Home page of BPDFamily.com, online relationship supportMember registration here
November 18, 2019, 06:41:19 AM *
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
Board Admins: Harri, Once Removed
Senior Ambassadors: Cat Familiar, FaithHopeLove, I Am Redeemed, Mutt, Turkish
Ambassadors: Enabler, Forgiveness, formflier, GaGrl,  khibomsis , Longterm, Ozzie101, pursuingJoy, Swimmy55, zachira
  Help!   Groups   Please Donate Login to Post New?--Click here to register  
bing
Poll
Question:      As one who has read this article, how would you rate it?
Excellent - 40 (60.6%)
Good - 21 (31.8%)
Fair - 5 (7.6%)
Poor - 0 (0%)
Total Voters: 66

Pages: [1]   Go Down
  Print  
Author Topic: Just Let Go - Sally Kempton  (Read 990 times)
confused!!!
****
Offline Offline

Gender: Female
What is your sexual orientation: Gay, lesb
Posts: 327



« on: December 19, 2010, 06:33:39 PM »

Just Let Go

By Sally Kempton

sallykempton.com


Sometimes the simplest advice can be the hardest to take. Here's how to practice detachment without giving up on life.

I'll never forget the first time I seriously considered the relationship between detachment and freedom. I was in my 20s, staying with a friend in Vermont, trying to recover some equilibrium in the midst of a difficult breakup. One evening, bored with my moping, my friend tuned in the local alternative radio station, which happened to be broadcasting Ram Dass. He was telling a famous anecdote about the way you catch a monkey in India. You drop a handful of nuts into a jar with a small opening, he explained. The monkey puts his hand into the jar, grabs the nuts, and then finds that he can't get his fist out through the opening. If the monkey would just let go of the nuts, he could escape. But he won't.

Attachment leads to suffering, Ram Dass concluded. It's as simple as that: Detachment leads to freedom.

I knew he was talking directly to me. Between my two-pack-a-day cigarette habit and my painful relationship, I was definitely attached—and definitely suffering. But letting go of my fistful of nuts seemed unthinkable. I couldn't imagine what life would be like without the drama of a love affair, without cigarettes and coffee—not to mention other, subtler addictions, like worry, resentment, and judgment. Still, the story of the monkey and the jar stayed with me, a depth charge waiting to go off.

A year later, I had become a fledgling yogi. I no longer hung around with girlfriends who would listen to my latest troubles. Instead, my time was spent with people whose answer to any expression of discontentment was, "Let it go." Pursuing simplicity, I had blithely flung away my career, my apartment, and my boyfriend. What I hadn't managed to get rid of were the worry, the resentment, and the tendency to criticize. In short, I had simply moved from one behavioral pole to the other, and as a result, I was still suffering.

Only the Trying



It took me a few years of throwing out the baby instead of the bathwater to figure out that detachment is not about external things. In fact, as is so often the case with the big issues of spiritual life, detachment involves a deep paradox. It's true that those without a lot of clutter in their lives have more time for inner practice. But in the long run, disengaging ourselves from family, possessions, political activism, friendships, and career pursuits can actually impoverish our inner lives. Engagement with people and places, skills and ideas, money and possessions is what grounds inner practice in reality. Without these external relationships, and the pressure they create, it's hard to learn compassion; to whittle away at anger, pride, and hardness of heart; to put spiritual insights into action.

So we can't use detachment as an excuse not to deal with fundamental issues such as livelihood, power, self-esteem, and relationships with other people. (Well, we can, but eventually those issues will rise up and smack us in the face, like an insulted ingenue in a 1950s movie.) Nor can we make detachment a synonym for indifference, or carelessness, or passivity. Instead, we can practice detachment as a skill—perhaps the essential skill for infusing our lives with integrity and grace.

The Bhagavad Gita, which is surely the basic text on the practice of detachment, is wonderfully explicit on this point. Krishna tells Arjuna that acting with detachment means doing the right thing for its own sake, because it needs to be done, without worrying about success or failure. (T.S. Eliot paraphrased Krishna's advice when he wrote, "For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business."

At the same time, Krishna repeatedly reminds Arjuna not to cop out of doing his best in the role his destiny demands of him. In a sense, the Bhagavad Gita is one long teaching on how to act with maximum grace while under maximum pressure. The Gita actually addresses many of the questions that we have about detachment—pointing out, for instance, that we are really supposed to give up not our families or our capacity for enjoyment but our tendency to identify with our bodies and personalities instead of with pure, deathless Awareness.



Questions, Questions


Yet the Bhagavad Gita doesn't deal with all of our questions. That's just as well; the real juice of the inner life is discovering, step by step, how to find these answers for ourselves. For instance, how do we fall in love and remain detached? Where do we find the motivation to start a business, write a novel, get ourselves through law school, or work in the emergency room of a city hospital unless we care deeply about the outcome of what we're doing? What is the relationship between desire and detachment? What's the difference between real detachment and the indifference that comes with burnout?

What about social activism? Is it possible, for example, to fight for justice without getting caught up in anger or a sense of unfairness? And then there's the relationship between detachment and excellence. It's nearly impossible to excel at anything—including spiritual practice—if we aren't prepared to throw ourselves in 100 percent. Can we do that and still be detached?

Then there are the really knotty issues, the situations that seem literally defined by attachment, like our relationship to our children or to our own bodies. How do we work with attachments so visceral that to let go of them feels like letting go of life itself?

I have a friend whose 18-year-old son dropped out of school and now lives on the streets, choosing not to get a job. My friend and her ex-husband did everything they could to keep their son in school, including promising to support him financially through any form of educational training he chose. When none of their efforts worked, they acted on professional advice and withdrew financial support. Now, when they want to see him, they drive six hours north and go to the park where he hangs out and look for him. Their son seems fine with the whole situation, but they still wake up in the middle of the night, imagining him cold and hungry or seriously injured, and they move daily through different stages of worry, fear, and anger.

"This is the choice he's making about the way he wants to live his life," they tell themselves, drawing on the spiritual teachings that have nurtured them. "It's part of his journey. He has his own karma." But how do you stop being attached to your son's well-being? Can you just cut the cord that binds you to that long-cultivated feeling of concern and responsibility? During times like this—usually times of loss, since loss is notoriously more difficult to detach from than success—we face the hard truth about detachment practice: Detachment is rarely something we achieve once and for all. It's a moment-by-moment, day-by-day process of accepting reality as it presents itself, doing our best to align our actions with what we think is right, and surrendering the outcome.

On one of the homeless son's birthdays, his mother found him, took him to dinner, and bought him new clothes. He didn't like the pants, so he left them and went off in his old ones. "At least I saw him. At least I could tell him that I loved him," my friend said later. "I could remind him that anytime he wants to make other choices, we're here to help him."

I admire the way this woman holds the complexity of her feelings about her son, doing what she can while still recognizing what she has no power to do, looking for a way to find the best in the situation without glossing over its difficulties. There's nothing Pollyanna-ish about her detachment; it's hard-won. Life demands this of all of us—all of us—sooner or later, because if this world is a school meant to teach us how to love, it's also a school for teaching us how to deal with loss.

Detachment, Step by Step

When things are going well for us, when we feel strong and positive, when we're healthy and full of inspiration, when we're in love, it's easy to wonder why the yogic texts carry on so much about detachment. When we're faced with loss, grief, or failure, it looks much more appealing—our practice in detachment becomes a lifeline that can move us out of acute suffering into something close to peace.

Yet we can't leapfrog into detachment. That's why the Bhagavad Gita recommends developing our detachment muscles by working them day by day, starting with the small stuff. Detachment takes practice, and it reveals itself in stages.

Stage One: Acknowledgment

When we're dealing with a major loss or strong attachment, we always need to begin by acknowledging and working with our feelings. These feelings are the stickiest aspects of attachment: the excited desire we feel when we want something, the anxiety we feel about losing it, and the sense of hopelessness that can arise when we fail to achieve it.

Acknowledgment doesn't just mean recognizing that you want something badly or that you're feeling loss. When you want something, feel how you want it—find the wanting feeling in your body. When you're feeling cocky about a victory, be with the part of yourself that wants to beat your chest and say, "Me, me, me!" Rather than pushing away the anxiety and fear of losing what you care about, let it come up and breathe into it. And when you're experiencing the hopelessness of actual loss, allow it in. Let yourself cry.

Stage Two: Self-Inquiry

Once you've felt your feelings, you'll need to process them through self-inquiry. To do this, start by probing the feeling space that the desire or grief or hopelessness brings up in your consciousness, perhaps naming it to yourself, and gradually breathing out the content, the story line. (It sometimes helps to talk to yourself for a while beforehand, to take care of the part of you that needs comforting. Remind yourself that you do have resources, recall helpful teachings, pray for help and guidance, or simply say, "May I be healed," with each exhalation.)

To begin the self-inquiry part of the process, bring yourself into contact with your inner witness. Then explore the energy in the feelings. As you go deeper into this energy, its knotty, sticky quality will start to dissolve—for the time being. In any process for working with feelings, it's important to find a way to explore your feelings that allows you both to be present with them and to stand a little aside from them.

Stage Three: Processing

In the third stage of detachment, you begin to become aware of what has been useful in the journey you've just taken, in the task or relationship or life stage you're working with, regardless of how it all turned out. The mother who came back after her son's birthday and thought, "At least I saw him," was experiencing one version of that recognition. Many of us reach the third stage of detachment when we realize that we have actually gained something, even if it's just a lesson in what not to do.

A young scientist I know spent two years on a career-defining study and was nearing a breakthrough when he picked up a journal one day and found that someone else had gotten there before him. He was devastated and lost his enthusiasm for his work. "My mind kept coming up with hopeless thoughts," he told me. "I'd find myself thinking, 'You're just unlucky; the gods of science won't ever let you succeed.' I didn't even want to go to the lab."

He learned to move through his hopelessness using a combination of tactics: mindfulness ("It's just a thought", talking back to it ("Things will get better!", and prayer. He told me he knew he'd begun to detach (the word he used, actually, was heal) when he realized how much he'd learned from the research he'd done, and how it would come in handy later.

Stage Four: Creative Action

The scientist will have reached the fourth stage of detachment when he's able to start something new with real enthusiasm for the doing of it, rather than out of the need to prove something.

Loss or desire can paralyze us, so that we find ourselves without the will to act or else acting in meaningless, ineffective ways. One of the reasons we take time to process is so that when we do act, we're not paralyzed by fear or driven by the frantic need to do something (anything!) to convince ourselves we have some degree of control. In the early stages of loss, or in the grip of strong desire, it is sometimes better just to do the minimum for basic survival. As you move forward in the processing, however, ideas and plans will start to bubble up inside you, and you'll feel actual interest in doing them. This is when you can take creative action.

Stage Five: Freedom

You've reached this stage when thinking about your loss (or the thing you desire) doesn't interfere with your normal feelings of well-being. Desire, fear, and hopelessness are deeply embedded in our psyches, and we feel their pull whenever any remnant of attachment exists. We know that we've begun to achieve real detachment in a situation when we can contemplate what's occurring without immediately getting blindsided by these feelings.

The fifth stage is a state of true liberation, which the sage Abhinavagupta describes as the feeling of putting down a heavy burden. It's no small thing. Every time we free ourselves from one of those sticky feelings, we unlock another link in what the yogic texts call the chain of bondage.

Detachment as Offering

Whether we're doing it daily or as a way of dealing with a big bump in our road, practicing detachment is easier if we do it with a soft attitude. I have a huge amount of respect for the Zen warrior approach to the inner life, the one in which you heroically renounce your weaknesses and tough out the hard stuff, perhaps using your sense of humor to give you the power to move forward. But when I try to detach in that way, it seems to lead to a kind of emotional deep freeze.

So instead, the way I ease myself toward detachment is to practice offering. I connect myself to the inner Presence (the Vedantic texts call it Being/Awareness/Bliss), and then I offer up whatever it is that I'm doing, whatever I'm intending or wanting, or whatever I'm trying to get free of. That's the time-honored method set forth in the Bhagavad Gita: Offer the fruits of your labor to God.

Every spiritual tradition includes some form of offering (and some form of God), but for detachment practice, the two most powerful ways to offer are to dedicate your actions and to turn over your fears, desires, doubts, and obstructions to the one Consciousness. Offering our actions helps train us to do things not for any particular gain or personal purpose but simply as an act of praise or gratitude, or as a way of joining our consciousness to the greater Consciousness. Offering our desires, fears, and doubts loosens the hold they have on us, reminding us to trust in the Presence—the source of both our longings and their fulfillment.

Here is what the practice of offering might look like.

First, call to mind the largest and most benign level of reality you can connect to—whether it is humanity, a particular teacher or divine form, a sense of oneness, or simply the great collective of the natural world: humans, animals, plants, the earth and air, the stars and planets and space itself. Or simply become aware of your own being, the Presence or energy that feels most essential to your life.

Once you've done this, bring to mind the action you're about to do or the outcome you're hoping to bring about. Mentally make an offering of it to the Presence. You can say something like, "I offer this to the source of all, asking that it be accomplished in the best possible way." If your issue is a strong attachment or something that disturbs you about yourself, your life, or someone else, bring it to mind and offer that. You might say, "May there be balance and harmony in this situation," or "May things work out for the benefit of all," or "May things work out according to the highest good."

If you care deeply about what you're offering—your desire for a particular relationship, or your wish for the well-being of yourself or of someone you love—you may notice that you're reluctant to let go of it. If that's the case, offer it again. Keep offering it until you feel a loosening of your identification with your hope, fear, desire, anger, or feeling of injustice. Whenever you feel the clutch of attachment, offer it again.

Once you've made the offering, let yourself linger in the feeling space you've created inside yourself. The nurturing force of the Presence is the only power that really dissolves fears and attachments. The more we get to know that vast, benign energy, the more we realize it is the source of our power and love. And that's when our detachment becomes something greater—not detachment from desire or fear but awareness that what we are is so large, it can hold all of our smaller feelings inside itself and still be completely free.
Logged

David Dare
******
Offline Offline

Gender: Male
What is your sexual orientation: Straight
What is your relationship status with them: broke up in 10-2009
Posts: 836


« Reply #1 on: December 28, 2010, 02:48:45 AM »

I read this article when the topic was posted and found it helpful.  I agree with the principal and mulled it over for the next few days.  Two things I realized:

1 - How important it is to actually try and maintain a healthy balance.  For so long I've just been going with the flow.  When I applied the theory in real time I found it to be very helpful.  It's gonna take some practice.

2 - After applying it and noticing the effects of detachment, I came to realize just how attached I'd become in the r/s with uBPDxgf.  I became so attached that, when coming out, virtually everything was a trigger for me.  Words, songs, feelings, everything!  That was a powerful  Idea for me.

Thanks for posting this article.
Logged
CalicoSilver
********
Offline Offline

Gender: Male
What is your sexual orientation: Straight
What is your relationship status with them: Married almost 30 years.
Posts: 2636


WWW
« Reply #2 on: December 28, 2010, 01:44:18 PM »

Good thoughts here. It strikes me as a synthesis of both Buddhist and Vedic philosophy - and the author's comprehension of the essence of their teachings.

The hyperlink returns a dead link, FYI.
Logged
qcarolr
Distinguished Member
*
Offline Offline

Gender: Female
What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Child
What is your relationship status with them: Married to DH since 1976
Posts: 4928



WWW
« Reply #3 on: December 28, 2010, 04:31:49 PM »

WOW - just what I needed today. Feeling good to give my BPDDD24 and her bf a motel room for 10 days as the weather turns so cold, hear their sincere thanks and we plan to pay you back without thinking HAH! when has that happened before, and accepting whatever opinion others have about this being 'enabling' without getting so caught up in that questioning of 'is this the right choice today?' They both still spend the day on the street with all their friends, eating at the homeless day center - nothing in their life is different. It just feels good to do this for them right now.

qcr
Logged

The best criticism of the bad is the practice of the better. (Dom Helder)
worn_out
***
Offline Offline

Gender: Female
What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Posts: 105


« Reply #4 on: December 29, 2010, 10:16:05 PM »

What a beautiful essay. I've admired Sally Kempton's writings for a long time. I loved what she said about preferring to have a "soft" attitude. Things go better for me when I allow myself to experience some slippage here and there. I've put up with so much diseased behavior from my BPD mother and other personality-disordered people in my life; this essay is a good reminder that cutting myself some slack is the best way to disengage from them in a healthy way.
Logged
qcarolr
Distinguished Member
*
Offline Offline

Gender: Female
What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Child
What is your relationship status with them: Married to DH since 1976
Posts: 4928



WWW
« Reply #5 on: December 29, 2010, 11:31:22 PM »

In fact, as is so often the case with the big issues of spiritual life, detachment involves a deep paradox. It's true that those without a lot of clutter in their lives have more time for inner practice. But in the long run, disengaging ourselves from family, possessions, political activism, friendships, and career pursuits can actually impoverish our inner lives. Engagement with people and places, skills and ideas, money and possessions is what grounds inner practice in reality. Without these external relationships, and the pressure they create, it's hard to learn compassion; to whittle away at anger, pride, and hardness of heart; to put spiritual insights into action.

So we can't use detachment as an excuse not to deal with fundamental issues such as livelihood, power, self-esteem, and relationships with other people. (Well, we can, but eventually those issues will rise up and smack us in the face, like an insulted ingenue in a 1950s movie.) Nor can we make detachment a synonym for indifference, or carelessness, or passivity. Instead, we can practice detachment as a skill—perhaps the essential skill for infusing our lives with integrity and grace.

This passage is what keeps coming back to my mind since I first read this yesterday. When I first moved to "take back my life" from my BPDDD, and got a restraining order while she was in jail so she could not come back to our home, I believed it was the only way to seperate myself from her. And maybe at that time this extreme measure was the only way. And yet I could not totally respect the no contact order - I petitioned for phone/text/letters - I dropped things off to her last winter while she was living on the street and it was below 10degrees during the daytime and so much colder at night (I prayed she chose to go to the shelter or waming location and found room there). And she survived and I survived and my dh and gd (we have custody, she was 4 at that time) survived. And now we are working toward a guarded relationship, she is again on her meds. and able to think in a nearly rational way, and still homeless tho very connected to her bf (they just celebrated being together for one year on the streets together) and their 'clan'. I have come so far in accepting her where she is on a day to day basis, and loving her regardless. The pain will always be there, I miss her with such sadness sometimes - there were some good times in our many years together as mother/daughter - and yet for today am suffering so much less.

I so appreciate all the mindfulness and radical acceptance influence of this site. Thanks to the staff or whoever is responsible for posting this article.

qcr
Logged

The best criticism of the bad is the practice of the better. (Dom Helder)
How do I do This?
***
Offline Offline

Gender: Male
What is your sexual orientation: Straight
What is your relationship status with them: Married 7 years
Posts: 213


WWW
« Reply #6 on: December 30, 2010, 08:38:29 AM »

Outstanding!
Logged
MikeL
***
Offline Offline

Posts: 105


« Reply #7 on: December 30, 2010, 04:36:01 PM »

It resonates so well with my situation!

Thank you.
Logged
Pema
***
Offline Offline

Gender: Female
What is your sexual orientation: Straight
What is your relationship status with them: married, Fall of 2010 (second marriage)
Posts: 129


« Reply #8 on: January 04, 2012, 07:02:47 AM »

I am day two on this site. Already I'm finding clarity and a sense of direction.

I practice Buddhism so this post hits home for me. I'm so thankful that mindfulness and consciousness are addressed here.

Something I'm focusing on recently is to remain in the gap. That empty place between thoughts. Especially now when my thoughts want to run rampant.

I feel it's best to not cling to any one narrative that is playing in my head.

I only do it to have something to cling to anyway. It allows a false sense of security to settle on any one story you can tell yourself. What if it's wrong? In my current state of confusion (although it is lifting now) I can't trust my own desperate conclusions.

Pema Chodron tells us in her book. WHEN THINGS FALL APART that it's a good idea hang out in groundlessness and allow the spaciousness. It can be a very scary place to be but I'm trying.

It seems to make sense to me.

You may notice my handle here is Pema, I feel I can borrow her strength until I can regain my own.

Thanks for posting. I will read this again and again as I move toward detachment.
Logged
qcarolr
Distinguished Member
*
Offline Offline

Gender: Female
What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Child
What is your relationship status with them: Married to DH since 1976
Posts: 4928



WWW
« Reply #9 on: March 27, 2013, 10:36:33 AM »

Do not remember being here in 2010 -- feel lost my way. When DD came back into our home in 2011 I stopped doing so much that was helping me while she was away. Need to start practicing letting go again from where I am now.

qcr
Logged

The best criticism of the bad is the practice of the better. (Dom Helder)
whatisthetruth

*
Offline Offline

Gender: Male
What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Posts: 47



« Reply #10 on: May 18, 2013, 03:41:48 PM »

Good article!

Wish I would've found this site a year ago... .    :'(

I am buddhist too... .  thinking about the commentary from Pema above... .  letting it sink in.

this is so hard

but reading helps

thanks to all
Logged
Pages: [1]   Go Up
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Links and Information
CLINICAL INFORMATION
The Big Picture
5 Dimensions of Personality
BPD? How can I know?
Get Someone into Therapy
Treatment of BPD
Full Clinical Definition
Top 50 Questions

EDITORIAL DEPARTMENTS
My Child has BPD
My Parent/Sibling has BPD
My Significant Other has BPD
Recovering a Breakup
My Failing Romance
Endorsed Books
Archived Articles

RELATIONSHIP TOOLS
How to Stop Reacting
Ending Cycle of Conflict
Listen with Empathy
Don't Be Invalidating
Values and Boundaries
On-Line CBT Program
>> More Tools

MESSAGEBOARD GENERAL
Membership Eligibility
Messageboard Guidelines
Directory
Suicidal Ideation
Domestic Violence
ABOUT US
Mission
Policy and Disclaimers
Professional Endorsements
Wikipedia
Facebook

BPDFamily.org

Your Account
Settings

Moderation Appeal
Become a Sponsor
Sponsorship Account


Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.21 | SMF © 2006-2019, Simple Machines Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!