Sometimes we’re going to be attached to a person, habit, or situation that’s harmful to us.
It’s not that we want to be harmed. It’s that the person, habit, or situation is what we know.
It feels familiar. It feels “right.”
It can be hard to break with a person, habit, or situation that we’ve gotten used to— even if we KNOW that it’s causing us damage.
We didn’t wind up with that person, repeating that habit, or in that situation by accident.
Sometimes we get convinced that we CAN’T break away.
We might get convinced that, even if a person, habit or situation is harming us, it’s what we “deserve.”
Sometimes we’re terrified of what we’d have to face if we DID break away.
What could possibly come next when we abandon this person, habit, or situation that has been such a big part of our everyday life?
We may not trust ourselves to be able to survive and function WITHOUT that familiar person, habit, or situation.
It’s not necessarily that we want to stay with a person, continue doing a thing, or stay in a situation that is causing us pain. Many people would give ANYTHING to be ABLE to give up a relationship, behavior pattern, or circumstance that they feel trapped in.
But it’s just not as simple as deciding “I’m not doing this anymore.”
When we’ve repeated patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving over and over and OVER again, those patterns have momentum in our nervous system.
Trying to step away from those pattern can create a GREAT DEAL of anxiety— so much so that we may actually experience physical discomfort or even pain when we try to make a big change.
It’s not a matter of “willpower.” It’s not a matter of “character” or “grit” or “toughness.”
If we’re going to successfully break with a person, habit, or situation to which we are attached, we need to be realistic about what comes next.
We need to have specific strategies mapped out for when the anxiety comes rushing in like cold sea water.
We need to identify specific skills that will keep us from running BACK to the situation we’re trying to escape.
We need to have supportive people handy who know what we’re going through, who understand the stakes, and who are willing to help us handle the uncomfortable feelings that WILL happen when we try to break longstanding patterns.
The good news is: just because we are attached to a person, habit, or situation, doesn’t mean that we have to stay enmeshed with them.
We CAN set limits.
We CAN change our habitual patterns of thinking, feeing, and behaving.
People do make massive changes in what they think, feel, and do every day.
People do recover from addictions.
People do end destructive relationships.
People do leave jobs that are sucking their will to live.
People do leave toxic families.
People do leave destructive communities.
When we grow up without positive or stable attachment experiences, we’ll often attach to certain people, habits, or situations that aren’t healthy for us— and it can be TREMENDOUSLY painful and confusing to try to set limits with them.
That’s not your fault. That’s how attachment works.
Meaningfully changing your life takes patience, commitment, and support— and the conviction that you DO deserve positive, non-hurtful attachments in your life,
Even if you’ve never HAD positive, non-hurtful attachments in your life— you STILL deserve them going forward.