We all have a tendency to define and identify ourselves by our attachments - résumés, clothes, job title, social status, academic accomplishments. I'm a successful person because I own nice things; I'm a smart person because I read and think a lot and have informed opinion. We buy into the stories we (and others) tell about who we are based on our attachments. Often we take our first steps on the spiritual path because we realize that we don't want to do this any longer.
When we make a commitment to the spiritual path, we enter into an unspoken internal contract with ourselves: We agree that we will begin thinking about what our attachments cost us. We will begin thinking about the stories we tell ourselves about who we are and what's important.
We ask ourselves: Do we own our possessions or do they own us? Are we controlled by our desire for pleasure? Do our opinions so define us that our innate goodness gets lost in the rhetoric? Are we so driven by our need for personal rites and rituals, schedules, timetables, and set ways of doing things that our priorities are lost? Are we so attached to our ego that...we are accidents waiting to happen?
When we walk the spiritual path, we start relinquishing the attachments that aren't really important in the long run.
Every loss can make way for gifts yet unimagined.
I think the above questions make for very good reflection exercises. Often we aren't aware of an attachment until suffering arises around it. But have we considered the possibility that we could prevent suffering by identifying attachments ahead of time and learning to sit loose to them?