Tips on Learning Detachment

In many life and work situations we experience what feels like unjust criticism and/or feelings of fear of doing something wrong. Our reaction is often defensiveness and a sense of being shut out, while our mind goes round and round building its own story of justification. This reaction keeps us in an emotional turmoil and prevents us from learning from our experiences; it prevents us from moving forward on our life journey. So how does one escape from this reactive scene?

We must first decide:

  • To bring quality to all that we do;
  • To become fully conscious in every moment;
  • To extract a learning from every situation we experience.

This is easier said than done! From my own experience, I have found that detachment has worked most of the time. This doesn’t mean becoming cold and uncaring, but it does mean not attaching self-worth to this activity. It means stilling the fear of rejection.

Following are some insights about detachment gleaned from a variety of sources:

  • “One who has attained an inner posture of detachment has a sense of self so complete that external influences have no authority within his or her consciousness.” (Anatomy of Spirit, Caroline Myss)
  • “Pain often accompanies the development of detachment …. because we must go against our self-will, opinions and pleasures.” (The End of Sorrow, Easwaran)
  • “This is yoga; this is spiritual life – being alike in pain and pleasure, victory and defeat, praise and censure.” (Easwaran)
  • Detachment means to disengage from expectations and keeping yourself emotionally separate.
  • Detachment is an emotional tool, a skill to be learned.

rocks on beach

Where does one begin? Here are a few suggestions of some things to try:

  • Set your intention by focusing on the recipient of your action, not yourself.
  • Accept that you can control only yourself and not others. Yet know that you may have influence, so use it wisely.
  • Make “it” smaller. Make it (whatever “it” is) a smaller part of your life by making other parts of your life bigger.
  • Let go. Think about this happening from an objective stance – look at the facts, feelings, meanings and impacts, decide what to do, do it and then let it go. Remember that others’ reactions, fears and beliefs are not yours, but theirs.
  • Know your own needs and set boundaries and standards to take care of them.
  • Handle the difficult stuff. Don’t allow others to draw you in and hurt you. Divert your attention away from yourself. Be a master of yourself

Coaching Questions to Stimulate Reflection About Your Life & Work

  1. What are you attached to right now?
  2. Make a list of your attachments and determine the good and the drawbacks of each.
  3. Decide which you want to detach from, and why.
  4. Commit to letting go.