The Perils of Identity Entanglement: Unraveling the Problems of Attachment to Things

Young lady with the attachment of luxury items | Happiness 2.0


In our modern consumer-driven society, it is all too easy to entangle our identity with external possessions and achievements. We often fall into the trap of believing that our worth and happiness depend on the things we own or the roles we play. However, this attachment to material possessions and external identities can lead to a host of problems. In this blog post, we will explore the perils of identity entanglement, shedding light on its consequences and providing insights on how to cultivate a healthier relationship with the things in our lives. We will also cite two scientific studies that support these observations. So, let’s embark on a journey of self-reflection and liberation.

The Illusion of External Validation:

One of the core problems that arise from entangling our identity with things is the illusion of external validation. We seek approval, acceptance, and a sense of self-worth through material possessions, societal status, and achievements. However, relying on external validation to define our identity puts us at the mercy of ever-changing circumstances, leading to a perpetual cycle of seeking and never truly feeling fulfilled.

A study published in the Journal of Happiness Studies investigated the relationship between materialism and subjective well-being. The research revealed that individuals who strongly tied their self-worth to material possessions experienced lower levels of life satisfaction and overall happiness. This study highlights the negative impact of identity entanglement with things on our well-being.

The Emptiness of Consumerism:

Another problem that arises from identifying with things is the emptiness that accompanies consumerism. The pursuit of material possessions as a means to find fulfillment often leads to a constant craving for more. We mistakenly believe that acquiring more things will bring us lasting happiness, only to realize that the initial excitement fades quickly, leaving us feeling empty and unsatisfied. This perpetual cycle of seeking external gratification can leave us disconnected from our true selves and the deeper sources of joy and contentment.

Research conducted at Northwestern University explored the relationship between materialism and psychological well-being. The study found that individuals who prioritized materialistic values experienced higher levels of anxiety, depression, and a decreased sense of vitality and life satisfaction. This research further highlights the detrimental effects of identity entanglement with things on our psychological well-being.

Cultivating a Healthier Perspective:

To overcome the problems of identity entanglement, it is crucial to shift our perspective and cultivate a healthier relationship with the things in our lives.

Here are some practical steps to help us navigate this journey:

  1. Self-reflection and introspection: Take the time to reflect on your values, passions, and true sources of fulfillment. Understand that your worth goes beyond material possessions and external achievements.
  2. Gratitude and contentment: Practice gratitude for what you have in the present moment. Appreciate the simple pleasures and the intangible aspects of life that bring you joy and fulfillment.
  3. Mindful consumption: Approach consumption mindfully. Before making a purchase, ask yourself if it aligns with your values and if it genuinely adds value to your life. Consider the long-term impact of your choices on your well-being and the environment.
  4. Cultivate meaningful connections: Focus on building authentic relationships and connections based on shared values, experiences, and personal growth. Seek connections that nurture your true self rather than connections based on material status or possessions.
  5. Inner growth and self-care: Invest in activities that nourish your mind, body, and soul. Engage in practices such as mindfulness, meditation, self-reflection, and self-care to deepen your understanding of yourself and find fulfillment from within.


Entangling our identity with things can lead us down a path of perpetual seeking and disconnection from our true selves. However, by recognizing the problems that arise from this entanglement, we can embark on a journey of self-reflection and liberation. Supported by scientific studies, we understand that material possessions and external achievements do not define our worth or guarantee lasting happiness. By cultivating a healthier perspective, practicing gratitude, mindful consumption, and prioritizing meaningful connections and personal growth, we can free ourselves from the perils of identity entanglement and discover a deeper sense of fulfillment and contentment in our lives.

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