Emotional Detachment


Really end of the day we have to choose between truth and happiness. There is no inbetween…. if your fortunate both of them would be same but that rarely happens. What tilts us towards happiness and blinds us from the most obvious….. Its emotional attachment… Only through emotional detachment can we really understand the world better…. Of course, I don’t want anyone to confuse emotional detachment with being willfully cold and unpleasant to people…. This has been a common misconception among people so this post is gonna try to explain.

Emotional detachment, in psychology, can mean two different things. In the first meaning, it refers to an inability to connect with others emotionally, as well as a means of dealing with anxiety by preventing certain situations that trigger it. In the second sense, it is a type of mental assertiveness that allows people to maintain their boundaries and psychic integrity when faced with the emotional demands of another person or group of persons.

What I am talking about is the second type:

This type can be described  as a positive and deliberate mental attitude which avoids engaging the emotions of others. It is often applied to relatives and associates of people who are in some way emotionally overly demanding. A simple example might be a person who trains himself to ignore the “pleading” food requests of a dieting spouse. It is not to be confused with being wilfully cold or unpleasant, because it is a positive mental attitude. Therefore, these individuals do not have unemotional personality as most assume and are not really totally closed off to emotions. Rather, they have trained their minds to be able to switch on and off their emotions as and when needed i.e. one is in control of his/her emotions and not vice versa.

This detachment does not mean avoiding the feeling of empathy; it is actually more of an awareness of empathetic feelings that allows the person space needed to rationally choose whether or not to manipulate or be overwhelmed by such feelings.

Ok fine…… You may ask ‘How do I really achieve this?’. I have three simple principles that I adopt from the teachings of Buddhism, which has really worked for me:

Recognition: A basic principle is that you cannot experience freedom and spaciousness unless you recognize what is happening. The more you learn to recognize the range of your emotions, including the most subtle, the more you will become familiar and comfortable with them, and the less you will be in their thrall.

Something I do is naming these emotions….. A steady and relaxed labeling of the emotion of the moment, e.g., “joy,” “anger,” “frustration,” “happiness”, “boredom,” “contentment”, “desire,” and the like, encourages us to stay present with what is central in our experience. Naming can also help us become calm and less entangled with the emotion, less identified with it or reactive to its presence.

Acceptance: This does not mean condoning or justifying certain feelings. It means simply allowing emotions to be present, whatever they may be. Many people frequently judge and censure their feelings. One must practice unconditional acceptance of our emotions. This does not mean expressing emotion, but letting emotions move through you without any inhibitions, resistance, or encouragement.

Investigation: This entails dropping any fixed ideas we have about an emotion and looking at it afresh. Emotions are composite events, made up of bodily sensations, thoughts, feelings, motivations, and attitudes. Investigation is not analysis, but more a sensory awareness exercise of feeling our way into the present moment experience of the emotions. It is particularly useful to investigate the bodily sensations of an emotion, letting the body be the container for the emotion,. In a sense, the body is a bigger container than the thinking mind which is easily exhausted, and which tends to spin off into stories, analysis, and attempts to fix the situation – away from acceptance of the present moment experience.

Trust me…. emotional detachment provides one with a perspective of life that a majority of humans could never comprehend.

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