When I decided to write about Detachment, it took me a lot to decide what should be the cover image. I mean, I googled a lot but nothing made sense. And somehow I stumbled on this image, ‘FAITH’. Nothing could be more accurate as an image when it comes to detachment.
Before we go any further on this topic, I hope you have read my post (link) on codependency from where we got here. If not, I strongly suggest you to read about it before you go any further. It’s interesting, and will explain a lot about your day to day behavior and fear.
Now, before we dive into the world of understanding, let’s start with the opposite of ‘Detachment’ which is ‘Attachment’. Attachment sounds lovely, it is mostly used in case of love, and care. However, when it comes to codependency, attachment is becoming overly involved, sometimes hopelessly entangled. According to Melody Beattie (Author of the book ‘Codependent No More’ from which the post is inspired), attachment can take many forms.
- We may become excessively worried about, and preoccupied with, a problem or person (our mental energy is attached).
- Or, we may graduate to becoming obsessed with and controlling the people and problems in our environment (our mental, physical, and emotional energy is directed at the object of our obsession).
- We may become reactionaries, instead of acting authentically of our own volition (our mental, emotional, and physical energy is attached).
- We may become emotionally dependent on the people around us (now we’re really attached).
- We may become caretakers (rescuers, enablers) to the people around us (firmly attaching ourselves to their needs for us).
Does it sound healthy? Do you feel good about it? Even if it does not, we are afraid to let go because it feels safer to remain attached. It is a known zone. It gives the feeling that we are doing something. At least we’ve got something to do if we’re obsessing or controlling!!
However, detachment is all about letting go. It is based on the idea that each person is responsible for himself.
This further means that we can not solve problems that are not ours. And when things are not in our hands, worrying does not help either. Detachment also means that we allow others to take responsibility for their own lives, and we take care of ours. If people have created some disasters for themselves, we allow them to face their own proverbial music.
We allow people to be who they are. We give them the freedom to be responsible and to grow. And we give ourselves the same freedom. The concept also asks us to distinguish between what we can change and what we can’t.
Once we make the distinction, we stop trying to change things we can’t. I mean how can I change the habit of a drinking for an alcoholic if I am not the one who is doing it. We live our own lives to the best of our ability. If we cannot solve a problem and we have done what we could, we learn to live with, or in spite of, that problem. And we try to live happily focusing heroically on what is good in our lives today, and feeling grateful for that.
Attachment is the great fabricator of illusions; reality can be obtained only by someone who is detached. ~ Simone Weil
I know it might sound weird. How can we NOT do something for someone we care about? However, detaching does not mean we don’t care. It means we learn to love, care, and be involved WITHOUT going crazy. We stop creating all this chaos in our minds and environments.
When we are at a better place when it comes to mind, we make good decisions. The mind is now more open to looking for possible solutions. We become free to care and to love in ways that help others and don’t hurt ourselves.
Now, here comes the ‘HOW’ part? How do we detach?
An old AA. and Al-Anon (Alcoholic Anonymous) saying suggests a three-part formula called ”HOW”: Honesty, Openness, and Willingness to try. With a little humility, surrender, and effort on your part, you take a step forward. It does not happen overnight, but slowly we start getting there. One may not do it perfectly, but no one has.
Below are some suggestions from the book to help us detach from people and our destructive reactions to them. These are only suggestions. There is no precise formula for detachment.
- Learn to recognize when you’re reacting, when you are allowing someone or something to yank your strings.
- Make yourself comfortable. When you recognize that you’re in the midst of a chaotic reaction, say or do as little as possible until you can restore your level of serenity and peace.
- Examine what happened. If it’s a minor incident, you may be able to sort through it yourself. If the problem is serious, or is seriously upsetting you, you may want to discuss it with a friend to help clear your thoughts and emotions. Talk about your feelings. Take responsibility for them. Feel whatever feeling you have.
- Figure out what you need to do to take care of yourself. Make your decisions based on reality, and make them from a peaceful state. Do you need to apologize? Do you want to let it go? Do you need to have a heart-to-heart talk with someone? Do you need to make some other decision to take care of yourself?
- Meditate. Here is the secret. Melody Beattie, by the end of the book explains a lot on how meditation can help get rid of codependency. In fact, she has written a meditation script for codependency. So, why to wait, you can start to meditate anytime!
Detachment is not easy. You try it several times, and might fail for every many time. We are so used to control the things around that we don’t realize that control is an illusion. It blocks other person’s growth. It stops things from happening naturally. Many people might say that that ‘you don’t understand my situation. I can’t detach!’ And that’s whey you need to detach more. Melody says that in her case, though she was trying hard to detach, many times she would fail. That’s when somehow she came across the root cause of codependency. That is when she came across Karpman Drama Triangle. This was her pattern. This is the pattern of most of the codependents. I will cover more about this Drama Triangle in the next post.
Meanwhile, take care. And when I say ‘take care’, it involves taking care of yourself instead of taking care of others who might not need it!