Healthy Detachment

Diane worked for a venture capital firm with a highly toxic environment. Over time her health was seriously affected. She realized that she needed to step back and stop getting worked up over things she had no control over. That’s when she began thinking about how she was going to leave the company. One day she came across an article that prompted a career change. She quit her job and never looked back. Today she is a business owner with adoring clients and doing good in the world.

It’s very hard to think clearly and make choices that are of the highest order when your emotions are roiling. Instead of trying to control your emotions, what works really well is to distance yourself from the cause of those emotions. In order for Diane to get out of her constant state of distress, she had to “step back” mentally and energetically from the source.

I am a passionate advocate for consciously feeling your emotions. Stuffing them never works. Your emotions are sending you a message you need to hear. But it is up to you to be in charge of them. With SO MUCH going on in the world now, the ability to disengage from harmful people and difficult circumstances is essential for optimal empowerment and ultimate change.

There is a subtle, simple tool that can make a huge difference…healthy detachment. This is the sweet spot between denial and overwhelm. Where you are totally aware of what’s going on, aware of your emotions, but you choose consciously not to engage in ways that drain you. It is not passivity or a head-in-the-sand attitude. Rather, it is an active choice of utilizing your values, self-worth and self-esteem to set a boundary as to what you will take into your body and psyche.

Setting a Boundary

In order to practice healthy detachment, you need to set boundaries. Closing the door or turning off the TV is not enough. You must keep the energy of what triggers you out of your personal space. You can do this with two of the most powerful tools you have – your intention and your imagination.

This can most easily be demonstrated in an exercise I teach my clients and students in my Emotional Agility course.

Using your imagination, close your eyes and picture sitting across from you a person that triggers you. Pay attention to body sensations and the emotions that come up. Stay present with them.

Then, imagine a fence between you and that person. It can be any kind of fence that is high enough to cover their body, but not their face. Set your intention to pull the energy you have expended on this person back into your space.

Detach from this person, become an observer. Notice how you feel now. Finally imagine that person backing away, as if on a conveyer belt, until they disappear. Notice how you feel.

Take Charge of Your Experience

Boundaries are not only for keeping things out, they create a space in which you can more easily access your highest level of intelligence and creativity. Healthy detachment opens up awareness and draws opportunity. Stop investing emotional energy into things that you can’t control. Take action on what you can, including your own experience.

If we have any hope of coming together as a country and a global community, we will need to learn how to manage our own reactions to things so that we can see beyond the surface. This also goes a long way in making other people feel safer and less defensive.

For more tips and tools, go to and signup for a free video and the first chapter of my book, Emotions: An Owner’s Manual.