How To Emotionally Detach: Learning To Let Go

Updated September 8, 2023by Regain Editorial Team

Learning to detach from emotions can make it easier to let go of the past and live in the present. Letting go means different things to different people. For example, it might mean letting go of expectations in your relationships, accepting people for who they are, or releasing grief you've carried for years after losing a loved one. 

This guide explores how emotional detachment can apply to different situations and help you live a rich and fulfilling life. We'll also highlight some tips, like mindfulness and online therapy, that may help you learn to let go.

What Is Emotional Detachment?

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For the purposes of this article, emotional detachment describes being able to observe yourself, others, and the world around you without criticism. In this sense, it's not a withholding of yourself but an understanding of your place and role in the grand scheme of life. 

Emotional detachment has the potential to help with boundary setting, allowing you to divert your energy where it's most wanted and needed. And it can be synonymous with letting go. It helps us base things like arguments, large purchases, and decisions on thoughtful discourse, understanding, and acceptance instead of emotional responses.

For example, without emotional detachment, an individual might fight with a loved one and conclude, "You don't love me!" However, an emotionally detached individual might conclude, "I think you're trying to tell me you aren't sure you want to be in this relationship anymore – we should discuss this further." Although both convey a similar message, one is usually processed using emotions and the other with cognition and consideration.

Why Letting Go Matters

While emotions are part of being human and can be the source of positive feelings, actions, and movements, they also have the potential to be the source of pain, destruction, and health issues. Emotional detachment doesn't mean not feeling things but separating yourself from what you feel when it's beneficial.

Removing your emotions from every decision and interaction might give you a more stable and enjoyable life experience. And this may help you maintain emotional equilibrium, potentially making emotional detachment easier to practice in the future. 

When Should You Let Go?

In simple situations, such as minor arguments with a friend, and intense situations, like losing your job, you may find relief, stability, and comfort when you let go and emotionally detach. And you can practice letting go in these situations regardless of age, background, abilities, wants, and needs.

This practice may make it easier to comfort yourself when experiencing sadness, anger, and other unpleasant emotions, as you can consider what would help you feel better from a place of detachment.

How To Let Go

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Letting go often involves noticing your emotions, acknowledging your experiences, and thinking or acting from a place of reason. It encourages you to observe your experiences, thoughts, emotions, feelings, and pain from an outside perspective. In doing so, you can learn to avoid attaching emotional upset and turmoil to the changes, upheavals, or struggles in your life. 

These practices might help you improve your ability to let go. 

Mindfulness

Letting go is often approached as a mindfulness practice because many mindfulness practices prompt you to notice the thoughts in your mind without judgment. If you'd like to practice mindfulness, try tuning into your body, what you feel emotionally, and how it's manifesting physically. Then, acknowledge these feelings for a moment before moving on with your day. 

For example, you may feel anxious about a financial situation and notice tightness in your throat and chest. 

Tuning into your emotional reactions, their physical responses, and how they affect you might make it easier to recognize them in the future. And this mindfulness may help you stop and detach when they arise, allowing you to maintain a sense of equilibrium in the middle of chaos.

Acceptance

For most of us, acceptance is an ongoing process, not a one-time decision. Accepting where you are, who you are, the people around you, and the state of the world is an ongoing, daily choice. 

Many acceptance practices involve taking deep breaths and acknowledging that you have no control over a given situation or the feelings and behaviors of other people. You can control a significant portion of yourself, but that's all, and these practices encourage you to accept the rest as it is and act accordingly.

Avoid Expectations

Expectations have the potential to rob you of contentment and peace. And they may create resentment and discontent in a job, relationship, or place. 

For many, living in the present and viewing each day as a new day helps with releasing expectations. For example, if you go to sleep late, when you wake up the next day, you can say, "I am awake. It is a new day. Anything could happen." With expectations, however, you might wake up saying, "I'm exhausted. I made a poor decision last night, and it will ruin this day, too."

Learning To Let Go

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The idea of letting go has the potential to be powerful. While understanding that you have no control over anything but your actions, thoughts, and beliefs may initially feel frightening, it can also be freeing. 

For example, many mental health conditions are exacerbated by feeling as though you "should" look, behave, feel, or be a certain way, but letting go of these societal concepts and living your life for yourself can pave the way for healing and growth.

Mindfulness, acceptance, and avoiding expectations may be helpful, but some individuals might need help when learning to let go. Accepting this and seeking professional assistance offers a place to begin the journey – there's nothing wrong with seeking mental health care. Research has shown that in-person and online therapy are equally effective, so choose whichever treatment method works best for you. 

Online therapy, for example, has proven effective in helping people with anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, phobias, addiction, and more. And improving symptoms may make it easier to let go, especially when your therapist is there to support and guide you through the process. 

Takeaway

Emotionally detaching and letting go is typically an ongoing process that involves practices like mindfulness, acceptance, and releasing expectations. Practicing detachment is often challenging, but therapy can help you find the support you need to learn this skill. 

At Regain, we'll connect you with a licensed online therapist who can help you develop habits and tools that make it easier to let go and move forward. Your professional can help you with anything you'd like to let go of, whether it's trauma, past relationships, grief, confusion, or abandonment. You can use any computer, tablet, or smartphone to connect in ways and at times that work for your schedule and life. 

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