Loving Detachment Might Be the Solution

Highly sensitive people can struggle with the concept of loving detachment because of our strong empathy. We sometimes become overly focused on others to the detriment of our own well-being. This can lead us into habits of people pleasing, caretaking, or codependency. There is nothing wrong with caretaking if our care for others does not:

1. Take the place of caring for ourselves.

2. Cause us to neglect our own self-care.

3. Bring us woe in the guise of excessive stress, worry, anxiety, or depression.

*Detachment is neither kind nor unkind. It does not imply judgment or condemnation of the person or situation from which we are detaching. Separating ourselves from the adverse effects of another person’s behavior can be a means of detaching. This does not necessarily require physical separation. Detachment can help us look at our situations realistically and objectively.

Detachment allows us to let go of our obsession with another’s behavior and begin to lead happier and more manageable lives, lives with dignity and rights, lives guided by the deep processing and inherent wisdom of our sensitive brains.

Managing our empathy with appropriate boundaries requires that we learn to:

  • Not suffer because of the actions or reactions of other people.
  • Not to allow ourselves to be used or abused by others, even when they are well-intentioned.
  • Not to do for others what they can do for themselves.
  • Not to manipulate situations so others take care of themselves or behave as we see fit.
  • Not to cover up for another’s mistakes or misdeeds.
  • Not to create a crisis.
  • Not to prevent another person’s crisis if it is in the natural course of events.

By learning to keep the focus on ourselves, our attitudes and well-being improve. We allow others in our lives the dignity of experiencing the consequences of their own choices and actions.

*Adapted from Detachment, a pamphlet of Al-Anon Family Groups, al-anon.org

Wondering if you are highly sensitive?

Listen to a short talk on it.