It’s harder for some artists than others - saying goodbye to a painting. I don’t think it means one artist cares about their work more than another, although there are artists who crank out the same image repeatedly until it is robotic. I won’t wade into those murky waters though.
In my experience, the difference is what I’m connecting to — the end product of my work or the work process itself. The process is where the joy and discovery is - that’s where I (with a capital letter) am. Very simply, if I keep my attention on the creating, doing, and completing then my ability and joy is increased. As I finish a piece I feel like I’m releasing it. I thank it for the experience we’ve shared and present it to others as respectfully as possible. In other words, frame it cleanly, simply, and show it in a respectful setting.
At that point, if and when it sells, my focus is already on another painting. I’ve given the piece that’s completed the very best I have to offer and I am happy to see it move along on its journey. Anything short of selling or leaving my studio to be seen in a show or exhibition is incomplete.
That’s how it works in MY head. Attachment to learning and growing is much healthier to me than attachment to the end result. I want to see my work appreciated and understood but I have little control over that — I only have control over my experience during my time WITH it.
And speaking of attachment, we all have to attach to the work ideas that motivate and make sense to us — whatever keeps us moving forward creatively and productively. I think most artists that work daily have developed personal strategies - whether they verbalize them or not.