Let Go Now: Embracing Detachment

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Overview

So many of us spend so much time enmeshed in other people's problems, trying to solve or change them, that we don't really know where we begin and they end. Not reacting to people or situations that provoke us is not an easy skill to develop. It takes practice and conviction that not reacting, not increasing the drama, doesn't mean we don't care. On the contrary, we are freed to show genuine love and care only when we can detach from the knee-jerk need to fix, solve, rescue, or control. Even the idea that someone...

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Overview

So many of us spend so much time enmeshed in other people's problems, trying to solve or change them, that we don't really know where we begin and they end. Not reacting to people or situations that provoke us is not an easy skill to develop. It takes practice and conviction that not reacting, not increasing the drama, doesn't mean we don't care. On the contrary, we are freed to show genuine love and care only when we can detach from the knee-jerk need to fix, solve, rescue, or control. Even the idea that someone else can make us feel happy (or beautiful or angry) or we them is an illusion, says Casey in this remarkable book. All our feelings come from within and we get to choose how to respond to life.

The meditations in this power-packed little book provide us the tools we need to practice letting go of the illusion that we can control anyone or anything beyond our selves. Casey teaches us to focus on finding our own balance point and recognizing how to get to it whenever we find ourselves tempted to rescue or enmesh.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Though the prolific Casey (Change Your Mind and Your Life Will Follow) admits that embracing detachment (to "bring together" separation) is a conundrum, she sees it as a way of life that must be followed in order to find true peace. A dysfunctional upbringing lead her to alcohol abuse and then AA, which helped her to understand her codependent behavior: she had "danced around others" and based her self-image around their approval. By practicing detachment, which she admits requires a commitment of patience and time, she experienced a major transformation. Too many of us, Casey believes, allow the behavior of others, whether good, bad, or indifferent, to control us. After a brief introduction, she presents 200 short, straightforward daily lessons, from "detachment from others is necessary to fully enjoy attachment to God" to "relinquishing the role of being someone else's Higher Power," illustrating the many forms that detachment can take in one's life, and the obvious foundation behind her self-help philosophy. Obviously inspired by the tenets of AA, and updated with an eye to the east, Casey's latest is an easy reference guide for those seeking recovery or peace.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781573244664
  • Publisher: Red Wheel/Weiser
  • Publication date: 8/1/2010
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 133,671
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Karen Casey is a sought-after speaker at recovery and spirituality conferences She conducts Change Your Mind workshops based on her bestselling Change Your Mind and Your Life Will Follow. She and her husband divide their time between Florida and Minnesota. Visit her online at www.womens-spirituality.com, and read her blog at karencasey.wordpress.com.

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Read an Excerpt

let go now

embracing detachment


By Karen Casey

Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC

Copyright © 2010 Karen Casey
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-60925-160-4



CHAPTER 1

meditations

1 Detachment is simply watching the events that are unfolding around you, getting involved only when your journey is part of the experience.


Not reacting to the people or the situations that so easily attract our attention is not an easy skill to develop. And a skill it is. We must practice driving and chipping and putting a golf ball in order to be good golfers. We have to hit thousands of tennis balls against a backdrop to play tennis competitively. And we have to sit for long, long hours at the piano keys in order to become proficient pianists. We would not expect to be very good at any one of these activities without practice—lots of it.

But we seldom grasp, until after many failures, sometimes years of failures, that we have to practice and rehearse again and again the "art" of not reacting, of "detaching," from the actions of those around us. How often we hear or, worse yet, say, "He made me do it!" Wrong! No one can make us do anything. Only we have the power to do or not do whatever we do. That's the good news, in fact. We are in charge of ourselves; no one else is. The freedom that accompanies this realization will lift our spirits throughout the day.

Getting involved in the actions of others isn't in my best interests, most of the time. I will walk away when I need to today.

2 Detachment is stepping back from an experience in order to allow room for God to do His or Her part.

I seldom remember, without some prodding that I initially resist, that God is a factor in every person's experience. My ego's first inclination is to think that I am a necessary factor—not just an ordinary necessary factor but the deciding one—in the lives of my friends and family. Giving up control and letting God be the key influence in the lives of my loved ones is not easy. It takes trust. Not only trust in God but also trust in others and in my own willingness to approach my experiences with all of them differently.

The benefit of coming to believe that God is the key factor in everyone's life is that it releases us from a heavy burden. Too many of us have tried to manage the lives of too many others for far too long. No one gains in that scenario. On the contrary, everyone loses the peace that comes with turning our lives over to the care and guidance of a loving God.

Keeping a mental note of all the times I step away from an experience that isn't mine to control will fill me with a sense of empowerment. What a great opportunity this will be today.


3 Detachment promises quiet contentment.

Choosing contentment over agitation seems like a simple choice, but it apparently isn't for many of us. All we have to do is take a brief inventory of the many encounters we had yesterday. How many of them were peaceful? Did we take "the high road" very often? Were a few of those encounters riddled with words or actions that embarrass us in retrospect? Were there some we regret yet today?

It's been my experience that the encounters that are not peaceful fall into two categories: First, there are those that are the direct result of my trying to make something my business that is not my business—in other words, of my trying to control that which is not mine to control. The other category can best be described as letting someone else's behavior determine how I feel about myself. This becomes a cesspool, and I have wallowed in it far too many times. Fortunately, I am learning to make better choices. Now, I can walk away, most of the time, when I need to. How about you?

The first few times we make the choice to "be peaceful rather than right," it feels like denial. But with practice it will become the preferred choice. Give it a try today.


4 Detachment is making no one a project.

It's my guess that since you have found this book of interest, you are able to relate to some of the struggles I have had over the years. One of these is "dancing around" the life of someone else, rather than leading my own life. I am pleased to say I have made a lot of progress in this arena, but for many decades, I didn't know there was any other way to live. If someone else wasn't at the center of my life, I wasn't sure who I was. What a sad existence. What a sad recollection, too.

Not letting someone else determine who we are or what we think or how we feel is revelatory when first encountered as an idea. I was introduced to this notion in 1971 in a book titled Why Am I Afraid to Tell You Who I Am? by John Powell. I immediately embraced the philosophy even though I knew it was a truth I was not yet able to practice. Now, many years later, I realize that we are often given the seed of an idea long before it's able to sprout real growth in our own lives. The fortunate thing is that we are never the same after the idea first presents itself.

I am my only project! Fully embracing this idea gives me so much freedom to do the many things I have been born to do. Others are in our lives for a reason, but they are not present as our works in progress.


5 Detachment means taking no hostages.

Perhaps you have never thought that your obsession with another person might be defined as hostage taking. Historically, we think of hostages as those people who are imprisoned, particularly in a time of war. However, we can slide quite easily into making a friend or loved one a hostage of sorts by our attempts to control their every move. Our smothering focus can be likened to making them our prisoner. But since the natural inclination of every prisoner is to want to flee, the outcome of our behavior will never give us the result we are seeking.

Why is it that we are so determined to control someone else? I have given this a lot of consideration for the past few years and have concluded that our need to control others grows out of our own insecurity. We fear abandonment, perhaps, or simple rejection at least. Both will become the reality if we insist on keeping our focus on them rather than on us. Making the decision to change our focus is an available option.

While having a hostage might make us feel secure momentarily, we can always expect them to try to escape. That's the natural inclination. Is that really how we want to live?


6 Detachment means giving up outcomes.

Perhaps you have heard this wise phrase: Our job is the effort, not the outcome. But how often do we embrace it fully? Generally, we want to secure the result that we have imagined is the perfect one. To do this, we assume that we have to shepherd the project or the situation or the person down the path that leads to our definition of the "natural conclusion." But the correct conclusion—God's will—might not even resemble our will. That's not an easy adjustment to make in our thinking.

Hindsight is so revealing. For just a moment, recall a situation in your past that you were determined to control, but the outcome was simply not what you had envisioned. Can you see how much better God's outcome was? In my life, had I managed to make happen many of my "educated" choices, I'd not be alive to write this book. Thank goodness my Higher Power had a far better outcome for me than my own. Now I know, even though I am still inclined to forget, that doing my part and then letting go of the rest will ensure, at the very least, my peace of mind. I like that feeling.

Detaching from outcomes, those that apply to us and those that apply to the actions of others, is the surest way to a peaceful day. Trying is believing.


7 Detachment is letting the solutions be determined by God.

Solutions are seldom simple. Perhaps that's because they generally involve other people too. When any one of us is certain that we have the best solution for any problem or situation confronting us, we have quite naturally chosen one that benefits us. There's nothing wrong with that stance. However, it may not be the best solution for all the people who are affected by the situation. Backing off and letting God be a participant in every decision results in an outcome that offers us peace of mind and the most beneficial solution for all.

If only we could remember that our Higher Power is a willing participant, we might call Him or Her the troubleshooter for every situation we encounter. We don't ever have to figure out anything alone. God would prefer otherwise, in fact. We need not ever make plans without consultation with the One who always knows the best direction for us to take. Our Higher Power is like having a GPS at our constant disposal that will, without fail, get us to our right destination. Always. And we can enjoy peace of mind. Always.

Giving detachment a chance today will be like getting a paid vacation. We don't need to attend to situations that belong to others, and we can let God be part of every situation that does involve us. What relief we will feel.


8 Detachment is understanding that we are never the cause of someone else's actions.

We live in a society that wants to blame others for every unfortunate situation that befalls us. Taking responsibility for the experiences we have, particularly when they are unpleasant, is not behavior that comes naturally to us. Most of us likely pattern our ideas and attitudes after those we observed in our homes. Our parents mimicked their parents too, no doubt, so this habit has had a long life. It controls how most of us see and think and behave. It also has colored the attitudes of the people with whom we are sharing our journey. But it's time to stop this merry-go-round of blame.

No one can cause us to act in a particular way, and we are not to blame for anyone else's actions either! Others' actions are theirs, and solely theirs. Likewise, our choices about how to behave are ours. We might influence others or even be influenced, but the final decision about how one acts falls with the one acting. We may not be all too happy about taking full responsibility for ourselves in every instance, nor in relinquishing the responsibility for how others behave. But we will grow accustomed to this, and it will free us from many burdens. Time will prove this to be true.

Not having to be responsible for anyone but ourselves is a new way of seeing for many of us. Today can be peace-filled if we revel in this understanding.


9 Detachment is getting over "it," whatever "it" is.

The insanity of hanging on to those situations or recollections that disturbed our well-being, sometimes of occurrences that happened years ago, thinking that if we just figure them out we can change the people or the outcome, is far too familiar. I speak from experience! How often I have let the behavior of others take control of my emotions or my actions. My memories of a past slight, or an imagined slight, can easily be conjured up, and my feelings can be hurt or I can feel angry all over again. How embarrassing to admit this after all the years I have been making this spiritual journey. But alas, it's true, and I think it may occasionally be true for others, too.

This is not about living perfectly. It's about making progress, even a bit of progress, as regularly as possible. My struggle with acceptance has been the big issue lately. I simply have forgotten that it's not my job to change others or to even expect others to change. My job is to accept people as they are, knowing that their journey is exactly as it needs to be for them, as is mine. We are always where we need to be on this path. We are always traveling with those we need to travel with. Period. There are no accidents. Ever.

I will accept whatever is happening as part of the plan for me today. With God's help I can be fully accepting.


10 Detachment frees up our time.

When we are involved in the plans, the problems, the details, and the actions of others, whether friend, spouse, or child, we have less time to attend to our own lives. Many of us think that part of our "assignment" here is being available to whomever and whatever their focus is. But that's not true, not ever true, in fact. As parents we may need to closely supervise the activities of our children, but we shouldn't limit our focus to that alone. Our lives are, or can be, much richer than our role as parent or spouse or friend. Our attention must remain on those things that have "called to us" and only us on our journey.

Perhaps detachment was an unfamiliar concept to you before picking up this book. When I first heard the word, I struggled to understand its meaning. I deciphered it by going through the door of "attachment," actually. I did know how it felt to be attached to someone else. I had tried to keep loved ones attached to me for years. Coming to see that detachment was letting go, releasing others to make their own choices, their own mistakes, to realize their own dreams, initially felt like loneliness to me. My life simply had been a dance around others. Letting them be meant I was dancing alone. But then I discovered the freedom I had to actually move in ways that pleasured me, and joy replaced the tension that had haunted me for years. At last.

There will always be enough time to do what I am being called to do when I keep my attention where it belongs—on me.


11 Detachment simplifies our life.

Closely monitoring one life is really quite enough. Paying too close attention to someone else's life will only upset the balance of our own. We have the energy to live one life, not two or more. It's God's work to orchestrate the lives of others. Why are we so insistent on taking on more than we have been selected to do? Could it be that we are afraid others will leave us behind if we aren't wrapped up in their plans, their daily activities, their dreams for the future?

Having a simpler life, one that concerns itself with only our activities, is really so refreshing. So energizing. So peaceful. Until we remove our attention from the machinations of others, we can't even get a sense of what having more energy, extended periods of peace, and the joy that comes with detachment feels like. But once we have allowed ourselves to know this feeling, we will hunger for it more and more. In time, we will seek the freedom of detachment on a daily basis. And on a daily basis we will live peacefully.

Being peaceful and enjoying the simple life doesn't have to elude us. Keeping our focus where it belongs is the method for attaining this peace. Today is the right day to seek it.


12 Detachment is an acquired habit.

Obsession with the actions of others—wishing he or she would change, wanting more attention or perhaps less, wishing our significant others would let us decide their fate—is so exhausting. When we are caught up in the cycle of obsession, we are seldom even aware of how we are letting our own lives slip away. But slip away they will. Learning how to let go of others and their lives takes willingness, a tremendous commitment to staying the course, and constant practice. If we don't keep this as a goal for our lives, we will miss the opportunities God is sending us for our own unique growth. We can only do justice to one life; ours.

Being detached from someone does not mean no longer caring for them. It does not mean pretending they no longer exist. It does not mean avoiding all contact with them. Being detached simply means not letting their behavior determine our feelings. It means not letting their behavior determine how we act, how we think, how we pray. Detachment is a loving act for all concerned. No one wants to be the constant center of someone else's life, at least not for long. Two people lose their lives when either one is constantly focused on the other. That's not why we are here.

We can journey together today. From the shared journey we learn. But being enmeshed with another rather than complementing another's journey will destroy both parties. I will keep this in my memory bank today.


13 Detachment means freedom from obsession.

I, for one, am all too familiar with how obsessing over the actions of others can cause my emotions to spin out of control. Left unchecked, I can find myself in a downward spiral that feels overwhelming and can lead to the awful feeling of hopelessness that used to be a constant companion. Obsession with others on our path can creep up on us when least expected. But I have come to understand, with the help of those wiser than myself on this journey, that when I am not staying close enough to my Higher Power, I am very vulnerable to the old habit of watching others and letting how they behave determine how I feel.

I have been on this spiritual journey for many decades, actually for my whole life when I acknowledge that God was always present even when I was unable to acknowledge it. And yet, I can slip away from the very habits that keep me serene, sane, and living in the joy that is my birthright. I am quite certain the same is true for many of you. We can learn how to detach. We can think about God rather than about what someone else is doing or not doing. Moving our thoughts from one to the other is the key to happiness. It's guaranteed.

Being lovingly detached is the best way to honor one another's journey. Everyone is here for a specific set of lessons. We must allow everyone to follow his or her own inner guidance to learn their lessons.
(Continues...)


Excerpted from let go now by Karen Casey. Copyright © 2010 Karen Casey. Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Contents

Introduction          

MEDITATIONS          

PAUSE AND REFLECT          

PAUSE AND REFLECT          

PAUSE AND REFLECT          

PAUSE AND REFLECT          

PAUSE AND REFLECT          

PAUSE AND REFLECT          

PAUSE AND REFLECT          

PAUSE AND REFLECT          

PAUSE AND REFLECT          

PAUSE AND REFLECT          

PAUSE AND REFLECT          

PAUSE AND REFLECT          

PAUSE AND REFLECT          

PAUSE AND REFLECT          

PAUSE AND REFLECT          

PAUSE AND REFLECT          

PAUSE AND REFLECT          

PAUSE AND REFLECT          

PAUSE AND REFLECT          

PAUSE AND REFLECT          

Subject Index          


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