Emotional Attachment

Today I read a post over at Zen Habits about Simplifying your Life with Balance and part of the post really resonated with me. In our lives we become emotionally attached to things regardless of what they are. I know that in the past I have kept little rocks from trips because of something that had happened as a reminder. But at the end of the day I still have the memory and now I’m just carting a rock around (they’ve been tossed out). Does that diminish the emotional value of the memento? No it doesn’t but having too many of these can become a very large rock collection.

This emotional attachment by itself is not a bad thing as long as there is balance (as the post says); the funny thing is when money comes into the picture that attachment becomes stronger. When you put your money behind something stupid you are more likely to stick with it no matter if it’s continuing to cost you money. Personally I’ve held onto things that i purchased long long after I stopped using them; mostly because I had paid a lot of money. I emotionally invested myself in that purchase and getting rid of it became hard for me (in my case it was an old laptop that i have since thrown out).

Why does money make the emotional attachment of our decisions so much harder to break?

Unfortunately I’m not a psychologist so I can’t fully answer this question but I can give some personal perspective. When we spend on on a purchase means we are trading our hard earned money and effort for that item. When we realize that the money has been spent in error or not been fully realized we carry a certain guilt with it especially if its a lot of money. We have trouble getting rid of something simply because of how much money we spent on it and personally I’ve seen the emotional attachment holding steady when logic has acknowledged the item was junk.

Since starting this blog a few years ago I have become much less materialistic in my ways (to the chagrin of my wife to can’t find me Christmas presents anymore). With that said I still feel the urge to spend on toys and gadgets that I won’t use. But what really helped me solidify the self control not to spend was experiencing this emotional attachment to that stupid laptop. I now understand that if I put money into something it is sunk money and it shouldn’t carry any additional weight. Does this mean it won’t ever happen again to me? No I might buy an iPad tomorrow and refuse to get rid of it for years even though I don’t use it. I am clearly aware that money I spend on something might mean my attachment to it is stronger so I try to really understand if the purchase is really an item I need.

Being emotionally attached to something in your life can make it incredibly hard to change; as long as you know where that attachment comes from it will make it easier for you to decide if you really want to keep that thing or activity in your life.

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