20 July 2008

More on Detachment

As I stated in my previous post, detachment is an important antidote to groupthink. This is because it preserves your awareness as a separate entity from the group process.

Groupthink, after all, is a 'herd' phenomenon. It naturally follows that anything that allows you to remain on the perimeter of the herd, so to speak, will give you more of an opportunity to see - and thus be able to resist - groupthink. One must be operating as oneself, rather than as part-of-the-group. [This, sadly, explains why 'scapegoats', if bright and motivated, frequently have a very accurate understanding of the group that is scapegoating them. As scapegoats, they are pushed to the perimeter of the group by the group itself. Thus the group itself pushes them out of the groupthink state.]

It is not necessary to feel 'superior to the group' in order for detachment to work. Nor is it necessary to feel pity for the group. In fact, either of these responses is potentially dangerous; feelings of superiority can lead to contempt and condescension; pity can lead to inappropriate efforts to rescue or 'get through to' the group as a whole or to individuals who are still enmeshed in groupthink. In either case - acting from superiority or from pity - the results can be disastrous.

No emotional reaction to the group is needed at all, in order for detachment to work. In fact, the best emotional response to groupthink is no emotional response. Neutrality. That is, after all, the state of true - emotional - detachment.

At this point, you should be aware of a Groupthink Red Flag. Opposition to / disdain for detachment, when it is actually being practiced [as opposed to being talked about and admired in the abstract], is a major red flag. If you think about the detachment I've described above and in the previous post, it is - really - nothing more than Mindfulness. Paying attention to the here-and-now, IN the Here And Now. Setting aside emotional reactions to What Is, and Letting It Be, but also Seeing It Accurately As It Goes By.

It can be fascinating to watch someone who ostensibly advocates for these selfsame things - in theory, from a position as Groupthink Guru - react to them when they actually encounter them in practice...... being practiced by someone other than themselves... ...with regard to themselves / their group. You may hear phrases like 'humorless', 'living in your head', 'all-head-no-heart', etc. These are, of course, attempts to shame you into surrendering your detachment and re-submitting to the group, or, more honestly, to the Groupthink Guru who is shaming you.

When you hear these phrases, pay very close attention. Nobody who is genuinely committed to your emotional welfare and development will shame you for being able to detach! Only those who profit from your remaining enmeshed will try to drive you back to enmeshment.

Only those who have a vested interest in your remaining confused and easily controlled will speak against your ability to identify and separate yourself from the emotional processes that lead to control and confusion.

Next: Prerequisites for Detachment -- More on Inner-Directedness!

[& a teaser for the spiritually inclined: to be 'in the world but not of it' ... is to be ... ? :-) ]

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