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How to Detach with Love: The Foundation of Peace

Learning how to detach with love is hard, yet really simple. And, it's the one thing that can set you on your path to peace.

If you love someone with addiction, detachment or acceptance can be hard to come by. It may seem like a fairy tale, too good to be true. And detachment is only for those that love someone with addiction. If you worry about your weight, your finances, struggle with work - detachment can also help you there. Here are three ways we can detach with love and find acceptance of our loved one.

3 Ways to Detach with Love

  1. Put faith in someone or something bigger than yourself. For me, this is God. For others, it is a Higher Power (HP). You may not believe in God, but you may feel that someone or something is watching out for us. That energy is where you must give your worries, your fears, and anxiety. Pray about it, ask for help, and know that God has this under control. You no longer need to maneuver and try to fix things. If someone you love is suffering from addiction, that is between them and God. It is not your place to try to change it. In fact, you won't be able to. An individual with addiction must come to the realization that they need help on their own. Setting up job interviews, paying their rent, or giving them cash for gas can be helpful if done in the right context. But, most likely, these gestures are prolonging the time it takes for someone to realize they need help. Let your loved one stumble, hard as it may be. It doesn't guarantee success, but it is more likely to help than enabling behaviors will.

  2. Recognize how your life has become while trying to change it. Have you noticed how stressful it is? All this worry and effort to try to get someone to do something they aren't ready to do? Even worse if you are being lied to or manipulated. I encourage you to journal about how this worry has affected you. How has it impacted your daily life? What could life be like without it? The obsessing and efforts to change someone are so detrimental that if you let go, you will feel an immediate sense of relief and peace. It is unlike anything I've ever felt before. I wish you this same peace.

  3. Be patient. Learning to detach with love can take some time. I encourage you to practice saying no to requests for money and assistance. When you feel the urge to do something that your loved one could do for themselves, recognize that moment as one where you have a choice. You can either say yes and stay where you are, or say no and get one step closer to peace. I hope you chose the latter.

In Al-Anon's book, Courage to Change, there is a story on January 22nd's page about detachment. It tells the story of a lady's husband who would fall out of bed almost every night as he was drunk. She would help him into bed every night. One night, she decided not to help him and she stepped over his body as he slept on the floor, and crawled into bed. It seemed a little heartless, so the next time it happened, she didn't help him into bed but she did cover him with a blanket. That is detaching with love. It doesn't mean we need to be insensitive or mean, it means we can protect ourselves without damaging our well-being.

In Melody Beattie's Codependent No More Workbook she likens detachment to cutting the string on a helium balloon. Once we cut the string we no longer have control. It flies up into the air, going wherever the wind blows it. It is free. She also states that it is common for the ones we love to find their way on their own once we detach because our controlling behavior is so distracting that it be comes an obsession for us and for them. Let go.

Learning to detach with love is all about stopping yourself before you make a decision. You will either go left or right. Left may be more comfortable and feel like the right thing - but right, while hard at first, will protect your well-being in the long term. So many times, the things we want to do that aren't best for us are short-term fixes - alcohol or drug use, buying that pair of shoes, screaming at someone - but the long-term things are what work. Take a moment and consider how your decision impacts your long-term peace. Then, decide.

We might struggle with other things besides addiction. It could be virtually anything - from finances, body image, to work. I have obsessed about my weight. Bought all the programs, done all the running, and have still been unhappy. Sometime not very long ago, I decided to let go. That the constant worry about my weight wasn't good for me. If I had an additional 5 or 10 pounds, it wasn't the end of the world. I found that I when I accepted myself, I look in the mirror and smile at my tummy. It probably won't be this way forever, but I've found a peace that I really enjoy. I've struggled with my body image for YEARS. I have likely spent thousands of dollars on programs and trainers. While I loved a lot of them, the work begins on the inside. For me, that is acceptance and appreciation. I detached from my obsession about my body with love.

I hope you take this first steps towards finding peace with whatever it is you are struggling with today. Take note of how you currently feel and how you want to feel going forward. I promise it will help guide your choices and bring you closer to peace. And, if you need some help in navigating how to detach with love, please find a therapist in your area. Al-Anon and Smart Recovery Family & Friends are great resources as well. Blessings~

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