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Let Go of Unhealthy Attachments

Margaret Minnicks, an ordained minister and Bible teacher, is used to giving advice about life.


Attachment: Definition

Attachment is defined as having a strong connection to something or someone. Being attached becomes unhealthy when your loyalty to that something or someone makes you unhappy. There is a strong force that keeps you connected and in bondage even after you realize the relationship is unhealthy for you.

Four Types of Attachments

Adults have four attachment styles, according to a survey provided by psychologists Paula R. Pietromonaco and Lisa Feldman Barrett. Only one of them is secure and healthy while three of them are insecure and unhealthy.

  1. Secure attachments are those that demonstrate a positive view of self and a positive view of others. Those who are securely attached are comfortable in the relationship. Each person trusts the other. There is always a friendly and warm interaction. In a secure relationship, both parties are relaxed and at ease almost all the time.
  2. Anxious-preoccupied attachments are insecure attachments that are demonstrated by a negative view of self and a positive view of others. People with anxious-preoccupied attachments want to be close to others but are reluctant to get close for fear of rejection. They often need validation from the person they are attached to. Even when they get it, they don't believe it is real.
  3. Dismissive-avoidant styles are insecure attachments that are opposite of the anxious-preoccupied attachment. A dismissive-avoidant style is demonstrated by those possessing a positive view of self and a negative view of others. They feel comfortable without close emotional relationships. They feel self-sufficient and often prefer not to depend on others or have others depend on them. They are quite independent, and they love it that way. In fact, being independent is often a way to avoid an attachment altogether. They would rather not have an attachment at all so they will not have to answer to anyone and explain things to them. People with this style deal with rejection by distancing themselves from the source of rejection even if it means letting go of the relationship.
  4. Fearful-avoidant attachment styles are insecure and demonstrated by those possessing a confused view of self and others. They fear an attachment because of past losses, tragedies, and trauma. They are uncomfortable getting close to others for fear they will get hurt in the future just as they have been hurt in the past. They have negative views about themselves and their attachments. Trust is non-existent in this type of attachment. It is similar to the dismissive-avoidant attachment style. People frequently suppress their feelings.

People should let go of unhealthy attachments. It might be difficult if they have been in unhealthy attachments for a long time. Here are five ways to help them let go and move on to healthy attachments.

1. Identify Your Unhealthy Attachment Style

No matter which of the three unhealthy attachment styles you are involved in, it is still hard to let go. However, it becomes much easier if you can identify your style. Then, you need to examine why the relationship is unhealthy and the reason you need to let go.

Once you have identified the unhealthy attachment style and you have ascertained why you need to let go, stick with your decision. Do not waver.


2. Unhealthy Relationship Are Harmful

It is painful to let go of unhealthy relationships. You might toy with the idea of not letting go to avoid pain and discomfort. The adage is correct in this situation: "No pain, no gain."

Keep in mind that unhealthy relationships prevent you from being mentally, physically, and emotionally healthy. Giving up those things that are harmful to you are challenging at first, but the process gets easier the longer you stay away from them.

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3. Expect Withdrawals

Even though staying in unhealthy relationships make you miserable, letting go will also make you miserable at first. However, you won't stay miserable. You will have withdrawals, but they will pass. The emotional connection you have for a certain relationship is the same as having a strong desire for a food, drink, drug or bad habit. There is a chemical reaction in your brain for each one of those things. To cut off that chemical reaction results in a withdrawal that is not a very pleasant experience.

You will feel so bad at first that you might consider going back to your unhealthy attachment to eliminate the pain and to be on good terms with the person you let go. While that might be tempting, avoid that at all cost. If you return to an unhealthy relationship, it will be harder to break free later on.

4. Stay Away from Unhealthy Attachments

After you have been in unhealthy attachments, you should recognize the signs that caused you to be in one in the first place. Stay away from similar relationships. Don't be like some people who fall into the pattern of having unhealthy relationships one after the other.

Once you get out of an unhealthy attachment, take inventory of what went wrong before getting involved in another one. In fact, do not rush into another unhealthy attachment.

5. Replace the Unhealthy Attachment

The best way to get over an unhealthy relationship is to replace it with something else. Decide what will make you happy, and then go for it. Now that you are not with someone who monopolizes your time and controls you, you can do what makes you comfortable. Spend some time alone to reflect on things that went wrong in the last relationship and vow to never let that happen again. Go through a period of reflecting, meditating, and journaling.

Take up a new hobby, read more books, and spend time on improving your own mental health.


How To Let Go of Unhealthy Attachments

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


Roslyn de Cordova on July 24, 2020:

I’m hoping that you had a great day on yesterday!! My birthday is today!!

Pvm from Palakkad kerala india on August 25, 2019:

I am single only like remains-parents dead,divorced-only some I may look upto in dreams others only not parents remains

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