Learn to Detach with Love
The challenge of change is learning to detach and let go. That doesn’t mean we care any less about our loved ones, but we allow them the dignity of making mistakes and finding their own way. We take care of our own needs that we may be neglecting, and we empower others to do the same by supporting their choices. That also means we empathically and lovingly allow them to suffer the resulting consequences, by not removing the natural consequences of their actions, nor having an “I told you so” attitude.
Make “Live and let live” your mantra, and practice saying things like:
- “I’m so sorry to hear about your situation.”
- “You really have a dilemma.”
- What are your options?”
- What decision (actions) are you leaning toward?” or “What does your gut tell you?”
- “Trust your instincts.”
- “I’m sure you’ll find a solution.”
- “I believe you can handle it.”
Watching those you love struggle can be very difficult, and it can take all your strength not to jump in and help, especially when others expect you to behave in the old way. They’ll likely try to reel you in to give advice and other help. Because caretaking can be a compulsion, you may need outside support to maintain your boundaries and be overwhelmed with guilt. Detachment doesn’t mean being emotionally cold, but taking a hands-off – ego-off approach. This is truly loving someone. Your guilt will lessen in time and with it resentment making for a better relationship. For more on detachment and enabling, see Codependency for Dummies, and get “14 Tips for Letting Go” on my website.
© Darlene Lancer 2015