A disordered attachment can often be difficult to recognize or admit in ourselves. They can be seductive and masquerade as “needs” essential to life. But there are definite fruits where we can distinguish disordered attachments from ordinary and proper desires referred to above.
The identifying characteristic of a disordered attachment is that it triggers an adverse emotional response when our desired expectations are threatened or denied. At such point we have become subjugated to creation rather than our Creator for our life, happiness, and joy. The triggering of our negative emotions is a warning sign that we are overly attached to someone or something.
Also, that which we emotionally avoid and resist is just as much an attachment as is something we crave and desire. The attachment is to the fulfillment of our disordered expectations. Since it is backed by the full rush of our emotions, each attachment has the potential to put us in a state of emotional warfare with our self, others, and God.
When our disordered cravings and desires are threatened or unrealized, as will always be the case to one degree or another, it can engender a host of negative emotions that preoccupy, distract, and do us harm. Obviously, we attract fear, worry, and distress into our life when our disordered expectations are threatened. As this continues over time, fear can intensify to anxiety and paranoia.
When progress towards the fulfillment of our expectations is consistently less than desired we experience frustration, boredom, cynicism, and despair. These harmful emotions dominate our consciousness and keep us from perceiving clearly.
We become quick to blame others and adept at rationalizing the real or imagined impairments to our expectations. We lash out with feelings of suspicion, anger, resentment, and jealousy. In reality we bring this on ourselves when we first attempt to control and manipulate people and situations in our lives to comply with our disordered expectations.
A large part of this problem is the way we were taught to approach life reinforces the feelings and situations that result in failure and unhappiness. We are taught from an early age to seek external power through exploration and study of the physical world. We undergo years of education where we learn to satisfy our wants and desires through manipulation and control of what we discovered.
This way of achieving happiness can’t possibly work, because contrary to popular opinion, happiness is not obtained through the accumulation, manipulation, and control of people and situations.
(to be continued)
Copyright 2018, Erin Foord, ocds
About the author: Erin Foord has been a Secular Discalced Carmelite for many, many years. He served as President of the Arizona-California Provincial Council until very recently. He gave this conference as part of an Ongoing Formation class for the Santa Clara , CA OCDS community.