Category Archives: detach with love

The Power of… Not Engaging?

Don’t Engage.
Don’t Engage.
Don’t Engage.

This has been my mantra of sorts for a while now. It’s the phrase I hear in my head (always repeated three times) when I am waffling between commenting on something in social media, or jumping into the fray of some in-person drama. Usually, I have the presence of mind to steer clear, but sometimes I make the mistake of chiming in… when chiming in is the worst decision I could have made. Hence, I created a phrase to help remind me of the importance – and power – of not engaging.

Lately, interestingly, I’ve found that I’ve been teaching and sharing this powerful (non)tool more and more often. The problem I see is that people are feeling worn out emotionally, which spills over into our daily lives and diminishes our patience and tolerance for others (aka: our compassion).

Choosing a path of non-engagement preserves our compassion and amplifies our energy.

Let me clarify that “non-engagement” is not the same as disengagement. Disengagement implies a level of not caring, or apathy. It’s a “head-in-the-sand” mentality. Non-engagement is about witnessing. It’s about watching, learning, seeing, reading, and understanding from a neutral perspective so that your emotions (your energy) is not sucked into the mayhem and chaos, thereby depleting you or lowering your vibration.

Non-engagement helps to keep you in alignment with who you are, while also allowing you to have ample amounts of energy to choose where, when, and how to engage. This is key. This means that you can direct your focus and your energy into that which you wish to fuel, and THAT is where the power lies.

When you accept that you can CHOOSE where, how, and to what you wish to give your energy, life becomes infinitely more possible. It’s okay to not engage in the battles. All activism is not necessarily good activism, especially if the activists are constantly feeling depleted. This is why it’s important to know where your heart resides, and pursue that. If it’s animal protection and rescue – do that. If it’s politics – do that. If it’s the environment – do that. If it’s not activism – that’s okay too.

And if someone tells you that you need to be more active in a different arena, it’s okay to tell them that you have already chosen where you are giving your energy and attention. This is what it means to be empowered, to stand in your boots. It’s about knowing that…

…You can choose what you give your energy to;
…You can choose not to engage in the chaos; and
…You can choose to let the trauma-drama train pass you by.

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Engagement is a choice. Non-engagement is a choice, and both are acceptable. In fact, both are necessary if you wish to have the energy, compassion, and presence to engage where your heart leads. If we engage in chaos, we fuel chaos. Because, remember: Where we choose to engage, we fuel.

xoxo,
Martina

How Non-Attachment Enhanced My Birthday

Last week was my birthday, and it was one of the best I’ve celebrated in a long time for many reasons, but especially this:

I practiced non-attachment.

Everything throughout the day was a gift. The text from an old friend? A gift. The call from across the pond? A gift. Three small celebrations with family and friends? All gifts.

Absolutely everything in my day was filled with joy, because I wasn’t attached to any of it. I was in a space of non-attachment, and non-attachment allows you to move through life with more grace and ease than practically anything else. 

So what is non-attachment?

To begin with, let’s identify what it’s not. It’s not detachment. Detachment still requires there to be something else to detach from. Non-attachment has no such requirement. Detachment is a response to something, non-attachment just is.

Non-attachment isn’t the same as not caring, however. Non-attachment is about not having an investment in the outcome. It’s a process of divestment, in which the object is not just no longer a focus to be for or against, but there is no object. Non-attachment is about transcending expectations to arrive at a place with no suffering, because there’s nothing to react to or push against or for.

Everything just is. 

If I had not been practicing non-attachment, like in years past, I would have wondered where certain texts, calls, or cards were and why I had or had not received them by now. I would have been mired in the story my brain made up about the situation, rather than simply not creating a situation to begin with. In making up stories about why, I would have been stuck in a cycle of expectation and suffering.

Instead of creating stories and situations, I chose not to invest my time or energy into these questions or anything related. I went through my day and saw every incoming birthday wish as a bonus. There was nothing to push against, there was only the open arms of receptivity to what is. And as a result, I had one of the best birthdays I’ve had in a while, filled with love and celebration.

I’m not saying non-attachment is easy (there were one or two “why haven’t I heard from x yet?” thoughts that popped up). But I am saying that a practice of non-attachment makes life easier. It also opens us up to greater possibility for joy, creativity, and innovation, because we have freed up significant mental and emotional real estate in our minds and in our time… and those are probably the best gifts of all.

Detaching or Disengaging?

There is “detach with love” and then there is “disengage with compassion.”

You haven’t heard of the second one? That’s because I’ve only recently developed it. Here’s why:

During my years in Al-Anon, where I first heard the phrase, I always struggled with the “detach with love” concept. For some reason it felt difficult for me to access. The idea of loving someone and simultaneously detaching from them felt contradictory.

I tried though. I tried to detach and remain loving. I tried to love and divest myself of the desire for an outcome. I tried to detach from any hope or prayer, while offering love. It didn’t work. Love, by its nature, meant I was invested. Perhaps it would have been easier if it wasn’t my spouse I was trying to detach from. Maybe a distant cousin or acquaintance would have been easier to love without investment. So, I gave it a lot of lip service, but in the end, I could never get my head or heart around the concept of detaching from someone I loved.

Perhaps is semantics. But for me, it mattered.

In the end, I was only able to detach when I turned my love on myself. I suddenly realized the most loving thing I could do was to entirely detach from the sick/addicted person in my life, because it wasn’t loving toward me – or them.

Loving them wasn’t helping them get better, and it was slowly killing me. So, I did the loving thing and loved myself enough to leave. I detached. That was the only time I felt I could detach and be loving simultaneously. The difference was the focus of my love: I was loving myself.

Fast forward a few years, and I’ve come up with a variation on the theme that actually works for me and my clients, with whom I’ve shared this concept.

Disengage with compassion.

Love never enters the equation, therefore it’s never called into question whether you love the person or not. It’s not about love; It’s about compassion. And it’s easier to be compassionate when you disengage from the drama-trauma cycle

Disengaging means you can stay in the situation and feel empowered to choose the behaviors you wish to interact with. If they’re unhealthy, or unloving, you can choose to no longer engage them. Furthermore, you can do so with compassion.

Compassion looks like holding space for the other person to do what they’re doing without judgment by you. Compassion looks like holding your own boundaries and respecting theirs. Compassion looks like understanding, without expectation. Compassion doesn’t require you to invest in the other person or the hope that their behavior will change. Compassion helps you to remain neutral during challenging times.

So, if, like me, you have ever gotten stuck with the “push-pull” essence of “detach with love,” I suggest you try disengaging with compassion. You may find the simple word shift empowering.