Detachment is not that you should own nothing. But that nothing should own you.
– Ali ibn abi Talib
We are social animals. And we are most comfortable when we are in the society, amidst people, especially amidst our loved ones, family and friends. And when we are amidst loved ones, what binds us with them, is attachment, the love we have for them. Love or attachment to the person defines the strength of our relationships. And demonstration of that love or attachment is necessitated, from time to time, for the relationship to prosper.
One observes challenges in bonds and relationships when the communication slows down, weakens and especially when it completely dies down. In some relationships, constant communication becomes a must to demonstrate the faith/trust and love. In many cases, distance leads to change in quality and quantity of communication. It leads to misunderstandings, mistrust, sorrow and misery.
However, at some point of time, its the relationships and the expectations that they bring with it, that makes one weaker, instead of stronger. When one undermines oneself compared to others, underutilising ones abilities. The same people who are supposed to be our strength at time of challenges, can also become source of weakness at the time of happiness. We may not take some bold decisions in life. We may resist options to take challenging assignments at work, as it might disrupt the harmony at home. We may desist making new friends as they may not gel with our spouse, etc.
So what does one do when faced with such a dichotomy? should one break relationships? Of course not. That would be foolish thing to do. The answer lies in detachment. It is the state of inner calmness and poise, and the ability not to let what people say or do agitate you emotionally and disturb your state of mind.
Detachment is an art of enjoying something while always being open to the possibility of losing it someday.
John B. Bejo
When one is detached, one is dispassionate and does not let undue emotions influence ones decisions. One retains sanity to look at larger good of a decision, than just the short term challenge. One can make more holistic choices . People who possess detachment, keep their poise when they run into problems. They accept the good and the bad equally, because their minds are in a state of inner balance and peace. They do not get upset, if their plans do not turn out as expected. They try again, or look for a new approach.
Like all other things, even detachment begins with oneself. Can you detach yourself from your own thoughts? Can you not listen to your body when its crying to give up, and yet you continue working, running, striving towards your goal? Can you not listen to your inner voice and press the pause button on the remote and NOT watch the next episode? Can you stop yourself from reacting in anger when shouted at by someone? Once you have the strength to detach yourself from the inner voice, then detaching from others becomes more of a formality. So if your spouse or parents screams at you, you first listen to your inner voice, which is screaming to respond. Shut the inner voice up. Then not reacting to the spouse or parent, staying calm for those critical 10-15 seconds, will automatically give you the strength for a more calmer and sedate response. Try it. Thanks to @Yash for having given valuable inputs to include this.
Detachment from innate objects and actions:
Detachment is not only about other living beings. Its not how we do not let our emotions get the better of us in dealing with other people. It holds true even with innate objects like a stapler or a car. How to not get wild when the pins in the stapler goes out or when the car fuel meter is near zero when you need to rush to work. These incidents required detachment to the extent of not throwing the stapler in disgust or kicking the car in anger. Realising that neither of the actions will result in the pins and fuel getting ‘refilled’ !! that’s also a form of detachment. Thanks to Hemanya for the valuable inputs that prompted me to edit the article.
Laughing it off:
Humour is a great form of detachment. I am sure we all would know/ have known at least one person who is always smiling, laughing, cracking jokes and always ready for a prank or some mischief. At times, we don’t tend to understand, how come the individual does not see the seriousness in any situation, ever. But in reality, these individuals are ‘evolved’ people. They don’t let the travails of life and the baggage of emotions that it brings, drag them down. They have a Happy First approach to life. We can learn a lot from these people, but in reality, they are downplayed as a tramp and ignored.
Great calm, generous detachment, selfless love, disinterested effort: these are what make for success in life. If you can find peace in yourself and can spread comfort around you, you will be happier than an empress.
Sometimes, we work TOO HARD to make our family members happy. In process, we make a wreak of ourselves, physically, mentally and emotionally. Little do we realise that our happiness paramounts everything else for our family. Your child loves you as much as you love him/her. They might not be the best at expressing. Any day, any child would prefer parent’s happiness over their priciest possession.
The challenges in detachment:
However, with detachment, comes a major challenge. People perceive you as being cold, heartless and in-human. One’s calmness is often misconstrued as coldness. One’s ability to hold back emotions is considered as being emotion-less. Once ability to ‘not react’ is seen as sign of ‘weakness’. However, the key factor that one needs to give importance to is ‘self judgement’. One who is detached, is conscious of his clear inner self and is not so worried about his thicker exterior. He/she is not worried about others perception, as he/she is clear about one’s own reality. The smallest of reality outlives the largest of perception, any day.
Attachment is the great fabricator of illusions; reality can be attained only by someone who is detached.
Detachment of others:
The other major challenge one needs to be prepared for, is detachment of others. For the majority, the our act of detachment will be hard to understand and they will either withdraw themselves from our presence physically, or change their behaviour towards as. However, there would be another set of people, who themselves might be detached or have the ability to get detached. One needs to be conscious and aware of these people. Others have as much a right to be detached from you, as you are from them. So you may as well be subjected to the same sort of disillusionment, that you give to others.
So if all us are detached, will this world be a cold, heartless place to live in. NO! it will help reduce the amount of anxiety, trauma, distress and disillusionment that plagues the world. People will be much better mentally to handle the challenges of life and honestly, will live much longer.
As always, these are just my thoughts and would love have your inputs/thoughts on the topic.
When you become detached mentally from yourself and concentrate on helping other people with their difficulties, you will be able to cope with your own more effectively. Somehow, the act of self-giving is a personal power-releasing factor.
Norman Vincent Peale
pics credit: Jatinder Kaur in Virginia (US).