Detachment never takes away anything beneficial; only the harmful. – Vernon Howard
What is it?
First of all-detachment is not alienation. It is not separating from someone completely. So then, what is detachment? Let’s start with removing your emotional involvement in a relationship. You can have a compatible relationship without being overly emotionally connected. This would obviously not work in a marriage but could work in many other situations. Relationships in which you feel you are smothered or someone is involved in your every decision may be called enmeshed.In these relationships, you do not feel independent. Another person wants you to feel their feelings and they enmesh with your feelings as well. It isn’t healthy.
How do you do it?
A good place to start is by evaluating what is happening in a relationship in which you think you may need to detach. Perhaps you are grown and your relationship with a parent is enmeshed. Boundaries haven’t been respected. Or maybe you have a boyfriend who doesn’t allow you the freedom to enjoy times with your friends. You probably need to detach. But how do you do it?
Guidelines for Detaching
- Do not overreact.
- Take an honest inventory of the relationship. Write a list of situations that bothered you.
- Note the specifics of what happened that involved breaching boundaries. What made you uneasy?
- Once you have completed an extensive list. Sleep on it. Take your time.
- Review the list.
What do you expect will happen when you establish a boundary? You should be prepared for a reaction. I’ve found that people who tend to enmesh don’t like giving another person control. Be compassionate and firm.
Can you detach too much?
The answer is yes. I know because I’ve withdrawn in the name of detachment. It seemed easier and much less confrontational. I’ve learned the hard way. Genuine detachment can be compassionate. When approached gently and without drama, you can defuse the situation. Then you will not be detaching too much.
I am a Certified Professional Coach and I hold a degree from Lamar University in Speech and a Master’s from the University of Texas. I married Sam after raising three children as a single mother. I was an educator in regular and special education for twenty years, finishing my professional career as a Braille teacher. In 2007 I founded SMORE for Women. SMORE is a nonprofit association whose goal is Single Moms, Overjoyed, Rejuvenated, and Empowered. My stories have been published in several Christian books and magazines. My Website.