The Art of Detachment

As human beings, we all encounter emotionally distressing experiences. It’s a part of the human condition. Life as a human is practically just an endless sequence of various forms of suffering, with a few intermittent breaks in between.

When we find ourselves in these emotionally distressing experiences, it usually affects us very deeply. Sometimes, these experiences can fundamentally change who we are as people. It’s wise to learn from your experiences and extract as much information as you can from your moments of suffering, but often times we get so lost in the pain of being human that it consumes us.

Enter, the art of detachment.

By definition, detachment means “to be objective or aloof”. In essence, it is to exist as a separate entity from another. In this context, aloof does not mean that you are not connected or involved in your own emotions, it simply means that you are not attached to any particular outcome.

We can use detachment as a tool to allow us to observe our emotionally painful or distressing situations, and to see the experience as just that; an experience. Something that happens externally, that we can choose to observe without internalizing the experience. We are not our experiences; they are things that happen around us, not to us.

The art of detachment is something that is practiced in Buddhism, where it is regarded as one of the keys to inner peace. Through mindfulness and practice, you can learn to separate yourself from the emotions that we as humans are subject to experiencing, whether that be envy, impulse, resentment, etc. Without invalidating our own human experience, we can learn to see our experiences from a perspective of objectivity.

One of the skills that you need to acquire before you’re able to truly practice detachment is the act of acceptance. Being able to embrace discomfort, uncertainty and other undesirable sensations without trying to alter the situation is key; you must learn to accept experiences as they happen, even if they’re not as you think they’re meant to be.

Much of our attachment comes as a result of our own ego. We can be attached to particular people, careers, or anything that includes an expectation of outcome. Learning to embrace these sorts of things exactly as they are, rather than personally identifying them as being a part of ourselves, relieves us of the sensation of loss if anything doesn’t meet expectations.

Detachment is the art of letting things go.

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