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Stop Attaching yourself to bad memories that could trigger depressionWe all have stories to tell. That’s part of the beauty of being human. We each have different experiences with our own unique perspectives to share. We become closer to other people when we share our stories. The more we share, the more intense the bond between two people can become.

But what happens when we’re telling our stories to ourselves? We’ve heard them all before. And we believe in them. And they, too become more intense the more they’re shared. And sometimes, we become attached to the stories we tell ourselves.

When we’re attached to certain stories about ourselves, the stories can sometimes take on a life of their own. They become deeply entrenched as parts of us.

We hang on to our stories even when they hurt us. And we repeat them over and over and over again. Our belief in our attachments can become self-destructive. That’s what happened to me.

Currently working through my own recovery, I’m taking notice to how my own attachments to my thoughts, actions and feelings can hold me back.

I’ve got one attachment that I just haven’t been able to crack yet. I know it’s irrational. I know it was told to me as a child by parents who were trying to be supportive. But, it’s the hammer I’ve used for years to abuse myself – “You can do anything you want.” I still believe it. I still live by it. And I still beat myself up with it.

I’m finding that there are many attachments that I can let go of and I’m working on them now. This first set of attachments are attachments I’ve had to my thoughts.

I’ve always thought that I should be perfect in whatever I try to do – the perfect son, the perfect husband, the perfect dad, the perfect employee. This false perception of myself drove me nuts! No matter how good I was or how well I performed, it still wasn’t good enough. I’m starting to break this one down, but perfectionism can be tough!

Other thoughts that I’m working to let go of are thoughts that I’m not worthy of living. These thoughts grew out of my perfectionism. Constant perceived failure wore down my view of myself over time until I started to believe that I wasn’t worth being alive. Recent time in the hospital has really helped change my perspective on myself in this area.

I’ve also got some attachments to things I’ve done through the years, which may seem a little strange, but they’re events that I have just kept hanging on to. Things that I’ve done that I still replay in my mind, sometimes wondering what would have happened if I had done things differently. A completely futile exercise, but one that I complete nonetheless.

One of the things I often wonder about is all of the days I’ve spent on my couch, hiding from life throughout the past twenty-some years. What have I missed? How many people have I let down or hurt? What about myself? Was I selling myself short? It’s painful to know I’ve missed out on things I could have done, but the worst feeling I get is when I think about all the time I could have been spending with my family.

There have been several times where I’ve taken myself off my medication through the years. I think about that a lot too, curious if I’ve lost years of happiness because of my hang-ups about needing to be on something to manage my illnesses. I wonder if I’d be years further along in my recovery if I had just stuck with the plan.

Although it’s a very recent event in my life, I look back at my hospitalization often, thinking about how I used my time there, if I got the most out of it, if there was something I could have done differently. I don’t want to forget the lessons I learned while I was there. I hang on to my time there as a badge of honor of the changes I’m trying to make in my life.

The last group of things I’ve found that I hang on to are my feelings. Some of these are good feelings and I look at them as good attachments. I remember vividly the first time I realized I was in love with my wife and I hold onto that feeling tightly. I cherish it. But there are also other feelings I hang onto that aren’t so good.

I hang onto anger I felt towards God when I was deep in depression and my prayers weren’t being answered. This has diminished a great deal over time and isn’t boiling just under the surface like it used to, but I did change my religion, and my anger still comes out occasionally when I see people carrying very narrow views of the world in the name of God.

I have found that feelings have been the easiest thing for me to learn to let go of. For me, feelings are the easiest to see as things that come and go. Feelings can be valid and still pass. Feelings don’t have to define me.

Attachments are parts of all of us – we’re all human, all imperfect. As we grow – whether through the recovery process like me, or just as part of life – we learn to see that attachments are quite often not good for us. Letting go can be a difficult thing – our attachments can become deeply ingrained habits. Awareness is the first part of letting go. Then the more we see our attachments as false or hurtful, we can begin to let them go. By letting go of our attachments, we can broaden our view of the world and free ourselves to live more in the present moment.

Jason Large,

Daily Zen.

Jason has suffered from depression and anxiety for over twenty years. He can be contacted at:

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