“All Pain Comes from Attachment” - The Buddha
It’s that time of the year again! I recently received a wish list from my son of gift ideas for his daughter – my granddaughter. To date I have been quite abstemious with gifts for her in my attempt not to make the mistakes I made with my own children – the subconscious notion that they would love me more if I could just find the right toys.
I’ve learned over the years to move away from materialism and commercialism and have felt much better for it. We certainly don’t derive happiness from accumulating toys – in fact, the opposite is generally true.
Nevertheless, I did pick a couple of items from the list, one of them being a little white dog soft toy that I ordered from Amazon. No sooner had I pushed the ‘confirm order’ button than the dog arrived at the doorstep or so it seemed. To my amazement, when I unwrapped the toy, the dog was almost identical to a toy dog I had when I was a toddler. That dog, named ‘Tinkerbell’ because of a small bell attached to its collar, was the love of my life. I can so clearly remember the day when tragedy struck and I was in bed with a fever, Tinkerbell by my side. I threw up all over her and my father, a doctor, unceremoniously threw her in the garbage. I was devastated! Not only did I lose my best friend, but my father was the mean ogre that did away with her. The repercussions of that incident reverberated throughout my life subsequently.
On that day, I made up that I could lose love and that I could be betrayed – the strained relationship I had with my father began at that point.
My surprise at the similarity of this little dog for my little granddaughter made me wonder:
If my granddaughter is raised with an awareness that she doesn’t need toys to find happiness, and that things are just things, she won’t suffer pain if her toy is lost. We can also help by not indulging every request for things – our children don’t need them, and by having a family gratitude habit. The antidote to attachment to things is simply to reinforce at every opportunity that our child’s worth (and our own) is inherent, that the essence of our being is love, and that love can never be lost.
Revisiting my childhood traumatic loss was a great reminder of how easily we make up negative beliefs about ourselves when we were young and by using the Choose Again Six Step Process I can find out what those were. It was a timely reminder to stay true to my only purpose – to extend love, which is, ultimately, the message of this season.
I’m passionate about prevention of substance abuse, depression, bullying, and suicide in teens, and I’ve chosen to spend my time helping parents to raise resilient, bully-proof, addiction-free kids. I know firsthand the emotional and financial costs of having a troubled teenager and I don’t want that to happen to you.