Emotional Boundaries: Reflections on Detaching With Love

It is normal to develop attachments to the people you care for but taken to extremes you risk losing yourself in the relationship, and that can create problems for everyone.

Do you find yourself constantly trying to fix (or “help”) others, coming up with advice on what they “should” be doing to have a better life?

Maybe you obsess (just a little) about your friend’s (sister, partner, etc.) problems or shortcomings?

Detaching with love is finding a healthy balance between showing respect for the other person and giving you space to nurture your wellbeing.

You can care and remain engaged, and still let the people in your life take responsibility for their choices and actions.

Admittedly, there is a certain amount of confusion about the term detachment because like anything to do with human nature it can suffer extremes.

So, let’s take a moment to clarify the difference between negative and positive detachment.

Negative detachment is most often described as the inability to connect with others on an emotional level, or as the means of coping with anxiety by avoiding certain situations.

This form of detachment is described as “emotional numbing” or dissociation.

Positive detachment simply refers to a level of mental assertiveness that allows you to achieve emotional balance and maintain healthy boundaries.

It is understanding and accepting that caring is not the same as assuming ownership of another’s attitudes and beliefs or following the same path they’ve chosen for themselves.

Detachment is separating your feelings about someone from your feelings about their behavior.

We stop reacting to things they say and do and obsessing and worrying about things.

It doesn’t take away our feelings and concern but channels them in a healthy way. In practice, it’s more compassionate and loving than unhealthy attachment.

Detaching involves four key concepts:

  1. Having appropriate boundaries
  2. Accepting reality
  3. Being in the present, not the past or future
  4. Taking responsibility for our feelings and needs

It will take time, but you have everything within you to develop healthy emotional boundaries and give yourself the space you need to nurture a vibrant and healthy life.

Following is a collection of the most inspiring quotations I could find to give you a fresh perspective on the value of developing positive detachment:

Reflections on the Power of Detaching

Detachment is taking care of yourself and letting others take responsibility for their actions without trying to save or punish them. ~Author Unknown

Detachment is not a lack of love, but a lack of dependency. Not lack of passion, but a lack of attachment to permanency. Not lack of security, but a lack of anxiety in uncertainty. ~Drishti Bablani

It’s not easy to detach from people you’ve had close ties with but sometimes it’s necessary to restore your sanity and peace of mind. ~Author Unknown

Give yourself the space to listen to your own voice and soul. Too many people listen only to the noise of the world and get lost in the crowd. ~marcandangel

I have found that by not giving an opinion to another person’s drama I can detach completely. I am empathetic and compassionate, but I refused to get involved. ~Millie Mestril

You can love someone and not their behavior; it’s called detachment. ~Author Unknown

Detaching doesn’t mean you don’t care. It’s learning to love and be involved without trying to control the outcome or allowing other people’s emotions and problems to overwhelm you. ~Marquita Herald

Detach from the need to have things work out a certain way. Give yourself peace of mind by trusting that no matter what happens, you will find your way and you will be okay.

She who would have peace of mind needs but one thing, detachment. ~Author Unknown

You need space to soul search, recover, think, rest, and just be. Don’t apologize for wanting or taking this space, it’s an important part of what makes you a happy, healthy person. ~Author Unknown

Detaching with love means letting someone be who they are while protecting yourself from their consequences. You can be separate from a thing and still care about it. ~David Levitham

Step back from obsessively worrying about others, telling others what to do, and rescuing. When we detach, we let others be responsible for their own choices and we don’t interfere or try to protect them from any negative consequences that may result. ~Sharon Martin

Detachment is not giving up the things in this world, but being continuously aware that nothing is permanent. ~Aditya Ajmera

Let go of the drama. You can be involved in life and not get caught up in the need for control. Learning to detach stops you from pushing against reality to fulfill your expectations about the way things should be. ~Author Unknown

Detachment doesn’t mean I’m trying less hard. It just means that fears and emotions that used to torment and paralyze me longer have the same power over me. ~Kelly Cultrone

Try not to confuse attachment with love. Attachment is about fear and dependency and has more to do with your own needs than the love of another. Love without attachment is the purest love because it isn’t about what others can give you to fill the empty spaces; it’s about what you can give others because you’re already full. ~Author Unknown

Detaching with love means letting someone be who they are while protecting yourself from the consequences of their behavior. ~Author Unknown

Detachment does not mean non-involvement. You can be deeply involved without being entangled. ~Jaggi Vasudev

Detachment is a deep breath of peace and patience and the ability to listen and be involved without losing yourself.

The Takeaway

You are responsible for your thoughts, feelings, actions, and the consequences of those actions, just as other people are responsible for theirs.

Cheering someone up occasionally or giving him or her more attention is normal and healthy.

In contrast, if you consistently try to change others’ moods or solve their problems, you are assuming the role of a caretaker as though you believe you can manage their lives better than they can.  

No matter how much you love and want to protect them, this is assuming responsibilities that are theirs, not yours.

Detaching starts with the understanding that, ultimately, we’re powerless over others and that no matter how well-intentioned, our efforts to change or advise someone may be unhelpful and possibly detrimental to us, the other person, and the relationship.

Will you be the passenger or driver in your life journey?
About Marquita A. Herald

Marquita Herald

Marquita is an author, resilience coach, and founder of Emotionally Resilient Living. She’s also an unapologetic workaholic who loves red wine, rock n’ roll, road trips (and car dancing!), peanut butter cookies, and (especially) a dog named Lucy.

She’s saddened and frustrated by excuses and cruelty and believes authentic compassion is the most powerful force in the world.

To learn more about Marquita and the mission of Emotionally Resilient Living Start Here.

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