard it would be to leave my current job. I have grown very fond of the atmosphere, positive music, encouraging bosses and fellow employees. My friends are there, mentors in life! And I fear that sense of loneliness as I part ways with them.

Yes, I will make new friends.

Yes, I will find other mentors.

Yes this job is a leadership position, with new opportunities- and yes! That can be scary.

This is all a good thing.

I am ready for this opportunity. I am hungry for it, even! I have realized the strength within me, my capabilities, and I know I can rock the socks off this new job. I believe in karma, and for years I thought I was being punished for choices I had made, actually a negative attitude I had trouble letting go of. But now I realize that I was doing it to myself. As my mom used to tell me (ok, yeah, pretty often) “Susie, you’re cutting off your nose to spite your face!” I was my own worst enemy. I was terrified, fighting for survival. There was no need for that; I was alive, I was capable of happiness and love. I created my own suffering. I was punishing myself, thinking myself small, weak. This perspective was self-fulfilling. I think therefore I am (err, was!)

But giirrrrllllllllLLLL, look at you now! And most importantly, look at the people in your life that stood by you as you found your way.

Gratitude.

Recently, it was Appreciate yo’ awesome Bosses day! At the retail job I work at, a customer was buying a gift for her boss and informed me of this. I knew it was a perfect opportunity to show my bosses, mentors, friends how I felt about them and how much I appreciated their patience, kindness, and support. It was even more apparent I should do something for them because now The End was in sight! How I would miss them! How they have helped me get to where I am going now! I am overflowing with gratitude.

So, I bought them gifts. I took the time to write letters to them, letting them know how their leadership affected me. I wrapped their gifts, folded their letters, all with love. I took my time.

I never really did that before. I never really put effort into wrapping a gift “What’s the point? They’ll just rip it open! Neglect the wrapping!” But at my sister’s baby shower, I saw a woman make a Tricycle out of baby supplies and it made me rethink that belief.

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Oh, wait… that’s creative! Time was put into that! I was so impressed!!

So what if I approached things differently? I knew I wanted to be more open with friends, family, hell– even strangers!– About the light I see within them. I wanted to encourage and support others as I have been encouraged and supported. Talking can be challenging for me, I get self-conscious, pull inward. However, writing and creating have always been my best forms of communicating. And what’s nifty is a creation hangs around, tangible, recorded. Spoken words can be floating, lost, forgotten, jumbled around by faulty neurotransmitters.

4

Taking the time to take the time for others really made me feel good (and it’s all about me, right?). Writing those letters really solidified my future for me too. I’m moving on to a bigger job, more responsibility, and without my last job I would have never been prepared to take this on. I am forever grateful for that experience, for those friends. I learned how to treat everybody with kindness, patience, because I witnessed others doing just that.

Gabrielle Bernstein once mentioned a thought her inner voice mentioned to her. She was upset, taking her anger out on a poor worker behind a desk. She was mad at the situation, not the worker and suddenly she had the thought:

She is me

She instantly pulled back her anger, apologized, realized it was misplaced aggression and voiced her fears. This vulnerability, honesty, broke down the wall that her fear and anger were creating. The result? They both relaxed, were able to open up to each other, and create a harmonious interaction, even making a new friend!

I wrote that phrase down as soon as I heard it. It’s GOLD! Often we can place ourselves higher than others, or the opposite by putting people on pedestals. Each time we do this, we fail to see that person as equal, one of us. She is me. He is me!

The day after I heard these wise words, I applied it to my job. Each customer who came up to ring out, I practiced letting my guard down, placed my judgement of whatever they were wearing, or whatever look they had on their face aside, and did me. “She is me. I am talking to me.” I knew, on the flip side, I would have appreciated a genuine interaction with a sales associate. I am quirky, fidgety, I hum a lot! I used to view these traits as “abnormal‘ appropriate for scrutiny, but in reality, it’s just me! It gives me joy to hum, gives me joy to dance around, tap my fingers. If I can share my joy openly, that shit is usually contagious! I told myself each customer who came my way had that same joy, that same desire to dance and sing! They get it! And I Tore Down That Wall, released that leash!

And it was one of thee best day‘s I’ve had to date.

Not only did it help the other person relax, open up, tear down their walls– but it released my social anxiety. I was being me, and I was reaping the benefits! Learning about others, hearing their stories propels me, motivates me! If I clam up, censor myself and my feelings, I lose that opportunity to be inspired by the fascinating lives around me.

And who wants that?