Is life starting to feel like a chore? Like you’re in the backseat of your own life?
Are you feeling things that you can’t quite express? Almost as if expressing your needs could begin a domino of endings?
Does it feel like the walls are closing in because all your choices in life are to maintain everything around you – except for your own happiness?
These are a few signs that you’re ready for change, but are being caged in by certain attachments that are no longer in alignment with you.
Unpacking all the would’ves, should’ves and could’ves, here are 10 things you need to detach yourself from if you want to move forward in life.
1) Your past decisions
Starting off broad, the greatest mental obstacle for a lot of people who desire change is regret.
I’m not going to tell you that you’re completely wrong to think this way – a huge part of life is learning from your mistakes.
In fact, ruminating over your mistakes is the opposite of accepting your lessons because you’re insinuating that there wasn’t a great deal of growth from the decisions you made.
Not to mention, there’s no point in trying to change the past unless you know how to build a time machine.
The key here is to believe in your ability to grow by understanding that you did best with what you knew back then.
And the key to that is detaching yourself from a negative perspective of yourself.
2) A negative self-image
A lot of people equate low self-esteem to something superficial. Like not feeling confident in how you look or the job you have.
But people’s negative perceptions of themselves show up in how they view their ability to grow.
It’s why so many people stay in unhealthy environments! Even if they know they deserve better, they may not believe that better is possible.
So if you want to move forward in your life, you have to reframe how you view your mistakes.
That they are just points in time where you discovered what would be better for you.
3) Misaligned motivations
Also known as distractions – which can be sneaky!
While some are obvious (like video games) some motivations are to combat the feeling of missing out. Leaving you confused, trapping you in rumination bubbles again.
Which is why you need to figure out what you value so you can keep moving in the direction that you want.
I would even go as far as to say that my lessons in life became a lot less confusing once I had a guideline for what mattered to me the most.
So where do these distractions come from? If we aren’t creating our own motivations, who is?
Well grab a beverage and a comfortable seat because we’re about to unpack all of it.
4) Societal norms
These are the main pressures that are so normalized that a lot of people don’t question them.
For example, how so many people are pushed to make huge life decisions at the ripe age of 18.
There are also certain systems in place that can make it difficult for you to exist if you belong to certain marginalized groups.
So even if there are all these “options,” there aren’t, really. Even if you have certain privileges, the privilege of belonging can come with a price tag – your sense of self.
Meaning you might move forward in life in tangible ways but there will always be a part of you that feels like a hamster on a wheel.
And with the rat race, comes a false sense of self that feels comforting.
5) An idealized self
In other words, your ego!
This is the version of you that you have in your head who ticks off all the “right” boxes on other people’s definitions of you.
It’s the person you think you have to be in order to feel good enough when you already are.
The problem with this is that there’s no room for exploration. And trying to please everyone will stagnate your growth because it’s impossible to make everyone happy.
Even if you’ve obliterated your inner critic and people pleaser, perfectionism can creep up in how you view the world.
6) An idealized view of the world
An idealized view of the world shows up in the way you blame yourself for all the things that go wrong in your life.
I only became at peace with uncontrollable circumstances once I stopped expecting everything to go my way.
Some ways you might be struggling with this and not know it is if you feel a lot of paranoia when it comes to trying new things.
Or if you become extremely critical of those around you for not fitting your expectations. And that can be tough when you’re trying to grow up and figure out what your boundaries are.
To find the middle ground, you need to have the courage to admit that you’ve been expecting perfection from yourself and the world.
Need a tip on how to make the distinction? Get to know how much instant gratification you’ve been subscribing to.
7) Instant gratification
Another socially acceptable caveat is how we are all so accustomed to instant gratification.
From Amazon Prime deliveries to using “self-care” as an excuse to over-indulge in certain substances, so many of our dopamine receptors are busted from these behaviors.
But patience is a virtue. And unless you give yourself the time and space to understand that, you’ll never move on from the same circumstances that only repeat themselves.
Because moving forward in life isn’t just about changing what’s around you, it’s how you see them.
The best things are slow to happen and take time to keep. Trust, balance, and integrity, for example.
So get comfortable with the simple things again if you want to reset the way you attach. While you’re at it, address all the moments your overthinking takes the wheel.
8) Overthinking decisions
I know, easier said than done.
As someone with anxiety, overthinking is one of those things that just happens without me being aware of it.
So many of us overthink because we are fixated on the results, and we are quick to think we are in the wrong because of it.
But what is a good result if it doesn’t make you happy? If it doesn’t make you feel proud to have listened to your gut instincts?
Luckily, awareness is something you can achieve by focusing more on the present moment.
Practice becoming aware of your thoughts and the stories they tell – do they keep your well-being in mind?
When in doubt, blame your gut for why you chose to do what you did. And stand up for your decisions the way you would do for a good friend.
Not a lot of people can say that they have done what’s best for themselves at the moment.
Another way that instant gratification and a need for control haunt us is by convincing us that being comfortable is better than having integrity.
In a list of advice that older Americans would give, many of them expressed how they had wished they were more honest.
That they wish they took more chances in their relationships and career by not staying comfortable.
So yes, the present is the only thing that’s real. But you have to realize that if growth is something you want, you need to view your present as something more expansive.
It’s not just the moment and the world around you right now, it’s a space where anything is possible.
When you think of it like that, it doesn’t make sense to stay comfortable if your definition of comfort evolves around anyone but yourself.
10) Unhealthy relationships
Emotional attachments are a part of being human and ending them isn’t supposed to be easy.
But it’s necessary if you want to move forward and put yourself first.
I’ve had so many friends who held onto people they weren’t in love with anymore because they felt like they owed their growth to their relationships.
Or they didn’t believe they would be capable of being single because they had relied on someone for so long. Even if their partners were affecting them negatively.
Consciously creating the world around yourself means you take your power back from people who don’t serve you.
Because all you can change is yourself, you can’t force people to do what’s best for themselves – that’s their job.
And a part of detaching from unhealthy relationships is understanding just that.
Attachments keep us from accepting what we cannot change
While I believe that to be attached is to be human, so is to grow and change.
If you don’t attach, you won’t know what to detach from. Therefore if you want to move forward, the point isn’t to be as detached as possible.
Instead, it’s about appreciating everything for how it served you in the moment by letting them go.
It won’t be easy, but it’s not impossible – because if you can think it, you can achieve it.
And that should tell you more than enough about who you truly are and are on your way to be.