I found a great quote that explains the concept of detachment perfectly. Strangely enough, I found it on a friend’s professional page on Facebook. (She’s a Realtor.) Normally you don’t expect to find gems like this on a person’s professional page, but there are a few “lights in the harbor” who like to sprinkle a little spiritual wisdom in with their professional posts, for the benefit of their clients.
When I first heard the term “detachment,” I thought it meant that I wasn’t supposed to show any feelings. What I have realized since then is that negative feelings such as anger, fear, jealousy, worry, guilt, or the need for revenge are in some ways stronger or more forceful than the positive feelings. We tend, therefore, to act on them much more quickly. Think about it. When you do or say something immediately to show how angry/fearful/jealous you are, what kind of action is it? What kind of words do you speak? Almost always it’s something that is hurtful to others and to yourself. Usually, it’s something you will regret later.
Detachment is learning to acknowledge the feeling, but to restrain ourselves from acting on that feeling. In other words, I may be angry, but that doesn’t mean I have to go and punch someone’s lights out. I may be fearful, but that doesn’t mean I need to refuse to do something scary. I may be jealous, but that doesn’t mean I should say something unkind about the person I am jealous of, just to bring them down a peg.
It’s hard to detach from negative feelings, but it can be done, over time. We practice on the little things that come up in our daily routine, and it gets easier and easier to acknowledge the feelings without acting on them. When something big comes along, our daily practice will stand us in good stead, and we will be able to step back a bit and strive to respond appropriately or not at all. Some things do require a response from us; it’s just that we have a choice of responses. We can lash out in anger or retreat in fear, or we can take action to solve the problem.
The piece of wisdom that tied it all together for me is expressed beautifully in Marianne Williamson’s words:
“I’ve come to trust not that events will always unfold exactly as I want, but that I will be fine either way. The challenges we face in life are always lessons that serve soul’s growth.”
When I focus on the fact that everything that happens in my life is for my highest good, and that, as Soul, I’m strong enough and wise enough to handle anything that comes along, there seems less of a need to express my anger or fear. Instead, I can step back and ask myself, “What is really going on, here? What am I supposed to learn from this situation? What positive qualities do I need to manifest to get through this situation?” That’s detachment. 🙂