I remember a situation from many years ago where a man I met shared that his approach to life was one of detachment. I asked him what he meant by this, and he started getting rather frustrated. He explained that he had chosen not to be emotionally attached to things.
I remember acknowledging him for his commitment to himself, in working towards this, as detachment is quite a process to work on within oneself.
A question kept nagging at my knowing through this conversation and afterwards: “if his approach to life was one of detachment, which is not having an emotional attachment to things, then why was he so emotional?” So I chose to observe my own and others processing in terms of this.
A post I saw recently brought back the memories of this situation. It had a picture that represented detachment, and it was of a person sitting outside a window looking through the window at some roses. The attachment picture showed the person sitting in the room, holding and embracing the roses.
The message attached to the post was awesome. However it prompted my questioning and processing in this area – and I asked myself what did I believe and what have I experienced in relation to attachment and detachment. This is what my processing was.
I reminded myself of how many people and objects I have been attached to in my life. Partners, friends, employers, work colleagues, cars, shoes, clothes, even a coffee cup and it went on.
I have been emotionally needy of certain people, objects and outcomes of situations, in my life. Where I have felt like I could not live without them, I was dependent on them emotionally and if they weren’t in my life, I believed my world would fall apart. And a number of these people and objects did leave my and my internal being fell apart however my world did not. Why did I fall apart? Because I had not learnt to stand on my own emotionally resilient feet.
I was needy of these people, objects and outcomes to make me feel valued, loved, understood, that I belonged, important and most importantly, emotionally safe and secure. I had an emotional attachment to the words and actions of these people, to owning these objects and to the outcomes of situations.
I was making these people, objects and situations responsible for my emotional well being. They were responsible for making me happy. I had made them my emotional parent. And as a result I experienced highs and lows emotionally based on what they did or didn’t do, whether they were there or not and what happened. I took things personally, viewed things through rose tinted glasses or pessimistic ones and I reacted emotionally regularly.
I was committed to healing myself from the impacts of my past and discovering who I truly was, and as part of this process I worked on my emotional neediness. Through this process I grew my ability to be detached from these people, objects and situations and this naturally happened. I identified that I had been projecting my emotional neediness on to others making them responsible for my happiness and they were not responsible for me emotionally. Any neediness filling I did experience was a band-aid quick fix and was not sustainable. There was only one person who could fill and heal my neediness and that was me.
In going through the process of filling and healing my own neediness I was reclaiming responsibility for my emotional well being. I was the one taking action on addressing what was happening for me rather than relying on others to do it. I was parenting myself, making myself happy, healing and nurturing myself. I was becoming self reliant emotionally. Over time I found that I had less emotion, less emotional attachment to these people, objects and the outcomes of situations. I had become more accepting.
I was healing my emotional and mental processing that was attached to things with the outcome being I was detaching myself emotionally from what I was previously attached to.
This highlighted to me, that what I had observed and known about the man from years before, was that he had not healed the emotion, rather he had suppressed it. The process of suppressing emotion does not bring about detachment, it brings about denial of emotional attachment.
True detachment is a process of unraveling conditioning and healing of the impacts from the past, emotionally, mentally, behaviorally, physiologically, energy wise and where relevant spiritually.
As I continued with the processing and filling of my neediness, I identified that with a number of these people, objects and outcomes that I had previously been attached to, I had progressed through the detachment phase (healing the emotion) and was now experiencing no attachment.
I evidenced this in being around these people and not feeling anything emotionally, rather there was a constant state of being of acceptance, which was love. And I was still interacting with them fully, accepting and respecting them, however without any emotion and neediness. Any patterns of the past did not have any impact on me. Words, actions, looks and energies that used to trigger emotion in me, I had no reaction to, or I did not even notice if they happened or not. And boy did I double and triple check to make sure that I was not suppressing.
I felt a lightness, yet groundedness and objectivity that was born out of acceptance. Acceptance of what is.
Acceptance that comes from unraveling and healing the impacts of the past.
So unlike the picture in the post I described earlier, ‘no attachment’ allows you to have exactly the same picture as attachment i.e. in the room holding and embracing the roses, being fully involved and participating, however with acceptance rather than emotional attachment.
The stages and phases from attachment to no attachment is a process and make each step you take OK, because it is your process. And in the end there is acceptance.