I’m not even sure how to begin this, but here it goes.

In coaching, not judging others or their actions is an integral part of the process. Once clients become aware of the extent that judgment affects their lives, they can begin to make changes in how they view themselves and the world around them. The results are life-changing,

So what do we do when a person we love makes a choice that we see as damaging and potentially life-threatening?

In a recent situation involving a close relative, I found myself conflicted. Seriously conflicted. Thankfully, I had my coach training and personal coaching to help me through this difficult time.

A close relative was diagnosed with an illness that had progressed significantly but was treatable. This relative and other family members made the decision to treat the disease with alternative medicine.

When the relative shared her intentions with me, I told her that I supported her decision as this was her personal journey. I truly felt from the bottom of my heart that it was her choice. I fully supported her decision to approach her life and what might be her final days on earth in any way she felt was right for her.

Almost immediately after beginning the alternative treatment, she began to show significant side effects. It was clear to me that the treatment was not effective, and in fact, appeared to be hastening her condition. She remained committed to this course of treatment and before long was admitted into hospice care, and passed away.

Whew. Ok, I know this is heavy stuff, and I usually make it a point to write uplifting and inspirational content. Sadly though, life does not always provide rainbows and unicorns.

Death. Disease. Crime. Tragedies are an inevitable part of life.

It’s how we deal with these situations that can save us or break us.

The best option at this point is to engage in detached involvement.

Understanding and practicing this approach enables a person to cope and begin the road to healing.

You may recall that there were discussions of detached involvement in past newsletters. Essentially to practice detached involvement, you still love and care about the person, but you remove your judgment and attachment to the outcome.

So, how is it possible to watch a loved one suffer and know that her death is imminent?  We have to let go of control. We want so desperately to control the outcomes of so many things in our lives. We strive to control our children’s futures, our spouse’s behavior, the traffic, and how other people choose to live their lives.

It’s difficult to relinquish control, especially if we feel that another person’s behavior is harmful. We can try to communicate that we feel their behavior is destructive or harmful, and if they reject our interventions, we have a choice: (1) argue, get angry, create divisions, or (2) accept, and detach from the outcome. That means letting go of control. We have to tell ourselves that it is not our journey, and they have the right to make their own decisions, even if they may lead to undesired outcomes.

Yes, this is much easier said than done. Interestingly, some people do this instinctively. Most of us have to practice it. The beautiful part of this approach is after we successfully and authentically detach, we realize that is where peace exists. We are no longer struggling to control outcomes that are beyond our control. Boundaries are created between ourselves and the decisions of others. At this point, we are able to release anger and anxiety. Doesn’t this sound like a nice place to be?

Want more information about how to release control and practice detached involvement? Contact Arlene and begin your journey.

(3) Comments
  1. Thank you. As you said is not an easy to take a step back and let people that we love make their own decisions without trying to take control. We need to learn to respect and accept thing that hurt us or our love ones.

  2. Very timely. I’m trying so hard to detach from multiple things happening in my life that I cannot fix and learn to do just what you said. Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  3. You are so right about the peace that exists in letting go of the desire to control! I sometimes lie to myself and call it “helping them out”. Ha! I’ve had to use detached involvement with one of my adult children. It was far from easy, but when I finally let go of the desire to warn of the train wreck headed their way, I felt peace. It was amazing! When the inevitable happened, I only said, “I’m so sorry that you’re hurting. I am here for you…” They picked up the pieces and are on their way to healing! Nice article, Arlene and again, I am so sorry for your loss.

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