“Try not to merely react in the moment. Pull back from the situation. Take a wider view; compose yourself.” – Epictetus
More than a thousand years ago, a man born into slavery earned his freedom, started teaching and proposed to his students that they enact one of my favorite thought exercises. It also happens to be one that I am often terrible at; detachment.
There is no better way at approaching a problem and finding the best possible solution than removing yourself from the situation and trying to get an objective point of view from the outside.
As anyone living who has ever encountered a difficult situation can attest to, it is often one of the most difficult things to do in the moment. Difficult situations have a way of grabbing your attention and narrowing your vision to only the parts of the problem right in front of you.
The next time you are faced with a difficult situation, conversation, or even a confrontation practice detachment by physically taking a step back from the space the situation is occurring in. Take several breaths, relax, and try to see the whole picture from as many angles as possible while you are breathing. If the situation doesn’t become clearer, repeat the process one more time.
This is a skill that requires practice and patience but when you get it right, it is worth every minute you have invested in it! Fortunately, life will provide plenty of opportunity for practice.
virtus fortis vocat