This is going to be a more philosophical post, but, for the literal-minded, let me just say I don’t want anyone to literally kill the objects of his desire. That would be bad.
With that out of the way, let’s get to the heart of this post, which is going to deal with attachment. Let’s just say this: attachment is bad. And, we all get it at times.
It’s important to have drive, goals, and motivation. Without it, you’re not detached; you’re simply lazy. But, having someone or something as a goal and a strong object of desire is counterproductive in achieving that goal.
On an episode of the television show The Wonder Years, Kevin Arnold walks into a ballpark, practices with a team there, and hits a home run. They sign him up. He struggles after that, and is eventually cut. What happens next at his last at bat? A home run.
Although certainly a fictional example, this story is grounded in the truth. I don’t want to get into the spiritual side of attachment, although it is worth noting that detachment (sometimes called non-attachment) is considered a sign of enlightenment in nearly all of the world’s religions. What I want to focus on is the practical side of it all.
When we’re attached, we desperately want the outcome. And when we’re desperate, our bodies begin to behave differently. Our brain chemistry changes; our hormones change. Look at a cornered wild animal that gets desperate. Its body starts a stress reaction that leads to negative changes. It needs the focus, energy, and adrenaline to run or fight. But, when it’s over, its hormones return to normal.
When we’re desperate the same thing happens. While those hormones are good in times of real danger, long-term (or even short term outside of the immediate danger), they wear us down and make us lose our competitive edge. We’re not meant to be on edge beyond a few minutes of stress.
Attached men are often anxious, inflexible, and project a lack of confidence. They come across as needy and anxious. They’re not at their best because their brains are literally in a state of stress. Their hormones are out of whack.
In order to be successful and popular, it’s important to kill (symbolically) your strongest desires. In many ways, this involves destroying and detaching from the expectations.
Let’s take dating as an example. You’re a guy and you meet a great girl. She gives you some attention in return and you “fall for her.” You’re attached and it wreaks havoc on your life as you impatiently wait for texts, anticipate seeing her every second, and analyze every single word she says for clues about how much she does (or doesn’t) love you. It literally starts to drive you crazy.
To detach, you don’t need to leave the girl. But, you must destroy your expectations and attachment to her. You have to stop caring about the texts, stop analyzing her every word, and be content with your buddies if she’s busy on the weekend. You have to be content to simply be in the moment rather than worrying about the future, or being attached to the past (for example, maybe the last girl you dated cheated on you and you’re worried she will do the same).
While it seems that killing your expected relationship with this girl is going to result in her loss, it actually has the opposite effect. Killing your desire for her frees you to actually date her in a way that allows you to be happy with her, and she will love you more for not being needy, emotionally unstable, and controlling. Ironically, you’re “killing” the relationship in order to be free to actually be in the relationship. Remember, I said this post was philosophical.
So, whatever you desire to the point of attachment and a lack of mental health, destroy your expectations and free yourself to actually enjoy it and be your best. This type of detachment is present in all great leaders and excellent men.