“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
I’m an aisle seat guy when I fly. It’s a necessity with my long legs. On those rare occasions when other passengers aren’t crammed into the same row, I frequently change seats to peer out the window. It offers a unique perspective. From high among the clouds, homes and highways appear toy-like. And our crowded and important cities seem like just a small part of a busy universe.
We can also see our private lives from a different vantage point by practicing detachment. By purposefully letting go of the end result of our actions and learning to watch our own thoughts and behavior impartially, we gain new insight into the diverse choices available to us. The goal of detachment is to be able to interact with the world while also watching ourselves, to be both actor and witness at the same time.
Being overly focused on the outcome of an action actually ties one down, while being detached enough to view the relativity of the situation sets one free and can yield tranquility. Being detached doesn’t mean that one can’t enjoy anything or anyone. It just refers to the fact that clinging very strongly to a person, a thought, a pattern or an emotional habit makes it more challenging to cope with life. We all know the affect of clingy people, right?
How often have you thought: if I don’t get a specific job or have that certain relationship, I’m going to be miserable? Being detached means that if we achieve a certain goal, we will be fine and if for some reason we don’t, we will still be fine. I like a Buddhist saying that describes detachment as, “Not flattered by praise, not hurt by blame.”
Once we detach ourselves from difficulty, we gain a broad perspective and possibilities become even more apparent. Many solutions that we would not have considered when we were emotionally drowning in a problem now appear.
When you are faced with a trying personal problem, consider taking some time to consciously detach yourself. Listening to calming music and taking a long walk are possible detachment rituals. Traveling to another location actually or through a good book or movie are also ways to find a new perspective.
When you let go of your limited view and gain greater objectivity, you open the door to greater intuition and increased serenity. Detaching can be liberating, like the free-flowing clouds just out of reach from 26A.