The Superficial Self-Help Advice to the Lovelorn: Don’t Care So Much
I was listening to a self-proclaimed self-help “expert” today. His goal was to try to help those who have lost in love to remain psychologically whole or to become whole once again. The gist of his advice was this: Break the attachment so that you care less than the partner cares. This diminishes his or her power over you. When we attach to others, it is then that we are vulnerable to suffering. Detach and then you automatically will suffer less.
But the big questions for me on this advice are these:
Is suffering so bad that we cannot love others in a deep way?
Why view relationships in terms of power and then possessing the power as a way to heal?
Finally, is a world of detachment meaningful and purposeful compared to the healthy attachment of genuine love and service to the other?
Suffering is not to be avoided at all costs. If there were no ways out of suffering and if suffering crushed all of us all the time, then this would be different. Yet, we all can grow through suffering by becoming more patient, more mature in our character, and more sensitive to the suffering in others. Suffering is not the enemy. No, suffering should not then be sought, but when it comes, there are solutions and one of them is to practice forgiveness.
Are relationships defined primarily by power? If so, then both partners are missing out on one of the richest, most beautiful experiences on this earth: to step outside of a predominant self-interest to the kind of love that serves and in the serving gives joy. All of this likely is missed by too many who view the world from a power lens because power is intent on dominating, not serving. When was the last time you saw true joy on the face of someone who dominates?
Detachment in the name of avoiding suffering is to play it safe. It is like taking your $100 and putting it in the ground so that you avoid losing it. If, instead, you are not detached in this world and take the risk of investing that $100 it could grow where you can help others. Detachment is passive and ultimately joyless.
Don’t care so much? No thanks. I’ll take risks and see love as a way to serve. In that service there may be suffering, but joy is likely eventually to grow. I will take joy over safety every day of the week.