Detachment: What Others Say About Us Is None Of Our Business


Detachment has many meanings, and many applications. One definition of detachment is “a state of being lost in thought.” Detachment is synonymous with being pensive, reflective and self-aware. Here’s how being self-aware protects us from getting hurt.

A certain degree of detachment is necessary for self-preservation. Otherwise when people label us, the associated hot and painful emotions sear. Detachment protects us from attacks like you’re:

  • Fat
  • Thin
  • Ethnically or racially unpopular
  • Religiously unpopular
  • Liberal
  • Conservative
  • Smart
  • Dumb
  • Evil
  • Rabid
  • Hateful

In Children It’s Bullying

Many of the negative statements that were projected on us as children were either absorbed and accepted. Those words caused us pain, or we mirrored the words right back.

If we were healthy, we could use negative statements as a mirror to others, knowing ourselves well enough not take on the negativity sent our way. In this manner, we took on detachment to mean that the negativity wasn’t about us and consequently, we shouldn’t take it personally. At least that is the ideal.

Others’ views of us is not the true reality of who or what we are.

What Has Happened To Us Now

The complexities of belonging to a group, a political party, a race or religion, in these perilous times have smudged the boundaries we had as children. Now, insecurity and low self-confidence can mean we take on the hurt of the labels that are casually (or cruelly) hurled in our direction.

Communication in the absence of self-awareness frequently results in our belief that we are what others say we are. In reality, however, it is merely a projection of what they are onto us; but without knowing who we are, we may readily take on the communication as if it were true. There is great pain in hearing and accepting the negative opinions of other even if we don’t believe them.

It is in self-awareness, that we can detach from a situation that is hurtful to us. When we know who we are, we also know who we are not.

Detachment when it comes to cruelty, bullying, and abuse in both political and personal relationships teaches us to separate ourselves (and who we know we are) from people with hurtful motives. Often, when a dialogue turns heated, accusations are thrown with the purpose of putting the other person in the wrong. People tell us who we are while they may know nothing either about who we are or who they really are. All they want is to control the conversation and diminish any rebuttal. Detachment creates space.

Once we know what is true for us, boundaries can be sketched and the process of emotional and physical detachment can begin. This brings peace and serenity. Some hurts from childhood trauma or abusive relationships run deep.