24: Detachment

The practical demands of physical life require us to concentrate on our duties and obligations. Unless we can stand back to examine what we are doing and where we are heading, we will let immediate demands on our thinking and behavior assume control of our life. By default, we establish a well-rehearsed routine and momentum to follow without much concern for other choices. When we do this, we put ourselves on virtual autopilot, just following our habits into one sequence of activity after another—carrying with us our usual baggage of disappointment, anxiety, or resentment.

If we remain stuck in this mental gear, we will limit our perceptions and thinking. We may go for hours in a state of emotional numbness or annoyance. This type of “deadness” is so common it is often regarded as normal. But it is not normal—only habitual and common. When it happens, we are giving free reign to our worries, disappointments, and grievances. This becomes a steady drip of disappointment, anxiety, hostility, or apathy that bleeds into our subconscious as a form of low grade psychic self-destruction.

A common sign of psychic self-destruction is the constant presence of a background of dark thoughts and moods. While we may barely notice them, they intrude into our stream of thoughts whenever ordinary events do not command our attention. We may not notice how they add to our anxiety or inhibit our joy and confidence. We may recognize them only when we are provoked and these moods become intense and oppressive.

Escaping from our feelings of anger, fear, or discouragement can be difficult. We can try to shove away these moods and memories by an act of will, but they will likely return. We can distract ourself by focusing on outer work or flooding our mind with positive affirmations. However, once we stop doing this, the negative thoughts and feelings are usually still there.

Disconnecting from these disturbing thoughts and attitudes is an essential step in healing psychic self-destruction and reforming the habits that perpetuate it. Detachment is the one skill that will provide the ability to unhook ourself from the emotional tentacles that repeatedly reconnect us to our fears and disappointments. The role of detachment is to shift our state of mind and perspective to a more mature level where we can connect to our confidence, goodwill, courage, and wisdom. These are the qualities that represent our best self. They can lead us to the insights and strengths we need for healing our wounded memories and attitudes.

Detachment lets us step back from the mundane and turn off our autopilot, disengaging from our habitual reactions of boredom, anxiety, and annoyance. Through detachment, we open a figurative door to a better view of ourself and what is happening in and around us. This change enables us to create a mental platform from which to examine our life experience from a more calm and enlightened perspective.

The process of detachment is achieved by reflecting on the fact that we are much more than our experiences and memories. We are creative observers and thinkers who can take charge of how we interpret what happens to us and how we shall respond—not robots programmed to sleepwalk through life. Instead of being limited by our usual habits or beliefs, we have the intelligence to learn from all experiences, grow in our wisdom and virtue, and develop appropriate ways to respond to our life situation.

While we may feel different moods of peace, anger, fear, or sadness, we are never just these moods. We are, potentially, the observer and director of our emotions. We can experience our feelings, direct them, change them, and use them to be grateful and soothing if we choose.

We also practice detachment as we realize we can think of people, places, or events—past, present, or future—yet we are none of these thoughts or memories. We are a creator of thoughts and an interpreter of events. We can direct our thoughts to be helpful and constructive in the world.

Detachment becomes an active skill once we fully appreciate the fact that there is a power and wisdom deep within us that is always greater than our reactions of fear, resentment, sadness, or excitement. We are designed to be creators of ideas, attitudes, and right choices. We can create new beliefs and new uses for them to encourage and express ourself in more mature and healthy ways.

Through this creative process, we can also develop the conviction that we are more than any illness, frustration, or disappointment we might experience. We may have been a victim of great injustice or loss, but we are more than our suffering. We have the power to overcome and heal our hurts and become successful and fulfilled in life. It is the ability to be detached that allows us to break the cycle of our fixed thoughts, attitudes, and habits that entrap us in so many unhealthy attachments to unpleasant memories and the suffering and limitations that accompany them.

The ultimate benefit of detachment is to help us explore the values, principles, and purposes of our best self. The parts of us that are mentally wounded, defeated, or scarred thrive on distrust, fear, resentment, and defeat. Such habit patterns create and keep recreating huge amounts of psychic self-destruction. We may be aware of these tendencies but have difficulty changing them—until we can utilize the detached state to reconnect with our core humanitarian values. From there we can explore healthier choices of attitude to help us thrive in life.

Detachment is a skill that enables us to broaden our understanding of ourself and our world. We build a new paradigm that expands our comprehension of our life and our human nature, enabling us to recognize the richness of our human and divine nature and the complexities of our life. This change in consciousness assists us to be more objective in evaluating and changing our current beliefs and approach to life. This transformation of our views and the ability to respond instead of react can have a profound effect on how we cope with our challenges and shape opportunities. By lifting the veil of our habitual beliefs and attitudes, we can access other choices offering new insights and harmony. For example, once we set aside our habitual anger about past events and the people in them, we might glimpse that they were not as destructive to our well-being as we had assumed.

We might even recognize that an unpleasant series of difficulties caused us to become more self-reliant and stronger—or become aware of how often we compounded our annoyance with our own hostility and stubbornness. Insights such as these open the door to much healing that cannot occur until we rise above old stereotypes of defeat and abuse and memories that cloud our perceptions and judgment.

Detachment liberates our ability to entertain a whole new sense of our humanity which includes our capacity for inspired creativity, discernment, hope, joy, courage, and more. In this way, we unveil the full spectrum of our human and divine potential—and change our hearts and minds to prepare for genuine and enduring healing and growth.

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