Archive for March, 2008

Attachment: the root of insecurity and anxiety

What do we worry about? Whether we will lose our job? Whether our spouse will leave us or cheat on us? Whether a loved one will fall ill and die? Why do we worry about such things? Do we worry because they are likely possibilities? Or is such worrying mere paranoia? In either case, how can we reduce this anxiety?

Like it or not, none of the events I have mentioned are unavoidable. We can certainly reduce the risk of their occurrence: if we work hard then our job is more secure; if we take care of ourselves then our health is better; if we put a lot of energy and love into our relationships then we are less likely to split from our spouse. All of these efforts will improve our lives and will lower our anxiety. However, if we are after some kind of 100% guarantee that nothing will go wrong, then we were born to the wrong species and we live on the wrong planet.

Ultimately, anything could happen. The only way to find security is to accept this. The root cause of our anxiety is attachment. We are attached to the idea that our happiness relies on financial stability, a secure relationship, and good health for ourselves and for those around us. Because none of these things can ever be guaranteed, we can never be rid of anxiety if we harbour such beliefs. We can only release anxiety if we accept that any of these things could be taken away from us, and that it does not matter if they are.

Thus, we must drop our attachments. We must ask what is really essential. If we answer this honestly, we will find that our happiness has more to do with who we are than with what happens to us. It is easy to become attached to an idea and to convince ourselves that we cannot be happy without it. However, this is ultimately a delusion, leading only to insecurity and anxiety. We must realize that none of these things are so important after all.

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