Lately the subject of ‘detachment’ keeps coming up with my clients, so I thought about it and decided to write this article. Most see detachment as a negative when it is quite the opposite. We do not detach from people, places, and things to cause harm, we detach to take care of our mental and emotional health and empower those we are detaching from.
To me, detaching means stepping back from obsessively worrying about others, telling others what to do, and rescuing them from the consequences of their choices. When we detach, we let others be responsible for their own choices and we don’t interfere or try to protect them from any negative consequences that may result. We listen, may even give some suggestions, but we do not interfere with their process.
Detaching gives us the emotional space we need, so we’re not as reactive and anxious, which allows us to be proactive. It helps us be less controlling and accept things as they are — rather than trying to force them to be what we want or what we think is best.
You need to detach when you are so wrapped up in other people’s pain and problems that its negatively impacting your physical or emotional health or feel like you can’t live your life because you have to be responsible for another (not pertaining to young children or loved ones with health issues), and so forth. You need to detach when you seem to care more about another person’s wellbeing than they do.
An example of this and I am seeing this more and more, an adult child moves back with their parents and the parents or parent (seeing this mostly with mothers) feel the adult child is struggling the parent, thinking they are helping out may start supporting them financially and enabling them by doing their laundry, paying their bills, cooking for them, allowing them to live there for free without any responsibility.
This is one of the most harmful things we can do to ‘adult’ children. By doing this you are teaching them to be co-dependent and that it’s ok not to take responsibility for their feelings, thoughts, and actions. It is also giving them the message that they are not capable beings.
When you accept that you can’t save your loved one, the best thing to do is take care of yourself and that’s what detaching does; it allows you to take a step back, regain your emotional equilibrium so you can be the best, healthiest version of yourself.
Detaching doesn’t mean abandoning or that we stop caring. In fact, we have to detach because we care so much, and need to be needed, that it hurts us to stay so closely entwined in someone else’s life and problems.
In Alanon we learn that "Detachment is neither kind nor unkind. It does not imply judgment or condemnation of the person or situation from which we are detaching. It is simply a means that allows us to separate ourselves from the adverse effects that another person's addiction can have upon our lives.” It allows you to lead your life and not be sucked into their dysfunction. This is true for everyone, not just addicts.
If we put the focus on detaching, we will no longer be in the position to:
Allow ourselves, children, or pets to suffer because of the hurtful actions of another.
Allow ourselves to be used or abused by anyone else.
Do for others what they should do for themselves.
See ourselves as a victim waiting to be rescued.
Cover up for their misdeeds and make excuses for their behavior.
Prevent a crisis if it is the natural course of events.
To rob others of their life lessons.
When we do not detach, we start wanting to “rescue” and “save” people we love. However, that usually leads to us enabling unhealthy behaviors. Detaching helps us to empower those we love.
So, what or whom do you need to detach from that you have been afraid to let go of? It can be a person, a behavior, a place, and even things. Hoarders have trouble detaching from things.
May we all find the courage to detach with love so we can empower ourselves and the people we care most about. When friends and family ask me for something like money the question, I always ask myself is “if I give them this money am I enabling or empowering?” If I feel I am enabling my answer is no.
My hope for everyone is that you can find the love inside of you detach!
Intuitive Energy Healer/Psychic and Spiritual Medium