Detachment

Detachment

Hey people!

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.

FAITH.

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!

Xoxo,

Ankita

Codependency

Codependency

Hello guys,

A couple of months ago, I had an argument with my younger brother. He said, I am interfering too much into his life. I was hurt. Mainly because I thought that I was caring for him. And how did that caring look like?

I would call him every day to remind him to meditate.
I would ping him every odd hour asking if he booked the date for a certain exam I wanted him to take?
I would call him during his office hours to remind him to go to the gym.
I would force him to do fasting for his health.

 

Did you spot a codependent? Yes, that’s me!

I learned about it a couple of days ago when I read the book ‘Codependent No More‘ by Melody Beattie.
And it was a sort of an awakening. You see, we are so used to such behavior that we hardly consider it to be a problem. We want to control the lives of other people, especially the ones we love thinking that we know the best. For them too.
And in the process we become hostile, controlling, manipulative, indirect, guilt-producing, difficult to communicate with, generally disagreeable, sometimes downright hateful too.
I mean I can see how I would poke my brother after the regular intervals and would try to manipulate him to take the exam ‘I’ felt was right for him. Now let’s try to find the definition of codependent before we go any further. It is given by Melody Beattie.
A codependent person is one who has let another person’s behavior affect him or her, and who is obsessed with controlling that person’s behavior.
The ‘other’ person might be a child, an adult, a lover, a spouse, a brother, a sister, a grandparent, a parent, a client, or a best friend. In my case, the ‘other’ person is my brother. He or she could be an alcoholic too or a drug addict, a mentally or physically ill person, a normal person who occasionally has sad feelings, or one of the people mentioned earlier. If you see the above definition, ‘Alcoholic’ word came into picture.

Because alcoholism created a need to find a terminology who would define those people who lived with these alcoholics, and were greatly affected by their partner/kid’s drinking habit.  In an effort to ‘help’ the alcoholic, they would manipulate, or control him with all efforts in vain. And this would make them angry, exhausted, and emptied of everything.  However, with time it was found that Alcoholism (or chemical dependency) is not the only family problem that can create a codependent person.

Here is the example from the book,

Alissa, the mother of two teenagers, went to counseling because her oldest child, a fourteen-year-old boy, was constantly causing problems. He ran away, broke curfew, skipped school, disobeyed other family rules, and generally did whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted.

“This child,” Alissa told the counselor, “is driving me crazy.”

She meant it. She was worried sick. Some days she was so depressed and troubled she couldn’t get out of bed. She’d placed him in treatment three times, put him in two different foster homes, and dragged the whole family from counselor to counselor. She had threatened, cried, hollered, and begged. She had gotten tough and called the police on him. She had tried gentleness and forgiveness.

She even tried acting like he hadn’t done the inappropriate things he had done. She had locked him out. And she had traveled halfway across the state to bring him home after he ran away. Although her efforts hadn’t helped her child, Alissa was obsessed with finding and doing the one thing that would “make him see the errors of his ways” and help him change.

“Why,” she asked the counselor, “is he doing this to me? He’s running and ruining my life!” The counselor agreed the problem with Alissa’s son was painful, upsetting, and required action.

But the counselor also said the problem didn’t have to run and ruin Alissa’s life. “You haven’t been able to control your son, but you can gain control of yourself, he said. You can deal with your own codependency.”

And that’s what we have to do. We have to learn to deal with our own codependency.  Please note that codependency does not have to be dramatic always.

For example, in a marriage, if you take responsibility of your partner’s happiness, you are codependent. Or if you are child/teenager, and you feel too burdened to make your parents happy by making choices according to their wish, you are a codependent. This is pretty common in Indian families where we make career choices, marriage choices just because we want our parents to be happy. Can you relate to this?

It’s natural to protect and help people we love. It’s also natural to react. However, is it always ‘REACT’? For most of the codependents, it’s overreact or underreact. And the problem is that it progresses like a disease.

Does it make us bad person?? No! It’s something we learnt in childhood, from the environment and can be unlearned too.  We can learn healthier behavior. We can learn how to care without being obsessed.

So, what is the solution of this problem?

Detachment. That’s what the author says!

We cannot begin to work on ourselves, to live our own lives, feel our own feelings, and solve our own problems until we have detached from the object of our obsession. Now, how and what of  detachment is something we will talk in the next post.
Maybe you can share your experience with codependency in the comment section!

Edit: Here is the updated post on Detachment. (Link)

Love and healing on your way..

Ankita