Why Detachment is a Good Thing


Remember last July, when the driver of a truck deliberately plowed into a crowd of people in France, killing more than 70?

News and social media rightly reported the incident as terrorism. I wrote in my journal about feeling immense sadness mixed with detachment. I also wrote that I felt a little guilty about the detachment part.

Since last year, these events have become all too common; in fact, one day recently, drivers mowed down innocent people in both London AND France.

Don’t feel guilty for protecting your feelings

Detachment is not a bad thing. In fact, it’s healthy. Sometimes your heart needs a break; it needs to be soft without getting pulled into trauma.

There are times when you just need to breathe and detachment allows you to center, to breathe and to focus on love.

I’m learning to slow down and lessen the judgment on myself. But I have to tell you that focusing on love doesn’t seem like enough when whack-jobs are terrorizing people.

Pema Chodron says patience is the antidote for aggression.

Does anybody else cringe at those words because they’re just a smidge too namby-pamby?

Here’s my challenge, maybe yours too.

I want to strive for higher consciousness every day. I want to help right the wrongs of the world. Can I do that when I’m detached?

Yes, I think we have to strike a balance between detachment, which is a form of self-protection, and stretching for answers that only come as a result of a connection with your higher power.

Detachment forms a barrier to the shock of each situation. The unfortunate truth is terrorist attacks will continue to happen.

How do we live peacefully when so much hatred and violence swirl around us?

I don’t pretend to know the answer to such high-level questions but I do know what keeps me from whirling off into morbid thinking.

I go inward. I dig deep. I make sure there is time in my time to sit quietly with my God. I pray for those affected and for their families. I pray that people in powerful positions find solutions that don’t include more violence and fear.

Sometimes it feels like I’m praying to the wind–and I suppose I am–but we each have to take care of our own emotions and reactions to the world’s transgressions.

We do the best we can. I let the mind of God, as The Daily Word calls it, enlighten me.

“When I become aware of the anxious or vulnerable feelings that accompany uncertainty, I pause. Even a brief pause helps reset my mind and opens it to greater possibilities.

“When the mental whirlwind has settled, my whole being is quiet and my mind is open to receive. In the mental space that I have cleared, Spirit’s guidance comes through.”

The mental space that I have cleared. Only I am responsible for how I approach each day. Detachment helps me see that events and circumstances don’t happen to me; I always have choices, even if those choices are simply how to respond.

Which brings me to the Bible verse included with the The Daily Word reading–it’s one of my favorites:

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God.” ~Romans 12:2~

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  1. Lisa Colgin says:

    Love the scripture you chose. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  2. Galen Pearl says:

    Yay, your comment function works again!! This is an ongoing question, isn’t it, about how to respond to the constant violence in the world around us. Buddhism advocates detachment, and at the same time teaches us to open our hearts with compassion for all the suffering in the world. Perhaps, as you say, detachment frees us from our own suffering which allows us to channel more healing energy to those around us.

    In addition to your on point message from Daily Word, we can also think about A Course in Miracles. ACIM doesn’t teach detachment using that term but teaches the same concept, I think.

    • Beth says:

      Hi there, Galen! I’m so glad you kept trying to leave comments–and more glad that you persistently told me the comments weren’t working! I’m so grateful to be back!

      Thanks for the reminder about ACIM and its teaching around letting go (my broad phrase for detachment). Now that you have me thinking about different sources, I’ll refer my go-to 12-step literature. There’s a Rule 62 (don’t ask me how that number came into being because as far as I know there are not 61 previous rules; in fact, there are no real rules at all!) which “suggests” that we not take ourselves too damn seriously.

      How’s that for letting go? When I think of not taking things too seriously, laughter is on the other side of the door. And laughter, as we all know, can be the best medicine for that which ails us.

      Coincidentally, laughter is today’s Daily Word!

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