To engage or not to that is a question?

‘You have to master the art of disengagement. You have to learn to detach!’ I was advised by a very wise family member when I was a young woman.

I must admit, being a heady mix of intense passion and raw sensitivity I have never mastered the art of disengagement. And on his advice I have failed miserably. Yet intrigued by the topic of detachment I have been compelled to ponder and question is it better to disengage or to engage?

Detachment throws a person into the mode of critic where observation becomes their main action. An aloofness comes from the over exercised intellect on a dry high ground above the push pull of chaotic emotions. To stand apart and away from the action is to watch and judge. To embody disengagement can be mentally satisfying but can start to dry the moist emotions of the heart. It is easy to think clearly and to judge the vulnerable and awkward others who put their heart on the line every moment. You can be pragmatic and clear as you work in the realm of unclouded thought distant to emotional distraction. Although the seductive safety of this position can draw many to this mode a real danger can be that the self can begin to fade within a prison of crusty thoughts starved of the liquid unevenness of raw feeling.

An advantage of detachment is the absence of emotional pain. If you detach from life you become numb and no longer feel the excruciating pain of life. But a disadvantage can be that your emotions dry up and you emotionally die a little every day.

Why then do so many chose the sterile ground of detachment?

Power, a sense of control and superiority over those who stumble and fall and fail risking it all to be real. A person can hide the fragile imperfect self behind a poker face of aloofness. If their heart breaks down or breaks apart they can hunker down behind the cool mask.

One can divert, delay, dismiss and go into denial of pain. But each day they grow more distant to the life blood of life and feeling.




Shrivel as life becomes blocked in a sanitized tomb.

Freeze, not burn inside the barren ice storm of non feeling.

A player now strutting and fretting on the wounded stage.

On the other hand engagement is immediate and raw and felt and is the child of courage and strength. To be our vulnerability is the greatest courage of all. Engagement is active and risky involving a struggle to integrate the heart and mind. It is messy and breaks the heart every day. It is moist and fertile and exposes us to our vulnerability and takes tenacity to sustain.

Engagement is hard and is giving and requires that the heart is open and curious. A heart that asks questions of others is a healthy heart. And it is vital for the feeling flow of creativity. It is worth dancing in the centre of the fire of life. Risking the burn to be utterly, completely, unabashedly alive.

I choose engagement every time – it is worth the risk and the raw!

© Anthea Slade 2011

8 June 2011

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To engage or not to that is a question? by 

Thoughts and musings on engagement and disengagement.

Written and uploaded on 8 June 2011

Creating art and writing is like breathing to me, it keeps me alive. If I stop creating my world shrinks and contracts. When I start to create again it expands and is filled with colour. I feel whole. To create is to be completely, unabashedly alive.

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  • eoconnor
    eoconnorover 3 years ago


  • Oh thank you dear Liz for reading my reflections on Engagement and Disengagement. Like you I have always chosen to engage because it is the only way to be truly alive, feel and create.

    – Anthea Slade

  • blamo
    blamoover 3 years ago

    Engagement is hard and is giving and requires that the heart is open and curious. A heart that asks questions of others is a healthy heart. And it is vital for the feeling flow of creativity. It is worth dancing in the centre of the fire of life. Risking the burn to be utterly, completely, unabashadely alive.

    I chose engagement everytime – it is worth the risk and the raw!

    Right on ………………GO with what you feel good with …………………..Thumbs Up ………

  • Yes indeed my friend Tone…it is definitely worthe risk and the raw to be engaged and fully in life. I am so happy you like this prose. Great to see you my friend.

    – Anthea Slade

  • autumnwind
    autumnwindover 3 years ago

    Yes, you have answered your own question truthfully and beautifully. It is the only choice for me. Cannot imagine it any other way. : )) XOXOXOXOXOXOXO

  • Me too Shar, it is the only choice for me. The only way to be truly completely alive. Thank you for your beautiful comment. I hope you are well my friend.

    – Anthea Slade

  • Roz McQuillan
    Roz McQuillanover 3 years ago

    Beautifully expressed, Anthea!! I too believe it’s worth all the risks to open oneself to all the possibilities! xx

  • Yes me too Roz. To keep an open heart no matter what happens is a way to remain completely alive. Thank you for your support and beautiful comment.

    – Anthea Slade

  • Anthea  Slade
    Anthea Sladeover 3 years ago

    Limerick thank you so much for the favourite of To engage or not to engage…now that is a question :)

  • RosaCobos
    RosaCobosover 3 years ago

    Dear Anthea,
    Your words seem to flow from direct experience and bit of information from really wise souls.
    I agree with you by complete. Lately I am devoted to learn more about “Archetypal Psychology”. James Hillman is considered like the “creator” of such kind of “school”..but he has learn from the ancient Greeks and from many others, finding that we have not a goal in our way of living as human beings, but being ourselves, and not loosing our “soul”, which is attached to “body”. Attachtment is intensly grown into our brain. It has saved the species and our lives all the time. It brings many pain and many blissful energy. It is diffcult to get ride of if, for even if we would deny our “human condition” wishing to get up high into the freezing Spiritual height, and we would crave so much for it, as to depart from our human companions to a mountain and be an anacoret, that would be an attachment to the soul, a sin that is named “superbia”, and that is making us to beleive that the “Archetypal of Spirit” is more important than that of the “Soul”, and so then…without noticing being attatched to it without being able to take a step back and really “seeing inside our Soul”

    As I see that you are so interested in these pondering, I would recommend to read something about Soul (The Hillman´s “Code of Soul” is a great book) and any of the books that Thomas Moore has written and will find your own being reflected upon such wisdom.

    You write “damnly well”, my dear friend, with a clear concept, and a rich and varied vocabulary. Besides, the question remains in the air, luring out expectation about “findind the answer”…which is can´t never be answered but lived fully and without “psychological mirages”.

  • Oh thank you dear Rosa, I love Archetypal Psychology and have read Thomas Moore Care of the Soul and other Jungian Psychologist. I will have to read the Code of Soul as you recommend. Thank you for this suggestion and this gorgeous thoughtful wise response. I gain such rich food for thought and reflection from your beautiful comments on my writing and art. I appreciate your comments so very very much my friend Rosa.

    – Anthea Slade

  • RosaCobos
    RosaCobosover 3 years ago

  • Thank you for inviting and accepting my writing into your wonderful Nivana Group.

    – Anthea Slade

  • Tony Ryan
    Tony Ryanover 3 years ago

    Hi Anthea,

    I agree that if I had to choose one it would be to engage. However many people have also advised me to be detatched. I think it comes down to balance. I always want to be fully open to feeling/sensing however in order to not self destruct I am trying to distance myself just a little. I beleive I can give love and support best when I am not overwhelmed by my sensitivity. So for me it is a continual process of being as aware as possible so that I ca stay open but not be burnt by getting too close to the fire.

  • Tony so beautifully expressed with such sensitivity and insight. Being ultra sensitive, means that I get hurt more, but when I feel detachment and disengagement knocking I feel as if my soul is freezing and shuting down. So I fight to keep myself always open and feeling. But I do understand what you say about always sensing and feeling. You can become overwhelmed and face burn out. It is as if you we need to develop another self to protect the softer, sensitive side of our natures. Your responses are always so knowing and wise. Thank you Tony.

    – Anthea Slade

  • Sherri     Nicholas
    Sherri Nic...over 3 years ago

    I suppose it would be nice to be ditached, but all the fun and good we would miss. love, life, friendship, pain they all kind of go together..When I was young..ohh I took hurts of others on my shoulders and hurt really bad for them. Since I got older I have so much compassion but diffierently .My heart still goes out to them but I try not to let it effect as much… I rather be a tear baby..hehe then some I know that are so aloof and nothing..but yet can that be reall ? Can it be that people are that no caring no love..I guess the world is full…again thats we get back to the same old thing..war..

  • Your comment is perfect Sherri. Being empathetic and compassionate by nature my heart can get hurt easily from people, for people and I feel so intensely. But like you I would rather keep my heart open and feel all my emotions then shutdown and lose my capacity to feel. I would rather cry, then feel numb and aloof. Life is not always neat and tidy it can break your heart but it is worth being alive and experiencing the whole spectrum. I do think it takes a lot of courage and active honesty to keep our heart open and feelings fresh and not be jaded. But it is worth it. It would be difficult to create art and beauty if our heart shut down. I love your comment so much Sherri, my dear beautiful friend. Thank you so much for writing this and supporting my writing and art. x

    – Anthea Slade

  • Sherri     Nicholas
    Sherri Nic...over 3 years ago

    pressed the buttonto quick..
    I meant to tell you also …what a wonderful write this is always are so profound and I can see you
    have lived a of many discoveries and your warm you understanding and your art is wonderful…your is
    totally indesciable…..
    Then have me..who has thoughts that are so profound and I am not able to put it in wordss just feelings.
    oh dear Anthea, I could on and on and yet I am saying things but it is not really coming out right you
    just keep writing for people that are not writers…and can appreciate your heart and soul thru you art of writing and
    wonderful images..whew..I am really sleepy and am leaviing for awhile..
    sherri:):) hugs my sweet friend!!

  • Sherri thank you so much for this beautiful encouraging comment and for your support of my writing. I appreciate so much your beautiful friendship and heart my dear friend Sherri. Have a beautiful weekend. I hope you are happy and very well.

    – Anthea Slade

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