The trick, of course, is to be aware of when you are attached. Without this awareness, you are seduced into believing that there is one way for things to be. If things are not that way, you suffer. On the other hand, if things are the way you believe, you will likely miss opportunities and possibilities for new and better ways because you are so attached to this one way of seeing.
When you forget that your thoughts are not real just because you think them, you live under the illusion that there is but one way for things to be - the way you are currently thinking. As soon as your awareness shifts, and your attachment drops, the space is created for myriad possibilities to emerge from your inner wisdom.
As an avid tennis player, I struggled for nearly three decades with a mediocre two-handed backhand. I took countless lessons, practiced and practiced but never had a real breakthrough. My overall game was limited as a result. At least until my attachment to the two-handed style eroded. One day as I was feeding a ball back to my opponent with a one-handed backhand, I suddenly realized there was an option I had never considered. Once I was no longer attached to playing with two hands, I was able to see a clear alternative that had somehow escaped me for 26 years. Within a year or two, I had developed a solid, reliable one-handed backhand that continues to improve.
Up until recently I had been attached to the idea that I could not have a job and build a successful business at the same time. My attachment to this thought was so strong that I was unwilling to even consider an alternative.
I’m reminded of another time when attachment snuck up on me. When my wife was pregnant with our son, we became attached to the idea of a natural water birth. We were so attached to this idea that we would not even consider using traditional doctors - so we planned the birth in a birthing center. Consequently, we made no back up plans. This attachment ended up presenting some serious challenges for us as it turns out. My wife spent nearly 48 hours in labor and never really progressed very far. Throughout the labor with my wife completely exhausted and sleep-deprived, I had to wrestle with when to make the decision to abandon our plans and go to the hospital. It was the hardest decision I had to make because of how much we had grown attached to our idea of how this experience should be. Without the attachment, we would have made backup plans, known our doctor, been familiar with the hospital, and made the decision much sooner and much more easily. Nonetheless, we were blessed to have a smooth, easy Caesarian birth in the hospital. It would be months before we fully recovered from the sleep-deprivation that 48-hour labor caused, and it could have been easily avoided without attachment to our thinking.
Attachment is tricky because it is subtle. If you are not careful, you will not realize that you have been taken under its spell. And when you are under its siren-like charms, you struggle more, you suffer more, and your enjoyment of life declines. If you notice those feelings coming up for you, it is worth asking yourself, “What am I attached to right now? If I was not attached, what would I do differently? What are some other possibilities that I have not yet considered?”
Remember, all attachment is just thought appearing real, and it is only real because you decide that it is. Unlike glue, this sticky stuff never sets. You can choose a new reality in any moment, and in that choice, transformation is possible.