(By Esther Neptune on keen.com)
Valentine’s season is right around the corner! Every year, I listen to friends describe the hopes, dreams and expectations they have for this wonderful month of love. But what happens if those expectations are unmet? How do you deal with the negative emotions that result?
Learning how to detach from your emotions, and look at them under the microscope, can help maintain your love for self in the wake of disappointment. This can apply to situations outside of our love lives as well.
What is Detachment?
The Oxford Dictionary defines detachment as “a state of being objective or aloof.” Objectivity calls us to think outside the box of emotions and consider life as it is, rather than how we would want it to be. Aloofness is a state of tuning out emotionally and is more avoidant than objectivity.
When is Attachment Unhealthy?
We are all attached to people, places, goals, ambitions and statuses in our lives. To some degree, this is normal and healthy. It becomes unhealthy when potential loss creates negative emotions that interfere with our daily lives.
For example, let’s say you went out on a date and got to know a very interesting person. You exchange thoughtful conversation and have a great deal in common. You haven’t felt this connected to anyone in years!
After the date, you don’t hear from the person for three days. You are frantic, anxious, and obsessed with when you may hear from him next. Relief hits when you hear back. However, the cycle has potential to start over again if those fears aren’t addressed.
How Do I Know if I’m Too Attached?
Let’s start first by examining what happens in normal attachments. When you care about someone, it’s healthy to wonder from time to time how they are doing. It is also healthy to send out intentions to the Universe on their behalf for their well-being.
Excessive attachment is when a person, status, or goal becomes your entire reason for being. These issues may be rooted in childhood. For example, a young lady struggling to win approval in her career as an adult have been chided by her parents for not bringing home a report card with straight A’s. Feeling the failure of this disappointment, she continues to beat up on herself, which further depletes her energy.
How Do I Practice Detachment?
- Take Inventory
The first step is to do an inventory of people, places, and things in one’s life that may have become all-consuming. Try to be as candid and honest with yourself as possible while making this list. Remember that you can’t change what you don’t bring to light with yourself.
- Analyze Your Attachment Patterns
After taking inventory, analyze the patterns of who and what you attach most to. Are the people in your life that you gravitate towards those you can “rescue” or “save?” Or are you repeatedly drawn to emotionally unavailable people? Are the jobs, goals and careers you pursue either too easy or too difficult?
- Ground Yourself
Develop a relationship with a Higher Power of your own understanding. This can go outside the boundaries of religious tradition. When a person makes this decision, it lessens the degree of unhealthy attachment.
- Be Inspired by Everyday Life
Take a walk. Go shopping. Go out to eat and mingle with the wait staff. The bottom line is to make sure you’re doing something daily that breaks the mold of your routine. Choose to incorporate activities that don’t hinge on expectations of anyone else. Embrace the uncertainty rather than hold onto the “certain,” because life is never certain!
- Practice Daily Self-Love Rituals
Remember that if you choose to love yourself first, healthy attachments with others will naturally follow. Choose to do one loving, positive thing for yourself daily. Get a massage, take an Epsom salt bath, exercise, eat well!