DISCOVERING THE FINE ART OF DETACHMENT

I'm learning to re-define the word detachment - focusing on self-care and boundaries

RE-DEFINING DETACHMENT 

I grew up thinking that being detached was isolating and showed you didn't care about other people and their problems. I'm not sure where I got that idea from, but it was firmly entrenched in my understanding of how relationships worked.

I thought it was rude to be detached and that it meant you didn't have compassion for others. But now I've learned that detachment can be a good thing, a healthy choice, and often the means of preserving my sanity when it comes to interacting with difficult people.

A NEW WAY OF LOOKING AT DETACHMENT

I read a definition of what healthy detachment was from The Virtues Project and really liked how they outlined the concept. It was a totally different take on how I'd always understood it to be and I've decided that I like this definition much better.

It focuses on self-care and not getting embroiled in things that aren't our responsibility. It really comes back to healthy boundaries and knowing how much of ourselves to invest in others, and how much to keep separate to maintain our own mental and spiritual wellbeing. But also keeping in mind that we are responsible for making good choices and living in a way that shows grace to ourselves and to others.

THE DEFINITION OF DETACHMENT

Detachment is experiencing our feelings without allowing them to control us. 

We step back and look at things objectively. 

We let go and accept what we cannot change. 

We detach from others’ choices, knowing that their spiritual work is not ours to do. 

We choose how we will act rather than just reacting. 

We step away from harmful cravings.

We can listen without losing ourselves.

We see our mistakes honestly, make amends and start afresh. 

Detachment allows us to be in the world but not of it. 

It frees us to lead our lives with grace.”


I'm learning to re-define the word detachment - focusing on self-care and boundaries

WHAT ABOUT YOU?

Does the concept of having boundaries and being responsible for your own actions (not the actions of others) resonate with you? I think it's about being more intentional - not living in a reactive state, and it's about giving grace to others and to ourselves. I really like that idea - now I just need to remember to put it into practice!

I'm learning to re-define the word detachment - focusing on self-care and boundaries
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39 comments

  1. You're right, detachment is not always a bad thing ... it can be very useful and is a key component of mindfulness.

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    1. It's something I never really had a handle on Janet - I'm going to put some more thought and effort into it this year.

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  2. I'm totally shocking with boundaries...in fact I think I might be the opposite of all of those detachment definitions. Repeat after me : let it go, Jo...let it go... #TeamLovinLife

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    1. I'm the same Jo - I really need to do some work in this area - for my own mental health if for nothing else!

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  3. Wow!! I love reading this perspective, Leann. It would have served me well to know this 20 years ago. I used to care so much about my patient's teeth---more than they did. Yet how silly is that??
    XOXO
    Jodie
    www.jtouchofstyle.com

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    1. I spent my entire dental career caring about people's oral hygiene more than they did Jodie - even now I can't get past seeing someone who isn't looking after themselves - at least I don't have to clean up the mess anymore!

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  4. Yes I'm not good with boundaries but I do love the concept of taking a step back and not being involved in everyone else's problems. I think the focus of self-care is so important Leanne, yet most of the time we put ourselves last. Very insightful reading and thank you. x

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    1. I think this is where I've come unstuck at work Sue - trying to step back without hurting someone but ultimately we have to let others own their choices and not try to fix everyone and everything - I'll be working on this big time in 2018!

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  5. Oh yes - this does resonate with me Leanne. I am learning the art of detachment as a means of self care and to preserve my sanity. SOme people are just not good for me. At this stage of my life I have decided that I have a right to choose who I spend my time with and I choose to spend my time with people that make me feel good and I choose to detach myself quite a bit from those that do not make me feel good. Some of these people are a part of my life and there's not much I can do about that but I can restrict the time spent with them etc and that is what I'm doing. Might sound a bit mean but if I don't look after me then who will and if I'm happier then those close to me are happier. You always blog about such interesting topics Leanne! xo #TeamLovinLife

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    1. I'm going down the same path Min - it's finding healthy boundaries - and maybe even building a few walls that need to be put into place. Some people are completely incapable of keeping their messy lives in check and I am getting so weary of having it poured out all over me. I will be working really hard on this one!

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  6. I would love to learn the art of detachment. I get far too embroiled in situations and with other people's dramas. I am slowly learning to detach myself from certain people and/or situations, but it is still work in progress. #TeamLovinLife

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    1. Me too Kathy - I think we tie it in with caring about people and compassion, but there is a point where we need to care for ourselves and our own mental and emotional health - a bit of detachment at the right time and place is essential.

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  7. Oh yes, Leanne, this post truly resonates with me. I have spent my life serving others and often wear myself out and why? I think I'm helping them, and sometimes I may be. But I had to learn things for myself, and there are times they need to as well. By spoon-feeding people we are not doing them a favour! Thankful Thursday Week 2 Link-up.

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    1. I think we are all from the same generation of putting others first Shirley. Now we're older I think we can see that we're not doing ourselves any favours in the process - time for a little bit of self-care :)

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  8. I feel that I've only started realizing that it's even possible. I've always jumped right in to help often to my own detriment, but it's just not sustainable. I've learned the hard way that detaching is sometimes a necessity to sanity.

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    1. I think sometimes we help because we think we can fix someone and maybe they really need to see that they need to fix themselves Rena - all we do is bang our heads on a wall otherwise!

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  9. It IS a fine art. I've been working on it but it's a challenge
    Carol
    AHealingSpirit

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    1. You're right Carol (as always) and I'm still working on it too :)

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  10. This is a really interesting article. I often struggle with "emotional vampires" and get caught up in others negative emotions. I need to detach from these so I am going to try and put a bit of this into practice.

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    1. I'm the same Emma - those vampires who suck the joy right out of you are the biggest time and energy wasters aren't they. They take up so much emotional energy and yet never seem to improve.

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  11. Stepping back and pausing before reacting. Much needed advice. Found you on Bloggers Pit Stop Link Party.

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    1. Thanks for popping by and you're right - that pause can make all the difference!

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  12. Leanne, absolutely right. Wish I'd learned the art of detachment earlier in life.

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    1. Me too Jean! I'd love to have been more confident in putting boundaries in place - especially in regard to difficult people.

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  13. It takes a long time (at least for me) to understand this detachment, yet it's the key to finding our way. Taking a pause before acting on feelings is so much better than reacting to negative drama. Detachment, along with communication and boundaries, is a life saver. The flip side of detachment is you're perceived as aloof and cold, or that you don't love or care.
    www.meinthemiddlewrites.com

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    1. Detachment is a word that has a lot of connotations to it hasn't it Mary Lou? I think I'd always seen it as cold and aloof, but I'm learning that it can mean healthy boundaries and not being drawn into unnecessay drama - and I really like that concept!

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  14. This definition of detachment resonates with me. I am still learning the practice, but have made great strides this past year, and it has greatly improved the quality of my life, and I believe, my relationships with others. Thanks for sharing this, Leanne.

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    1. I think we're on the same path of discovering ideas that help us to find our own centre and to know who and what is important to us Christie. It's quite empowering isn't it?

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  15. Hi, Leanne - Thank you for another very thought-provoking post. I love the way that your blog introduces new ideas and makes us think!

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    1. I think I'm always looking for new ways to approach areas that I struggle with Donna - I figure if an idea appeals to me, then it will probably appeal to others too x

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  16. Very thought provoking post. Love it. #teamlovinlife

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    1. Thanks Leanne - my brain is always churning away with new ideas and theories these days!

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  17. It's a practice. Not always a perfect practice, but one I continue to work at.

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    1. Me too Jennifer - but isn't it good to be working on something and progressing, rather than repeating the same old stuff over and over again?

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  18. I really like this. It is a different view on detachment but I am all for anything that makes people concentrate more on self care.

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    1. Me too Elise - I am becoming a big fan of having boundaries and giving myself priority - I don't need to fix everybody - especially if it comes at too great a cost to my own health.

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  19. Great topic, Leann! I had to learn to function with a certain level of detachment or professional objectivity in my work life. It was not always easy to care about people without jumping into over-involvement in their lives.

    I had a colleague who really struggled with maintaining a degree of attachment. She was warm and caring, and would get so upset about other people’s troubles and try to solve them. Then she would end up feeling feeling hurt that they didn’t appreciate it. She had a phrase that she used to use to remind herself to not jump in to do other’s spiritual work for them. It was “don’t pick up the monkey.” It means, don’t take on problems that are not your to deal with.

    Jude

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  20. Leanne, sorry for the typo misspelling your name.

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  21. Sorry, typos all through my comment. I meant to say detachment, not attachment

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