There is a famous anecdote about the way you catch a monkey in India. You drop a handful of nuts into a jar with a small opening, he explained. The monkey puts his hand into the jar, grabs the nuts, and then finds that he can’t get his fist out through the opening. If the monkey would just let go of the nuts, he could escape. But he won’t.
Moral of the story? Attachment leads to suffering and detachment leads to freedom.
I used to attach my self-worth and feelings to how people treated me, how much my significant other loved me, and to situations- which led to some pretty severe anxiety and constantly feeling hopeless and depressed. Being the type-A perfectionist I am, every time someone hurt me or something didn’t work out the way I had it perfectly planned, it crushed me. After a lot of hurt and disappointment, I decided that I wasn’t going to let anyone or anything manipulate my life and happiness. I alone had the control to wield how I reacted to bad situations and people and realizing this helped me live a life of detachment.
What Is Detachment?
Law of Detachment– In order to acquire anything in the physical universe, you have to relinquish your attachment to it. This doesn’t mean you give up the intention to create your desire. You don’t abandon the intention, and you don’t abandon the desire. You abandon your attachment to the result.
Gandhi once said, “A burning passion mixed with absolute detachment is the key to success.” Attachment says, “I need this to happen to be happy,” and detachment says, “Even if this doesn’t happen, I’ll still be happy.” Detachment allows you to pursue your goals and become invested in your relationships without trying everything you have to the outcome or it working out.
The trick is to real detachment is behaving like an Oscar award-winning actress playing a part: become fully emotionally immersed and recognize that you can step outside of the character and be objective. This ability to acknowledge that you can step outside and reflect—to not attach who you are to any desired outcome—is what real detachment is about.
Detachment, in 5 steps:
Observe your mind
“She was gracefully dancing in the waves, She finally understood how you could be so detached from the world, yet be at one with it.” – N.
Become aware of what kind of thoughts you habitually think. By examining what things, events, or people you identify with the most, you become a student of self and heighten your awareness of where attachment happens more frequently for you. It’s different for everyone and learning your patterns is a useful tool in creating change.
Distinguish between the voice of your ego and the actual situation
“In my life, nothing goes wrong. When things seem to not meet my expectations, I let go of how I think things should be.It’s a matter of not having a fixed attachment to any fixed outcome.” -Deepak Chopra
Your ego might tell you that not getting the job you want has ruined your career. The actual situation is: you are disappointed because you didn’t receive something you never had in the first place. There has been no loss. Nothing has changed except your thoughts about the situation. The actual situation is the same as it was before not getting the job.
“Detachment is the art of enjoying something while being open to the possibility you might lose it someday.” – John B Bejo
Only a willingness to embrace the unknown provides security. By letting go of your attachment to the illusion of security, which is an attachment to the known, you step into the field of all possibilities.
Meditate on it
“Only in the stillness of detachment can the soul yield up her secrets.” – Elsa Barker
Meditation is a vehicle to help your mind release patterns of thought and action that no longer serve you. Spend some time in meditation each day and watch how the patterns in your life begin to change.
Don’t beat yourself up for falling into old habits
“Promise yourself to be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.”
The first step in making change is recognizing what it is you want to change. Instead of getting frustrated or disappointed when you fall back into an old habit, celebrate that you are now noticing when you repeat the pattern of thought or habit. In time, this will allow you to transform your behavior.
If you’re looking for a good read, I would 10/10 recommend Mark Manson’s, “The Subtle Art of Not Gibing a F*ck.”