“Why Do All The People I Love Leave Me?”: A Look Into Anxious Clinging, and How To Leave It Behind

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  • 8/8/17
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Have you ever had something that you cherished so much that you became debilitated by the fear of ever losing it?

Because, same. I think we’ve pretty much all had things we’ve been desperate to hold onto throughout our lives. However, I’ve noticed that there’s one big change in the things that I’ve been desperate to hold onto as I’ve gotten older, and I’m assuming it may be the same for others: “The True Value”.

Oh, good, she’s gonna try to be ‘super deep’ in this post. Talkin’ about some ‘true value’, and shit”, you may be thinking. You’re damn right, I’m about to try to be deep. Sometimes, that’s a thing that’s gonna happen. Whether or not it’s about to be executed well, I’m not entirely sure, but you’re stuck with it for now!

When I talk about “The True Value” of something, here’s what I’m getting at: Think about what you used to wanna sacrifice your sibling(s) for as a kid. You wanted the newest video games, movies, toys, or whatever you knew your friends would envy if they saw it at your house. The flashier it was, the more you saw wanted it. However, you quickly began to realize that you were only fascinated with it while it was new. Once you’d had it for a couple of days, it lost its spark, and you were ready to beg your parents to get you the next flashiest thing.

As you got older, you began to focus less on the flashy things, and more on your relationships with those around you, what they brought into your life, and what you brought into their’s. You got past the middle-to-high school stage where your relationships with people switched up like the clothes you wore, and you started to notice the main things that were left when it felt like nothing else was: your unique life experiences, and your “core” people. You started to hang onto them for dear life, and you realized that the rewarding feeling of having those things far surpassed the fleeting excitement you felt at having new toys as a kid. What you wanted as a kid only got you a short dopamine rush, while the things that you gained as an adult helped you cope and survive into different points in your life. Those things, my friends, are what hold true value

Once most people find things that hold true value to them, over time, they begin to take advantage of those things. They don’t necessarily cause harm to those things or belittle them, but they become so used to having them that they think they could never lose them, and so they give those things little thought after a while. However, for those of us with either anxious minds or a fear of abandonment, we quickly become engulfed in fear for what we truly value. We start to think, “This world can be pretty cruel, so surely this thing that I have is too good to exist in it for very long.” We start to no longer simply cherish who and what we have, but cling to them for dear life, thinking of how things could go wrong to rid us of them. Little problems that don’t mean much to other people bring extreme distress to us, and we end up spending our time feeling like we have to walk on eggshells to avoid the ultimate demise of our happiness.

We’re just waiting, waiting, waiting….to lose it all. And that’s when we lose our true values.

Now, listen here. One of the main reasons we’re put into this life is to experience absolutely everything to the fullest. We’re here to experience bountiful joy, just as much as we’re here to experience tremendous heartbreak. There’s no way around either of those as long as you’re alive, even though it sucks to think that we can’t avoid all the shitty things. However, what makes it harder to cope with absolutely everything in life is when we cling to things unnaturally in fear that they’ll eventually either fail or leave us. We end up perpetually living in an awful future, instead of living in a beautiful present.

Why do we even do this? The answer differs depending on the circumstances. Sometimes, we feel we don’t deserve good in life, so we feel incredulous when it pops up. Other times, we feel that we’ve noticed a pattern of things failing us in the past, and so we hold the rest of our lives to the same standard. Overall, we feel that anticipating the fall in everything is necessary to prepare us so that we don’t end up as hurt in the end. But, let me let you in on a little harsh reality: situations that suck will still suck just as much as if we weren’t “prepared”. So, what was the point in even wasting all the time we could’ve been enjoying what we had? Who’s to say that anything has to even go wrong?

I’ve heard from many epic quotes from different greats that the biggest fear that humans collectively have is the fear of the unknown. So, it’s absolutely terrifying to not be expecting something, good or bad. But, we have to be willing to get used to the discomfort of living in the moment and finding true value in that. And yes, that means that you have to work on breaking out of the comfort zone of waiting for the worst.

The only way I’ve been able to halfway wrap that concept around my neurotic head is to approach things with the mindset that I have nothing to lose.

That seems totally contradictory, right? If you have things in your life that you’re not willing to give up for anything, how could you possibly have the mindset that you have nothing to lose?

I actually stumped myself with that one. There goes being deep when I didn’t initially know the answer to my own rhetorical question. BUT, that didn’t stop me from finally remembering what I was getting at!

When fearfully clinging, whether you’re aware or not, you’re looking at your friends, family, girlfriend/boyfriend, or spouse and your relationships with them as possessions, and that’s very unhealthy. Think back to the things that you yearned for as a kid. I bet there were at least a few times where you didn’t wanna let anyone else touch, see, play with, or share a new toy you’d gotten. All you could think was that it was yours, and there was no way you’d let anyone else have it. You mainly wanted to protect it and make sure that nothing and nobody could take it from you. You HAD to be in control.

However, your true values are supposed to be things that you open yourself up with, not close yourself off for. They are the things that you share with others to make them the best experiences you can have, not cut off from everyone in fear that something will tarnish it. I promise you, if those values are true, they’re going to stick around regardless. And if they don’t, there are different ones coming. 

You can’t go out and have a good time with your friends if you’re clinging to the fact that you want to keep your cool exterior. You have to be willing to let loose and look like a fool to have the time of your life! You can’t fully experience the unconditional love in your relationship if you waste your time looking for signs that it’s all coming to an end. You have to experience the relationship on a moment-to-moment basis, letting your love flow freely as it stands in those moments. You can’t grow as a person if the only thing that matters to you is holding on to unwavering, biased views of the world. You have to be willing to at least temporarily put them aside to understand and empathize with the views of others. 

You cannot possess your true values and expect to live a life without the fear of having them taken away. However, you can experience your true values, moment by moment, and make the best of all of them. You can still tend to and care for your true values without holding them hostage. 


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