Skip to main content

Verified by Psychology Today


How to Best Use Detachment

Detachment can best be described as a process of letting go. 

Detachment can best be described as a process of letting go. It allows you to release difficult situations and, sometimes, difficult people. By detaching from past experiences and future expectations, you can look at your relationships, both personal and professional, more objectively, which gives you greater clarity.

Holding on to an idea just because you have become attached to it creates anxiety. Once you detach from the desired outcome, you can stop worrying about it. The truth is that most attachment is about control, and control is an illusion. So it’s better to get on with your life, even when you don’t get exactly what you want.

When you release your desire for control over the lives of others, it sets everyone free. Those endless hours of frustration can be turned into fruitful days of creativity.

Detaching is not always easy. You must learn that even when things go differently from how you think they should, it’s okay. If you are in pain over a difference of opinion, it helps to understand why you want what you want in the first place. If your motivation is one of selfishness rather than one of balance, you may need to take another look at the situation.

Detaching in a relationship may make your partner feel abandoned. Instead, you need to learn to detach from wanting to be right. Realizing that your mate’s divergent ideas provide you with lively conversation is a great technique for preventing differences of opinion from becoming downward spirals of distance and hurt. If you look at what’s most important here, it’s not winning. In a relationship, win-lose is the same as lose-lose.

You do not detach by getting angry or casting blame. Detachment is the absence of prejudice or bias. When a discussion gets heated and you notice yourself trying to take control, it’s best to take a break and do something else for a while. Exercise, play, putter around the house, or just veg-out in front of the tube.

Detachment is not about moving out of the driver’s seat and into the passenger seat. It’s about becoming a better observer of yourself and those around you. Questioning what’s the best thing for everyone concerned can throw much-needed light on any situation.

Another great technique is to consider everyone else’s ideas as well as your own. You may find that blending several thoughts from different individuals can make whatever you’re working on or dealing with much clearer.

One more good method to try when you need to detach or step away from an issue is to actually step outside. Then, take a couple of deep breaths before taking stock of what you really need or want.

Detachment is not easy and, as with most new tools, it takes some time to learn how to use it. But I promise that with a little time and practice, your anxiety levels will drop and your relationships will be more fulfilling. This process will help you lead a longer and happier life.

More from Barton Goldsmith Ph.D.
More from Psychology Today