by Todd Schaefer
Doesn’t loving someone compassionately mean that we love them very closely? Sure it does! An old saying tells us that two people who are close friends or lovers are “attached at the hip.” So why would we want to detach from them at all? Wouldn’t we want to stay close to the people that we love the most? A whole new meaning evolves once we combine the seemingly contradictory words “compassion” and “detachment.”
Before we can talk about why we might detach from someone, let’s talk about what happens when we are attached to someone. Let’s say that you and I are having an argument. Looking at this argument from an energetic perspective, you might say that both of us are projecting energy. We are projecting energy as words, and energy as feelings. My words are made up of vibrations – of energy. I am not only communicating energy as words, I am also sharing my beliefs, thought processes, attitudes, pains and suffering from my past, judgments, expectations and more. All of these things about me are projected from my being when I speak to you. In the course of an argument, it can be easy to see these things occurring if we can tune into them. We use the example of an argument because it is an example of when energy is clashing between two people, and we can feel this energy strongly. After observing some of these dynamics, you might say that, during an argument, we are energetically attached.
If we are energetically attached, how do we detach then? The first thing we can examine that can help us is to remember to not take offense while in an argument. Given, it can be challenging to not be offended during an argument. But that doesn’t mean we can’t learn how to do it! When we take offense, we are reacting to what someone says. But who are we truly reacting to? The answer is our own self. The one we are arguing with merely serves as a catalyst to our own energy. During the course of our day, we see many arguments on television, in the work place and more. But we are obviously not involved. We are merely the observers. It’s easy to remain detached when we are not involved. Yet, we can still be energetically detached while we are involved! If we keep in mind that what people say to us comes from them – their attitudes, beliefs and especially their expectations – we can realize that what they say really has little to do with us. How well could you detach while in an argument if you knew that the one arguing with you was only really saying something about himself? Even if what he says is about you, it is still coming from him. It is his creation. His interpretation of you. And that is not who you are.
Whether it is our own energy or another’s energy, if we attach to what is happening, we operate within ourselves from diminished levels of clarity. When we are not clear, we have an energetic blockage. Blockages are denser energies like anger and fear. When we have that blockage, the flow of energy within us inhibits our ability to clearly see the outside world. The less that we deal with ourselves, the more we begin to see things clearly. We begin to perceive without judgment and without expectation. It is then that we begin seeing “all that is” more clearly because we are no longer only seeing what we are projecting.
We become confused sometimes because we forget the difference between when we are projecting energy and when we are perceiving the energy of what is actually happening outside of us. We see through our own subjective lens so often, we sometimes forget that there is a world beyond the way that we interpret it. For example, if I carry many pains around with me and constantly project an image of pain about myself, how often am I truly interacting with the world outside of me? Not very often, I would say. Instead of interacting with the new energy in the world, I am inhibited by my blocked, inner flow of energy. If that happens, I will create opportunities to unblock that flow. Those opportunities will likely manifest into our experience as obstacles and challenges.
Detaching From Expectations
Interestingly enough, when we are detached and no longer are projecting our own expectations about the world or the people in it, will we feel the same way about the world? Perhaps there is something more to the world beyond our current understanding, and that we are the only force stopping ourselves from seeing more of it? To go beyond our own selves permits us to see things much more clearly. One of the most important gifts we give ourselves is the opportunity to see clearly who we are, and we achieve this through awareness.
When I see myself clearly, I can then see you clearly. If I do not see myself clearly, I cannot see you clearly. If I get upset with you, I was upset within myself first. (You did not create the upset – I did, remember?) My expectation of how you should respond to me is not the same as yours. Therefore, you are emotionally detached from my expectation. If I release my expectation (or attachment) that you should respond to me in a certain way, I am no longer giving you the power to “push my buttons.” You don’t need to see clearly my expectations. I only need to see clearly the energy inside of myself in order to see you clearly. This is the energy that I can nurture. Nurturing that energy that is on the inside of me is an act of self love. I have total self love when I am not controlled emotionally by the world that does not meet my expectations or judgments. I am then free and detached to love it for what it is.
Let’s say we’ve released all of our expectations and have detached from the world around us. We still love the world and the people in it. However, we are no longer subject to its influence. We are now at the point where we can love the world without allowing its drama to become our drama. We can now compassionately detach from family and friends. This allows us to love those around us without enabling their dramas. This is compassionately detaching.
Compassionately Detaching From People
Many of us come together in order to support each other in our lives (let’s call our lives our “stories” because we crea
te them). However, we sometimes enable others’ stories if we become emotionally sucked in/attached/victimized. Essentially, this allows those we are trying to help to stay stuck where they are, because we have joined them in their story! Enabling someone’s story does not always help them grow. We no longer empower another person’s growth when we allow them to make us part of their story. We cannot help another person’s pain if we become the victim as well. This is the difference between sympathy and empathy (or compassion). Sympathy feels what the victim feels. With sympathy, what happens to one person happens to the other. Sympathy does not know how to detach from people. However, true compassion feels love and does not attach to the victim’s emotions (and story).
There is another story about a boy who traveled in his hot air balloon. He came across a meadow where he saw another boy on a farm who had fallen in the mud and was stuck. The boy in the balloon was happy he could help and went to the stuck boy and threw down a rope. The stuck boy began climbing up the rope. Although he was climbing the rope, his weight was too much for the balloon and the balloon began to descend. The boy in the balloon called out that to the stuck boy that his weight was too much and that he should let go. The boy climbing (who was going nowhere except pulling the balloon down to the ground) did not respond. Eventually, the two boys and the hot air balloon were stuck in the mud.
The boy in the mud was too busy living out his own story to see that he was pulling another person into it. He may have wanted to get out of the mud, but he did not have the awareness to know that he was hurting someone else, too. Many times, those around us who need help are not in a position of awareness where they can acknowledge the love that we are giving to them. A person who is ready for more awareness and self-love will feel it, and will make the climb up the rope with you, acknowledging the successes that you both make along the way with awareness. It is a side by side nurturing process, where the one being helped grows in his awareness, as well as the person who serves grows. On the other hand, if a person is only looking for a temporary escape, or simply a freedom from an addiction, they are likely to be unaware, and unknowingly or even recklessly pull you into their drama.
There is a difference between enabling a person’s story versus empowering their growth. If we compassionately detach from someone’s story, we are free from becoming stuck or pulled into it. We are free to give them the level of love that they require to leave their story, if they choose. By not allowing them to subject you to their story, you are empowering them to leave it. You can do this no matter where they are or wish to go. If they still value you, they will construct a lifeline to you which is based in truth and awareness (and detached from their story). Truth is universal. It is the bridge that we give to one another when we create a connection that is deeper and more truthful than our usual story. If you can create a connection together which promotes the person’s growth without attaching to their story, it will be based in truth. They may still have the story or drama, but it will no longer be a part of your new relationship with them. If they do not value you more than the story, they will find someone else who will listen to and enable their story. This is not only called compassionate detachment, it is also an act of tremendous self-love and self respect on your part. You have the wisdom to know when helping someone does not help you. Your radiance of self-love, by example, will teach them how to radiate more self-love to themselves and promote detachment from their own story.
We have created our stories in order to learn from them. However, in the new energy, many of the creations or dramas that we had created long ago and carried with us we no longer need. So how do we re-create our new story and let go of the old one? We know that we no longer need to create pain in order to grow, and we also know that we don’t have to project that pain onto others. If we are in pain, unless the one we are “arguing” with can come from a deeper place of self-love and awareness than us, it is likely that they too will get caught up in our drama. In order receive help, we need to begin compassionately detaching from our own pain.
Compassionately Detaching from Pain
Often at an unconscious level, many of us believe that we must re-create the scenarios where we found our pain in order to heal it. You know people who bring their pain with them every time you see them. You must tip toe around them in order to not activate their pain. What many of us do not realize is that the pain continually resurfaces in our awareness because it wants to be released.
Although pain is our creation, it is not who we are, as individuals. Pain was not meant to be a possession, although many of us have created it as a possession, allowing for continual expression of the gifts pain brings. Pain, being a creative energy, can be a great source of inspiration and creativity. Yet, many people fall into the trap of believing that “they are their pain” rather than they only “experience the pain.” We see the pains as aspects of ourselves, pieces of who we are. “I am me because of the hardships I have endured,” for example. Although the hardships we created may have assisted while enduring them, we are still not the hardships themselves. If we associate our hardships as our strength or identity, we perpetuate the illusion of the hardship, and we attract more hardships into our experience. We say that we want to move past it on some days, but we still identify with what has happened to us so heavily that we call it “who we are,” or “a big part of us.” At this point, we do not yet understand that letting go of the pain increases self-love more than the feeling of strength we say we get from carrying it with us. This is what perpetuates a story, even if we sometimes say we want to leave it. We need to become aware of what is involved in order to leave it.
Letting pain go is as simple as letting it go. You can decide to do this. You can snap your fingers, and say outloud, “I now let this pain go with love,” and you will begin to see changes inside of you. Nevertheless, many people let it go like casting out a fishing reel. They cast it out in an expression and feel good about it. But then they choose to reel the pain energy back in again. So, they do not give it true permission to leave. Pain can be a powerful companion because it makes us feel alive in our experience of it, but it will always be a temporary expression – a recycled energy which we use again and again. But using pain over and over again never truly allows us to reach deeper levels of self-love and awareness. Truly letting go has much longer term gifts. It allows for new energy to come in, new aspects of the divine human to come in, and more awareness of who we really are.
As mentioned earlier, people identify with their pains, and often, feel fear of losing themselves when confronted with letting go of their pain. Pain, being a form of fear, often clouds what lies beyond it. Fear is learned, and there is no fear beyond pain. There is only an increased love of self, patiently waiting to be embraced by us. Our self-love will even help us let the pain go when we choose. When we love any fear, we are transmuting the energy that we project out
from us. When we love it, we let it go. This allows for a clearer vision of how we see ourselves. Letting any old (fear-based) aspect of self go only reveals love. So, who are we? We are love in motion – energy expressed.
And the love of self is exactly what we encounter when we release what we thought we were!
With more awareness and self-love, we not only begin detaching from the pain of others (or the stories/dramas of others), but we begin to discover that detaching from the pain in others also promotes detaching from the pain in ourselves. By helping others through compassionate detachment, we therefore gain a sense of what it means to compassionately detach from the older aspects of ourselves. When we learn how to better love one another, we learn to better love ourselves. And the better we love ourselves, the better we can love others. In essence, there really is no difference, because we are all one.