Monday Notes: Non-Attachment

Unlike other blog posts, I don’t have a clear definition/citation for the Buddhist concept of non-attachment. Instead, what I’m going to share is what I’ve gathered from reading articles, having conversation with my husband, and living life. What follows is literally my interpretation:

Non-attachment seems to be one’s ability to simultaneously care and let go.

Here’s what I mean.

CAREER

When I began my job as a community college professor, I took a twenty-thousand dollar decrease in salary. This pissed me off the entire first two years. I couldn’t believe I had a doctorate and decades of experience yet made far less than my peers and far less than I did my first year of teaching high school in 1996. How little my paychecks were clouded my vision.

Unlike at a university, I couldn’t negotiate my salary. My choice was to either find a new job or accept what I was bringing home, so I chose the latter. It wasn’t until I released worry about how much money I was making that I was able to develop a creative solution that didn’t involve quitting. Two years later, I began a small editing business. While my salary affords me basics, like food and shelter, my editing business helps me to afford the lifestyle I desire.

Do I care about making money? Of course, that’s how we live in this capitalistic society that commodifies people and their talents. However, letting go of the worry that comes with being low paid in my field is what led to the lifestyle I currently have, which I’m still not attached to because I know it could cease to exist tomorrow.

ROMANTIC RELATIONSHIP

Dwight and I have been together for nearly three decades. I’ve written before about how attached I was to him when we first met. There was an inherent fear that if I lost him and our relationship, then somehow, I would be nothing. Our relationship was attached to my self-worth.

After healing unresolved trauma, I was able to see the flaw in my perception. If Dwight and I separate, I will not die. I will be fine. Don’t worry. He feels the same. I once asked him if he needed me. His response was no, and so was mine. I mean, think about it. It sounds a bit desperate to say that you need someone, like in a life-or-death way. In our relationship, we’re happy because we both want to be with each other; we’re not together out of obligation or desperation.  

Do I care about Dwight? Of course, care is a part of love. However, I know at any moment, this relationship could end for any reason, and I’m at peace with that. This not only applies to my romantic relationship, but also familial and friendship ones.

BLOGGING

Like many bloggers, when I first began, I was concerned about gaining readership. I participated in WordPress’s Blogging 101 and Blogging 201. I religiously followed Janice Wald’s advice. I begged family and friends to subscribe to my blog and felt bad when people didn’t. You know where all of that got me? Worried with a side of hurt feelings. I was so attached to what it meant to have five, ten, eighteen more followers that I was ignoring the creative part.

I had to stop worrying about who was following my blog and who wasn’t. I had to become unattached to the outcome of blogging. One day, I received one of those WP automated announcements about having 500 followers or something like that. I was surprised because I’d been focusing on just creating meaningful content, not gaining readers.

Do I care about blogging? I think most of you know the answer to that. However, I am not attached to how many likes or comments I receive. I rarely look at statistics, because I’m happy to engage with whoever happens to stop by.

Ultimately, what I’ve learned is that worry is a type of fear and it is linked to an attachment of some sort: I was attached to my pay because I feared being broke; I was attached to my husband because I was afraid to be alone; and I was attached to accumulating likes and comments because I was scared of not being a “good” blogger.


But in each example, when I released worry, and subsequently the fear associated with it, then that’s when the magic happened. I still cared, but I was also able to let go, and eventually, reach some level of non-attachment. Let me know what you think. Can you be non-attached to people, things, and circumstances?

Postscript: Non-attachment is not detachment. Detachment is not a healthy coping mechanism. Non-attachment is not a lack of care and concern. Not caring and being concerned with people is another form of detachment, which is not a healthy coping mechanism.


Advertisement

71 thoughts on “Monday Notes: Non-Attachment

  1. I had to learn non-attachment when it came to my adult grandson. A close friend said to me: “Everyone has to have their own experiences, Elva.” I realized that I was afraid that my grandson’s life would not turn out as I thought it should. I spent way too much time worrying about something over which I had no control. I care about him but my goal was to assuage my fear by “fixing” his life.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Elva, this is a great example. It’s also something Melody Beattie discusses with how to stop being codependent. She says something like what you’ve said here, which is that we have to realize that people have their own lives to live and manage, and we have to be willing to let them do that, even if we perceive it as “bad” or negative.

      Thanks so much for adding this.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree, that there is nothing that is more valuable than having developed the right attitude; one might enjoy the plenty as long it is available, but one must also have the ability to let go without losing oneself in case those opportunities have disappeared.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Exactly! I thought we would’ve seen/learned this from the pandemic, at least, but I don’t think so. I think even that shows how some of us are clinging to what was, instead of what is.

      Like

  3. Oh, there are a few people I “need” in my life, some more than others 😊. Sure, life would still go on without them, just like I need my legs, but I would still live if I no longer had them… probably 🤣. When you have been with someone longer than you have been without them, and they have been ingrained in your inner being you grow to need having them around, not because you’re weak or needy but because you WANT to need them, because honestly life is just better with them around 😊.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for this comment, Jan! The leg analogy is a good one. I think, though, sometimes people who lose their legs, tend to focus on how they don’t have legs, instead of how mobile they still can be. I think that’s where the non-attachment part comes in. To move on (literally), you have to be at peace with having no legs.

      Wanting to need someone is an interesting concept. I want my husband around (we’ve been together nearly 30 years), but I’m not sure I want to need him lol but I’ll be thinking about this part.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I loved what you said about worry really being fear….that is so true! And fear can keep us focused on all the wrong things. I agree that we can be “non-attached” to the things and people we love. When I first heard that my husband had cancer, I had to truly accept the idea of a life without him. And although I knew the grief would be huge and hard, I also realized I would get through it. I have also enjoyed blogging SO much more once I stopped trying to “do it right” and simply wrote about what I wanted to, when I wanted to. These days, life is very busy and I’m not posting as often. There was a time when I would have made life even busier by posting amidst all the craziness, but now I know better. I’ll wait to write a post when I truly have the time, and that will be okay, even if it costs me views and likes.
    Honestly, I am in awe of how often you write about the things I’m thinking about, and how eloquently you do it. I am very, very glad I found your blog!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. This is a great example, Ann, because if you don’t accept the fact that your husband will not be here forever, then you really will be in a state of suffering. And that doesn’t mean you don’t love or care about him.

      I’m giving you a high five about blogging, too. I feel the same. Sometimes, I have a Monday Notes, and sometimes I’ll reblog a Monday Notes lol

      Awww ❤ thank you ❤ You know I feel the same.

      Like

  5. Thank you for sharing!!.. I just follow my heart, rarely go wrong… 🙂

    Until we meet again..
    May the road rise to meet you
    May the wind be always at your back
    May the sun shine warm upon your face
    The rains fall soft upon your fields
    May green be the grass you walk on
    May blue be the skies above you
    May pure be the joys that surround you
    May true be the hearts that love you.
    (Irish Saying)

    Liked by 3 people

  6. I think we attach ourselves to ideas (or maybe ideals) to fit in and maintain our social status. Non-attachment requires a strong sense of self worth, a desire and willingness to do things our own way. Years ago, I colored my hair, cleaned my house every week, worked my tail off at my job, and spent the same amount on each of my sisters for Christmas and birthdays. I feared the world would end if I looked old, kept a messy house, didn’t pull my own weight in the work world, or didn’t allocate my gift budget fairly.
    Non-attachment was a very gradual process. I didn’t get hit on the head by an asteroid or anything. When I didn’t have time to clean or money for a root touch-up, life went on. Mostly, nobody noticed or cared. It wasn’t a big leap to let my hair go au naturel and clean to my own (much lower) standard. When I went on an extended vacation, I learned I wasn’t indispensable at work. When my calculations showed hubby and I could live on our government pensions, I quit my job (our life is not extravagant, but we get by). I could have more stuff if I worked, but I enjoy my freedom from working and stuff. With the sister thing, I keep it fair on the surface and give my favorite one an extra package privately or through the mail. I don’t feel guilty about it.

    I think Dr Seuss said it best… Don’t be afraid to be who you are. The people who mind don’t matter, and the people who matter won’t mind. Or something like that.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Joan. This is perfect. I understand what you mean, especially about the gray hair. I, too, was attached to an ideal about hair. It wasn’t until I decided it didn’t matter, that I didn’t need to be attached to that idea of beauty, that I felt a little better about doing it.

      Thank you for adding this comment (and the Seuss quote) ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re welcome. For the record, I get a lot of compliments on my gray hair, as if by wearing it proudly instead of trying to hide it, I somehow reset the standard. Same with the other things. My being authentic has given others permission to do what feels right to them.
        Thanks for ticking our brains with something interesting every Monday. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one thinking what I’m thinking.

        Liked by 2 people

      1. Firstly thank you for your kind comment on my attachment post. Yes I lean heavily toward Buddhism but I am not a committed Buddhist. I found the trilogy “Awakening …” by the American Lama Surya Das did just that, awakened me to the beauty of Buddhism. I also found the Tao Te Ching illuminating and have a great collection of Buddhist and Taoist texts. I have been meditating daily for nearly twenty years now. Search for “Buddhism” on my blog for some of my thoughts on this.

        Liked by 2 people

  7. This is such a beautiful concept, Katherin. I’d never heard of it before and it seems much more desirable than detachment. Love it!!
    I had no idea about your accepting that huge pay cut, and what a wonderful way to deal with it. A big difference in approach that countered ruminating with resentment.
    In my current life, I have little income and I view the other benefits that I get doing what I love. So I have been actively seeking non-attachment in my own life, without even realizing it!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I’m glad to have kind of introduced it to you 😉

      You’re right! What you’ve described is one way to be non-attached. In order to stop ruminating, I used to do the same thing, think of the positives of working where I currently work (which there are many).

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Thank you for sharing your experiences. I found them valuable, especially the career aspect. As for the relationship aspect, I am definitely afraid I fall in the “I need you” category. I have reasons but also know that I need to work on myself first for everything else to fall in place. Again, thank you.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. You’re welcome ❤

      I'm glad you mentioned that part about working on yourself. Once you do, then the neediness aspects will fall off. It'll become clear that you're okay, whether you have fill-in-the-blank person or not ❤

      Like

  9. Ugh great post! And I can tell you right now I’m not good at this. Sometimes I’m worried the universe is punishing me for not having “figured this out yet” with regards to romance I mean. Although I’ve actually been single for most of my 42 years on earth! So it’s like of course I’ll be fine bc I have been for all this time. And yet, I can’t imagine loving someone and also feeling like I’ll be ok if they’re gone. But my breakup really helped solidify my confidence in myself in this area, and has helped me make so much more peace with being alone. So we’ll see, maybe I’m farther along than I think 🤣🤣 thank you, this post is great!

    Liked by 4 people

  10. I’m so glad I came across your post this morning (I always read them but never find the time to comment haha).

    So many themes and ideas that truly resonate with me as I’m going through some big transitions in my life. For me, letting go is such an uphill struggle but I love your thought process and the peace you’ve made with yourself.

    Happy Monday!

    Liked by 4 people

  11. This is so wonderful and in ways I can’t express ties together a bunch of my draft articles I never published…

    There is one aspect I want to touch on. Sometimes people stay with something they would prefer to let go because they feel they have nothing to walk toward, as in a destination (a new job, a new relationship). So, you stay in a relationship, for instance, because you have *a* relationship rather than *no* relationship, whereas if you break up but there isn’t any new relationship to walk toward you would be alone. Facing that fear of being alone and changing the mentality that it isn’t the end of the world is exactly what we all need to practice. What if you’re missing an opportunity by staying just because you’re not walking toward something tangible?

    It’s something I’ve written about but not published because words have failed me somehow. But now you inspired me. Maybe I’ll revisit… 💟

    Liked by 3 people

    1. YES! I see it all the time with people and relationships. The thing is, if you want a happy, healthy relationship, then you should probably be willing to let go of the toxic one, even if it’s just to make space in your life for something better. Buuuut the other thing is to not even worry about having a relationship at all, which is something the law of attraction talks a lot about…letting go to attract what you want.

      Glad to have provided some inspiration!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I hear you, but I’d rather not really worry about the number of actual or fake followers. I mean I don’t want bots, because my goal is actual engagement, but I just find it a waste of energy even thinking about who’s fake and who’s not, unless it’s blatantly obvious. Hope this makes sense.

      Like

  12. This is a great post about attachment, Kathy with three really solid and wonderful examples. I wondered when I first started looking in Buddhism whether it meant I shouldn’t care about anything. If being at peace meant not caring about accomplishing anything. But I found in life and the examples you give, that critical difference in being centered in what matters or the “why” of something without grasping on to the externals. And that subtle shift makes such a difference as you articulate so well in this post. Beautiful!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thanks, Wynne ❤

      It's such a fine line, I think, because of our (Western) understanding of life, and also because these types of things are always shrouded in actual buddhist practices and those who have pretty much chosen a specific lifestyle that is totally not what we're doing over here lol

      So, I think what you've said about the misunderstandings make sense. I don't think it's realistic to not care about accomplishing things, for example, but at the same time, we can't compare our lives to what buddhists do every day.

      At the expense of rambling, there's a story I remember watching about a new monk. He had just lost his family in a war or fire or something, and he couldn't meditate or talk about them without crying (understandably), but according to the practice it was because he was still attached to his family and what it meant to have/not have a family, etc.

      Anywho, thank you so much for this comment.

      Like

      1. : to value (something or someone) too lightly : to fail to properly notice or appreciate (someone or something that should be valued)
        We often take our freedom for granted.
        I’m tired of being taken for granted.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Nightly we go to bed asking each other what we are grateful for. My next birthday I’ll be 55 and we will also be together 30 years. If he dies there will be a void as we are not a 50/50 couple, we each have our specialty and are more like 80/20. When I worked I took my pay and benefits for granted that maybe I could find a job with less politics, but maybe politics come with pay.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Aha! I see what you mean. Is being non-attached the same as taking something/someone for granted? I don’t think that’s the same thing. For example, I don’t take my husband, job or blogging for granted. I am grateful for each one for different reasons; however, should something change about either of these things, then I feel I will be okay; that’s the non-attachment part.

        Liked by 1 person

  13. Definitely a topic that’s been discussed and considered in daily life since the fire 12/30. The attachment to stuff is challenging to let go. I have plenty of things that I’m attached to, mostly because they have sentimental value and memories involved, or are beautiful works of art. Still considering this idea. Thanks.

    Liked by 4 people

  14. Beautiful, I appreciate you writing this especially the section on relationships. Also as I was reading, I could clearly hear your voice & that glow from your smile I’ve seen on your IG pics 🥰. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Thanks, Krystal! I almost didn’t add it, but something told me to, mainly because I know I used to detach quite easily (due to my background), and now I clearly see the difference. One is done out of fear; the other is really more like peace.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. I think attachment is relative to the object or person. I’m not attached to property (although my mortgage is quite attached to me). 😀 I think that attachment is sometimes conflated with a connection, that feeling that often develops into love. I think that you’re right – if a relationship was to end, you would not perish. However, while it’s happening, it does feel that life is ending. We’ve all been through abject sorrow when a loved one leaves, or passes on. Although this is a transitory feeling, the perspective of time is lost while experiencing it.

    I’m rambling now.

    In closing, I’ll leave you with this sage quote from Woody Allen’s “Love and Death”:

    Liked by 3 people

    1. This makes sense, Rob, especially the part about attachment being conflated with connection, which then morphs into love 🥴

      And yep, I think because we’re attached, that’s why it feels so painful. We don’t want to let go (for whatever reason).

      And lol about the quote 🫠

      Liked by 1 person

Comments are welcomed

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s