Detach With Love

Detaching with love is an idea that is introduced in codependency recovery groups.  It means caring enough about others to allow them to learn from their mistakes. It also means being responsible for our own welfare and making decisions without ulterior motives or the desire to control others.

During this time of pandemic/quarantine, I have found that detaching with love is more necessary than ever.  Experiencing the challenges our loved-ones are facing daily, is a trigger for most of us to go in and fix the problem.  The fear and anxiety we feel is real can sometimes overwhelm us.  It is hard to remain detached when we see the obstacles our loved ones need to overcome.  I think it is important to recognize the importance of the “with love” part of this statement.  It is by detaching that we are expressing unselfish true love for others.  

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Detachment is not indifference. it is the prerequisite for effective involvement. Often what we think is best for others is distorted by our attachments to our opinions. We want others to be happy in the way we think they should be happy. It is only when we want nothing for ourselves that we are able to see clearly into others needs and understand how to serve them.

Mahatma Gandhi

We can be compassionate and offer a listening ear, but we do not need to come up with any solutions to their problems.  We should not take responsibility for the other person’s behaviors.  We need to let them experience the natural consequences of their actions (or inaction).  It is in allowing this, that we are allowing the other person to grow and learn.  

 Some questions we can ask ourselves regarding our own behaviors:

  • Is this good for me? 
  • Can I live with the outcome of my decision? 
  • What are my motives? 
  • What are my choices? 
  • Is this a wise choice?

Before jumping in and offering advice or help, stop and think.  Listen carefully to what the other person is saying.  Are they asking for help or just needing a sounding-board?  Stand in front of a mirror and practice what you will say the next time you are faced with these challenges.

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Some good responses to make part of your repertoire:

  • Let me think about that.
  • I’ll get back to you.
  • You may be right.
  • I don’t know, you need to ask him/her.
  • It sounds like you are upset/angry/sad/confused.

Your heart must become a sea of love. 

Your mind must become a river of detachment.

Sri Chinmoy

Detaching isn’t cruel. Often, it’s what allows us to continue to have a relationship with someone. If you don’t detach, your relationship will suffer because of your controlling and interfering.  You may end up resentful, guilt-ridden, or frustrated. Your emotional health and sense of self will certainly suffer.  

Deepak Chopra’s Law of Detachment includes this pledge:  “I will allow myself and those around me the freedom to be as they are. I will not rigidly impose my idea of how things should be. I will not force solutions on problems, thereby creating new problems.”

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Remember, be gentle with yourself.  Baby steps is always the best way to implement any change in your life or relationships.  Taking care of yourself isn’t selfish. Being the healthiest, happiest version of yourself is best for everyone!

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