Taking a moment to ponder the notion of kindness typically evokes associations like generosity, acceptance, love, respect, goodness, compassion, tenderness, understanding, softness, gentleness, sympathy and so forth. What it doesn’t usually evoke though, is the concept of detachment. The concept of detachment (at least in my experience) tends to get a bit of a bad rap. It tends to be associated with coldness, being uncaring, aloof, disengaged, apathetic etc.
However, I am of the belief that detachment is the often missed element in the practice of kindness. To me, detachment signifies liberation, empowerment, trust, and underlies one’s ability to be fully present and engaged with another human being.
Detachment means doing away with the agenda, doing away with “you should” and ultimately doing away with the slight undercurrent of judgement that can often underlie expressions of kindness (with the best of intentions of course). Detachment means taking your personal investment out of your attempt to help a fellow human being. Because here’s the thing, when helping someone is laden with a pre-set agenda (i.e. “I know what will help them because I have been there before and they should listen to me”) it becomes about the needs of the helper not the needs of the one who is reaching out for help. It fosters a hierarchical dynamic in which the person reaching out for help may feel that he or she will disappoint, anger, or upset the one they have reached out to if they do not follow their advice.
Supporting someone from a detached stance allows the person to “just be” without being burdened by the additional weight of expectation. It’s about investing a sense of trust in the other person, and allowing space for them to “forge their own path” instead of providing the map for them. It’s about being a non-judgemental witness and companion on their unique journey, feeding their sense of power, inner strength and resiliency in the process. It’s no longer about fixing it for them, but about helping them uncover the internal resources they already possess. Helping someone from a detached stance then, shifts the helper’s focus from problem solving in the immediate sense, to becoming a vessel for the person’s empowerment in the long-term…and that is pretty powerful stuff, for it is through becoming mechanisms for one another’s personal expansion that we’ll begin to shift the consciousness of the planet, and create a kinder world.