Possessiveness is fundamentally a fear of loss.
Possessiveness is a common human trait that often goes unnoticed. We are taught to value ownership, control, and exclusivity, whether it’s in our relationships, our material possessions, or our beliefs. However, when possessiveness becomes excessive or rigid, it can lead to various forms of suffering, such as jealousy, anxiety, resentment, and even violence. In this article, we will explore the roots, consequences, and alternatives to possessiveness from different philosophical perspectives.
Possessiveness creates feelings of fear, then anger and finally sadness.
The harm caused by possessiveness can vary depending on the degree and intensity of the possessiveness, as well as the individual’s coping mechanisms and support systems. However, excessive possessiveness can have significant negative consequences.
The Roots of Possessiveness:
Possessiveness can be traced back to our innate survival instinct, which drives us to acquire and protect resources that we perceive as essential to our well-being. This instinct is adaptive and necessary in certain situations, such as finding food, shelter, and safety.
Some families teach their children to share and cooperate, while others encourage them to hoard and compete, some cultures promote collectivism and interdependence, while others emphasize individualism and competition.
Possessiveness can cause significant suffering and distress, but there are several remedial actions that one can take to alleviate sufferings by the study of spiritual scriptures, practicing self-reflection, mindfulness, seeking support, seeking professional help, and cultivating gratitude.
The Consequences of Possessiveness:
- Jealousy: Possessiveness often involves the fear of losing what we have or not getting what we want.
- Attachment: Possessiveness creates a strong attachment to things or people that we perceive as ours. This attachment can lead to dependence, obsession, and emotional pain when we are separated or threatened by them. This happens mostly in Relationship possessiveness.
- Conflict: Possessiveness can lead to conflicts with others who have different or conflicting interests, beliefs, or values.
Some common kinds of possessiveness:
Trust is a vital aspect of a healthy relationship:
Possessiveness can strain relationships, as it can lead to controlling and jealous behaviour that can damage trust and intimacy. It can also cause resentment and anger in the other person, leading to conflicts and possibly the breakdown of the relationship.
Consequences and remedies:
Relationship possessiveness: Can be particularly harmful in the context of a marriage, where one partner may feel entitled to possess or control the other. Impractical demands are a common feature of relationship possessiveness.
Betrayal in a relationship can be a painful and traumatic experience, especially when it involves possessiveness and control. When one partner betrays the other, it can shatter the trust and intimacy that are essential for a healthy relationship. In such cases, it is important to approach the situation with compassion, empathy, and a commitment to healing and growth. It is important to explore the root causes of the betrayal, which may include underlying issues such as addiction or mental health problems.
Various other possessiveness causes sufferings too.
Material possessiveness: An excessive attachment to material possessions such as money, cars, houses, or gadgets, and a fear of losing them or not having enough of them.
Intellectual possessiveness: A strong attachment to one’s qualification, beliefs, ideas, or opinions, and a tendency to dismiss or attack opposing views or evidence.
Status possessiveness: A desire for social status, recognition, or power, and a fear of losing them or being perceived as inferior.
Spiritual possessiveness: A rigid attachment to spiritual practices, beliefs, or teachers, and a tendency to exclude or judge others who do not conform to one’s standards.
Cultural possessiveness: A strong attachment to one’s cultural identity, values, or traditions, and a tendency to reject or criticize other cultures or lifestyles.
In Sanskrit, the term for possessiveness is “mamatva” (ममत्व). This term is derived from the root word “mama” which means “mine” or “belonging to me”. The suffix “-tva” indicates a state or quality of being, thus “mamatva” refers to the state or quality of possessing or owning something as one’s own.
In Vedanta, the concept of “mamatva” or possessiveness is seen as a source of suffering and an obstacle to spiritual growth. Vedanta teaches that the true nature of the self (Atman) is pure consciousness and that it is not limited or defined by any possessions, relationships, or identities. Possessiveness arises from the illusion of separation and the mistaken identification of the self with external objects or relationships.
Practice of renunciation:
Practice of renunciation is an important tool for overcoming excessive possession and attachment. By voluntarily giving up worldly possessions and attachments, individuals can cultivate inner peace, detachment, and spiritual growth. Vedanta teaches that the path to liberation or enlightenment involves transcending this illusion and realizing the true nature of the self as pure consciousness. Vedanta emphasizes the importance of detachment (vairagya) as a means of overcoming possessiveness and cultivating spiritual growth.
Some ancient Indian texts and their specific teachings on possessiveness:
Bhagavad Gita – In chapter 2, Shloka 62, the text says, “While contemplating the objects of the senses, one develops attachment to them. Attachment leads to desire, and from desire arises anger.” The text also teaches the importance of detachment in chapter 3, Shloka 29, where it says, “The wise ones do not get attached to the fruits of their actions. They work without any attachment, without any selfish motives.”
Yoga Sutras of Patanjali – This text is a collection of aphorisms on the practice of yoga, including the concept of vairagya or detachment from worldly attachments and desires. In sutra 1.15, Patanjali says, “When non-attachment (vairagya) is achieved, there is the desire for the state of perfect discrimination. Here, Patanjali teaches that detachment from worldly attachments and desires is a necessary step towards achieving discrimination and wisdom.
Upanishads – The Upanishads contain teachings on the nature of the self, the universe, and the relationship between them, which are relevant to the concept of possessiveness. In the BRRihadAraNyaka Upanishad, Shloka 2.4.5, it says, “This Self, which is free from sin, free from old age, free from death and grief, free from hunger and thirst, whose desires are the Self, whose will is the Self, should be searched out, should be understood.”
Possessiveness is a common human tendency that can lead to suffering and attachment. Various ancient Indian texts emphasize the importance of detachment and cultivating right conduct in acquiring and using possessions. They highlight the ultimate goal of realizing the true nature of the self, which is not defined by possessions or attachments but by its infinite and eternal nature.
17 thoughts on “Possessiveness Brings Pain.”
Thank you, Arun, for this eloquent essay and presentation.
Thank you so much Joanna for your appreciation.
You are more than welcome!
Sir, This post is informative and these days possessiveness have become so common and less focused to reflect in the race of life. Humility is the key to suppress egoistic pursuits likewise contentment is the solution for it. Knowing the value of what one possess will refrain from any such comparisons or envious feelings. Swami Dayananda Saraswathi has written a beautiful book called value of values which talks about this in depth. Hope everybody reads it to gain an understanding and appreciate of one’s value and limitations. Thank you for your commitment to post such articles. Be safe and take care🙏
Thank you so much for your comments.
I must read the book value of values by Swami Dayananda Saraswati.
What I have written is based on more of my experiences gained through pains.
Stay blessed always 😊🙏
thanks for writing this Arun ji !
Hi Sir, this is an Excellent and much essential article that anyone can relate to. We as human truly possess for something in any point in time. Too much attachments can be the reason which may lead to detachment with too much possessiveness. But little jealous is okay sometimes, when it’s filled with love.🥰
The slokas from Bhagavat Geeta and the remedial actions are wonderfully articulated. Thanks a lot for sharing such an impressive post.
Hope you are doing well. Please take care. With much love n respect 😇❤🙏🙏
This is a very interesting and helpful post. It’s really necessary to Know the merit and demerit of possessiveness
A great & deep learning!!
I can truly say that I am approaching the end of my life. So,
I feel, at this stage of my life ‘Possessiveness’ does not play much of a part in my life anymore.
Thinking back over my very long life, I realise that whenever I went through painful emotions the impossibility of ‘Possessiveness’ may have been the cause of all that pain.
Very true are your words ☺️
Now at this point, you are saying about the end of your this life which is mortal.
But we are immortal. Only body dies. The Soul doesn’t. Our real identity is immortal Soul.
Find that inside you. Speak with Soul, the infinity.
Our real nature is only a Bliss.
Body and mind passes through pain and pleasure. Pleasure brings pain. Pain brings Wisdom.
Whatever be, when you say you are approaching to the end of life,i cannot accept that.
Please keep yourself safe and healthy 🙏❤️😊
A big hug 🤗
Yes, thank you. Arun. I’d like to give you a big hug too! 🤗🥰❤
I do feel safe and healthy, even though my old body may die soon. It is good to know, that the soul is immortal. So, there is nothing to fear, is there? 🥰
“Body and mind passes through pain and pleasure. Pleasure brings pain. Pain brings Wisdom.” This is so well said, Arun. Thank you, thank you very much! I can only agree with that . . . 🌲💚🤍
We are all beyond body and mind. Behind mind is intellect. Behind intellect is Bliss. We must dwell upon Bliss.
Have a great day 🌹😊🙏❣️
Namaste Arun ji. Nice topic.😊
I would like to share my experience and views on this. I think when we are young, we feel possessive for our belongings, relations and everything we have in our life. As we get mature and understand this world year on year, we understand that we have to share everything we have got in this life.
Let it be material things or relations…we have to share. For example at first we learn to share our things and the love of our parents with our siblings.
Then after marriage also we have to share our love with our new family. Husband’s love is also divided between his family and us. Our children also love their families and we have to share that love also.😇
Being possessive ruins relationships. “Sharing is caring” is right in every aspect of life.
Thank you so much for writing on this. 🙏🏻 🙏🏻
Namaste Anita Ji. Hope everything fine there. Very happy to see your comments. Very true what you have written. At this age, I feel to detachment is required to some extent. Let us not get pain through attachments whether material or relation etc.
I thought that in each and every step, I should not be sad for loosing something, be it prestige, or be it property or be it anything else.
Thank you so much for your comments.