Attachment to Things Being What We Need Them to Be

Buddhism clearly identifies attachment as the thing that prevents us from being free. The pattern I have been noticing in myself and my clients is that attachment almost always stems from needing something to be something it is not. We become attached to things being the way we need them to be.

Then we typically rail against the way things are. Spiritual teacher, Adyashanti aptly calls this “an argument with the way things are.” And this is a disagreement we are destined to lose. And beyond the argument, what we really lose is our freedom and presence of mind.

I recently sent a Facebook message to Amazon informing them that their checkout system had gotten terrible. In retrospect, while I believe I had some valid points, I got pretty fired up (or attached) to something that is very likely going to stay the way it is. It was wasted time and energy. In five minutes, I could have figured out the way Amazon’s checkout was and placed my order. But no, I had a point to make. I had to tantrum against Amazon for not making their checkout the way I thought it should be.

In various ways, we do this all the time.

The obvious alternative is to allow things to be as they and then to flow (like water) to where you want to be. I say like water because water always follows the path of least resistance. It does not tantrum against the rock, but flows around it. Once we accept things the way they are, we are able to see the way to get where we want to be.

So when we bump into something that is not as we believe it should be, we get a choice. We can argue with the way it is...

Or, we can say to ourselves, “Damn, I wish it wasn’t that way, but being that it is, how can I get where I want to be?”

6 comments (Add your own)

1. Bethany White wrote:
I really needed to hear this today. I've been plotting my revenge against Google Wallet all week - no joke! I've been hearing the universe's quiet suggestion that I let it go but holding onto the pleasure I gained from the anger. I realize that this is a common theme for me - holding onto a thing, person, belief, etc. that is so far from what I want it to be that it brings me pain but identifying with the pain therefore, allowing it to continue. This pattern doesn't serve me anymore (to pull from previous lessons learned from you.)

...Letting go now.

Thu, January 16, 2014 @ 8:10 AM

2. Mike Hoffman wrote:
Thanks for your awesome comment Bethany. Excellent point on the the pleasure (and power) we gain from the anger. I also liked your insight on identifying with the pain. Most of us have a simliar pattern to yours of wanting things to be something they are not. My pattern doesn't serve me anymore either- so I am letting it go with you.

Thu, January 16, 2014 @ 8:40 AM

3. Steven Young wrote:
Ya, I have been working this week to get registered with the Veterans Administration (VA) in order to be listed on their vendor lists. I thought to myself on the fist day of this process that there is no way I am taking on an organization of that size and wanting them to do it my way. I surrendered, back my energy off, and focused on what are your asking me for, and how can I put it in your hands. I love the thought of "flow like the water to where you need to be". It sometimes makes me feel like I got somewhere almost effortlessly. Then I feel like saying to myself "how do you like me now".

Thu, January 16, 2014 @ 5:56 PM

4. Beth wrote:
I can relate to this blog, Mike. I've been online dating for years and last year with yet another dud dude (lol) I realized that I was reading into profiles, assuming things, seeing what I wanted or needed to see so that the guy fit into what I consider important in a match. I have so many stories about coming face to face with men who were nothing like the image I had imagined. Finally, I'm taking it slow, asking important questions, being practical, not getting ahead of myself in my dreams of uniting with a twin flame spiritual partner. Yay for me!

Tue, January 21, 2014 @ 10:25 AM

5. Mike Hoffman wrote:
Thanks for your comment Steven. Yes, getting an organization that size to do it your way can be incredibly frustrating. I have found it useful to realize I am in their world and approach it with, "OK, what do I need to do here? So much easier.

Tue, January 21, 2014 @ 2:41 PM

6. Mike Hoffman wrote:
Thanks Beth. I think you bring up an important aspect of this tendency. There is nothing quite like dating or romantic relationships for tending to see someone as you need them to be. You bring up an essential practice for daters to ask the important questions of the person they are dating and themselves as they walk to toward their dreams of uniting with a partner. Yay for you indeed!

Tue, January 21, 2014 @ 4:45 PM

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