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Detaching Doesn’t Mean You Don’t Care

Detaching Doesn’t Mean You Don’t Care by Ada Hasloecher{3:40 minutes to read} Ahhh – this is a tough one. What does it mean to live in the world and yet detach from it too? I love the concept of detachment, but how does this work in real life?

We human beings are social creatures. We have families, marriages, children, friends, communities, neighbors, political affiliations, work colleagues and so on. Everywhere we turn, we are engaged one way or the other with people of all sorts, stripes, religions, ethnicities, cultures, states of mind and so on. And I would suggest that in all these areas of engagement we are involved because we care, because we love, because we want to make a difference.

So how do we engage with care and love and still be detached? Detachment doesn’t mean you don’t care. What detachment can mean is that you are not invested in the outcome:

What do you mean??? How could I not be interested or invested in the outcome? Why would I be involved if the outcome was not important?

Good question! But what if the outcome didn’t matter to you – only that you participated in the relationship, showed up in your best possible way, contributed with a loving heart and then let it go?

What we human beings tend to do when we get upset with someone or something is try to distance ourselves from them or it. It works for a little while, but then we tend to feel conflicted because it makes us feel that we don’t care. And we don’t want to “not care.” It makes us feel callow, shallow, and insensitive. But of course, when we are upset or hurt, we want to desensitize ourselves to the situation and the way we often do that is to pull away which looks like not caring. Thus begins the endless cycle that includes self-loathing for not caring and anger toward the “other” for putting us in the situation of being perceived as not caring. Oy!

I would suggest that a way to look at detachment is this way: Detachment lets you off the emotional hook. If loving and caring are two sides of the same coin, and love — true love is unconditional and therefore has no attachments, then it’s not far to go to say that one can care with no attachments as well.

When I work with couples in mediation they are generally in a state of flux. What they cared about before is different from what they care about now. Sometimes there is an overlap, a carryover while they make the switch from a world of two to a world of one. How to make sense of it all and not get mired in an internal conflict? Perhaps by practicing detachment, one can allow for the fluidity of change, accept the world as it is right now and let oneself off the emotional hook.

Not easy I know. But worth a try.

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Ada L. Hasloecher

Divorce Mediator / Center Founder
Divorce & Family Mediation Center, LLC
Phone: 631-585-5210
eMail: Info@DFMCLI.com
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One Comment

  1. M. M. Noble January 30, 2018 at 11:14 am

    I really appreciate this article Ada! Practicing non-attachment with compassion is the only thing that is getting me through my divorce (well that, a great support network & YOU). I can still care for my partner, but I have had to let go of emotional investments in the choices that he makes and the outcomes of those choices. I struggle with this and simultaneously try to do this daily. It has helped me let go of worrying about what he is doing, so that I am focused solely on helping our children and myself come through this in tact, and maybe even stronger.

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