Disconnection disguised as independence
The cost of detachment
We live in a culture where independence is the primary value for most people. From the time we are little kids on up we are praised for being able to do things for ourselves. One of our biggest fears is losing our independence or perceived freedom. Along with this there is the notion that the more detached we are the better we will be. The underlying belief is that being “detached” keeps us open and available to life instead of tying us down and threatening to take away our freedom.
When it boils down to it detachment is always based in fear. Fear that something will be missed, taken away or that we will get hurt. One example of this can be seen when people have “commitment phobia”. They can’t commit to be in a relationship, or to a job, or to stay living in one location for very long. These people often have a horrible time making definitive decisions for themselves. They have an underlying story of “what if I commit to this and then there is something else that arises.” They often feel that they won’t have a way out if they need one and will be trapped (lost freedom). There is also a fear that they will get hurt or hurt others with their decisions and by remaining detached they avoid emotional pain.
There is also what I call “pretend detachment”. This is where people act detached, but underneath care so deeply that the only way they can cope is to appear aloof and non-caring. This can show up as having low motivation, being rebellious, appearing distance, not giving opinions and pretending not to care what happens.
One of the coping strategies we use to detach is to quit desiring or taking action in our lives. Its ironic that so many people don’t know or are perpetually seeking for their life’s “purpose”. Most of them have numbed out their desires and with that their passion for their life’s mission.
True freedom and interdependence
When it comes to attachment, there is both healthy (secure) and unhealthy (insecure) attachment. When attachment is not healthy we are clinging on for dear life. We may cling to another person (called co-dependent) or we may cling to a job or any life circumstance where we are perceiving we NEED it in order to survive. Unhealthy attachment is survival based. There is a fear that we will not have enough without our attachment. Our security is outside of ourselves and we always feel at the mercy of our circumstances. We can experience this as a feeling of neediness inside of ourselves, feeling not ok unless others are ok, or not feeling ok if circumstances are unstable. We feel internally constricted, our breathing may be hard, people/things are not allowed to come and go out of our life and we feel trapped (yet circumstantial safe) and simultaneously afraid of freedom.
Secure attachment on the other hand is healthy. Being securely attached allows you to rest in connection with yourself, others and the rest of the universe, of which you are already a part of. Secure attachment provides freedom rather than feeling threatened that it will take your freedom away. Being securely attached in relationship with others allows you to both share your desires and wants and simultaneously be ok if the other cannot respond to your desires in the way that you want. It also allows you to care deeply about others (rather than be aloof pretending you don’t care) and also to be able to let them go, be who they are and listen to their inner calls as they need even when its different than yours. When this isn’t allowed within relationship we grow stagnate, feel stuck and can’t move forward. The same is true for jobs, careers, passions, etc. Being able to show up fully, feel fully, open our hearts and also to fully let go is only possible when we are securely attached.
When we stop demanding that support come from certain people, jobs, or circumstances, and open our perspective to include the support of seeming strangers and ordinary circumstances, we begin to see that support is always there. Rather than valuing independence as primary we begin to value interdependence. We realize the web in which we live and how each person/thing/situation is supporting us. We stop feeling that we have to do it on our own and that there is no one there to help us. In secure attachment we feel vulnerably safe, all inclusive and have the ability to care as deeply as we desire too without losing connection to our inner essence.
Dr. Amanda Hessel, Chiropractor, Network Spinal Analysis & Somato-Respiratory Integration, Boulder, Colorado