Return To Self: The Art of Detachment

Photo by Eric Ward on Unsplash

Detachment is a word that often carries negative connotations. Most people associate it with aloofness, indifference and generally a state of not caring. One of the most basic definitions refers to it as the state of being disengaged or separated from something.

Where emotions are concerned, we tend to get overly attached and invested in our feelings to the point where the emotions supersede whatever occurrence created them in the first place. Don’t get me wrong, emotions are necessary; but when they start to spin out of your control then it doesn’t feel so great.

This is where the subtle art of emotional detachment comes in. Detachment is simply learning how to deal with your emotions in an objective, unattached and non-personal way.

The first step of detachment is accepting that every single person is responsible for his/her feelings. In my previous posts, I talked about how we are only responsible for ourselves. We cannot control how other people will react, or even change them. When you consider this, you start to realize that you have been carrying around a whole load of emotions related to other people which is rather pointless.

Whatever you feel about what other people are doing or saying is a colossal waste of time. Don’t fool yourself that you can change another person; people only change because they want to and not because your feelings made them change.

Also, no one will stop you from indulging these unnecessary feelings, but they take valuable time away from the feelings that really matter – what you really feel in relation to yourself.

The next step of detachment is learning how to separate an occurrence from the emotional reaction it elicits. The reason this separation is critical is because while the occurrence is possibly out of your control, every aspect of your emotional reaction to it is totally within your control and hence very adaptable.

Did you know that it is you who assigns meaning to any event based on how you react to it, ergo, your emotional reaction to the event? And did you know that you can shift the meaning of any event by simply changing your feelings about it? This applies even to past events.

The hardest part for me was to detach from other people’s opinions and feelings and rely on my own emotions to guide me. I was accustomed to being in everyone’s business while allowing people to run amok in my own. I didn’t trust my own feelings in any situation and constantly turned to external validation as a check against myself. I invested heavily in outcomes of situations that I had little or zero control over resulting in constant frustrations when things did not go my way.

So this is where the rubber meets the road. It’s time to ask yourself, how do you deal with your emotions? Do you constantly feel besieged by everything that you are feeling to the point of insanity? Do you feel like your emotions are spinning your world out of control?

If this sounds like you, then it’s time to practice some detachment.

You’ve already put some work into getting to know yourself, taking time with yourself; now it’s time to trust whatever you believe or feel about yourself. Start by detaching from other people’s opinions of you or whatever it is that you are doing. Trust your own feeling. Validate yourself. After all, you cannot make everyone happy, so why not just focus on making yourself happy.

While you’re at it, understand that your role in other people’s stories is that of a spectator. Live your life, and let others live their lives as well. I used to give advice a lot, literally tell people what to do; I don’t do that anymore. Listening is fine, but you’re not the expert on anyone else. Refraining from telling people what to do actually empowers them to figure it out themselves. And even if they don’t, it’s still not your problem.

One of my most liberating experience was detaching from outcomes. We spend a lot of time fretting and worrying about what might happen, which is something we don’t always have control over. I now focus on the present, what is before me right now. I understand my role clearly, and I know when my part ends and it’s time to let go. That way I remain very open minded about the eventual outcome.

Detachment tends to be viewed from a negative perspective but the truth is its benefits are enormous for your peace of mind.

Ultimately, the benefits of detachment are enormous especially to your peace of mind and the simple fact that it frees you up to focus your precious energy on the things that really matter to you.


If you would like to find out more about how a life coach can help you with this process, simply email me on and I will be happy to walk this journey with you.


(Missed the previous post? Read it HERE.)

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