Overcoming Neediness by Detaching

Overcoming Neediness by Detaching

Detaching with deliberation - overcoming neediness.
D is for Detaching from neediness

Overcoming neediness by detaching was a recent awareness I discovered. It came with the understanding that I was a fuser. Neediness was my attachment and detaching was the answer. How was I going to do this though?

The Cause – Overcoming neediness by detaching.

Solving neediness wa hard due to that fact that I discovered I was a fuser.  Now if you are a bit confused, so was I! It is logical, if you are fused, you need to detach. When it came to specific areas of my life though this tool was difficult to identify as neediness was not visible to me. I was not aware that ,once again, when I fused with a situation, it dropped me into that inevitable ‘in the hole’ state, refer to my blog http://lovinglylivelife.com/2019/03/05/a-hole-lot-of-living/. I needed to succeed by overcoming neediness by detaching.

What is a fuser and why do you need to detach?

According to Harville Hendrix there are fusers and Isolators and  his theory begins with the fact that we are all psychologically and emotionally damaged through childhood, even when we are brought up in a safe, nurturing environment. This is because we are complex, dependent creatures with a never-ending cycle of needs, that as parents, we fail to meet, no matter how hard we try. 

Fusers and Isolators – What causes neediness

He says that as children are going through the crucial stage of development some caretakers thwart their independence.


  For example depending on the caretakers response to the child moving away from mom, she/he will either feel safe and able to do this, knowing that mom is close at hand. A good way to handle this stage, however,   if mom instills fear in the child about the dangers that lurk away from her, the child is filled with fear stifling his/her natural autonomy creating a term Hendrix refers to as an ‘isolator’. 


Someone who keeps people at a distance, needs lots of space, who needs a lot of freedom to come and go and does not like being pinned down.  A fuser on the other hand, is perhaps told, “go away, I am busy, go and play with your toys, stop clinging to me”.  The child in turn grows up feeling abandoned.  This results in wanting to ‘do things together with others’ all the time.  They crave affection and reassurance, and need constant verbal contact.

Accepting that abandonment feelings

I am sure there are many other causes, but for this short blog, I am going to stick with just this one example.   As you can imagine, being a fuser puts a lot of unknown pressure on people who know me and events I could enjoy when I am alone, I didn’t. Hence, the need for me to understand detachment and how I was overcoming neediness by detaching.

Figuring out how to accept my abandonment feelings and detaching from those that were not serving any purpose by causing worry, obsessive thinking and fear was the answer. It also meant dealing with the need to be with others to prevent the abandonment feeling that would overpower me.

What is detachment and to overcome neediness

Melody Beattie says detachment is: “a releasing or detaching from a person or problem by mentally, emotionally, and sometimes physically disengage ourselves from problems we cannot solve.  

Detachment is based on the premise that each person is responsible for themselves, that we can’t solve problems that are not ours to solve, and that worrying does not help.  We allow people to be who they are, giving others the freedom to be responsible and grow as we give ourselves that same freedom.  Starting by living our lives to the best of our own ability, avoiding trying to change things we can’t and doing what we can and then forgetting about it. 

Try to live happily, focusing on the good in our life today and feel grateful for that.   It entails living in the now.  ‘Allow’ life to happen instead of forcing and trying to control it by relinquishing regret over the past and fear of the future, making the most of each day”.

Overcoming neediness by detaching – The cure

This was not an easy task as I could not just say, ok I am feeling needy therefore I am detaching.  Finding the process of detaching is almost like peeling an onion.   I had to  ‘dig deep’ and ‘become deliberate with my intentions’, as Brene Brown advises.  The determining factor was that stress is a huge contributor for developing the auto immune disease I have and although there are a number of factors according to Sarah Ballantyne, such as

  • Genetic susceptibility,
  • Infection and environmental triggers
  • diet and lifestyle, 

Stress is usually top of the list and  I needed to take a long hard look at how to stop the way I was dealing with my abandoned feelings and get solutions quickly before I did more damage to myself. Devising my three points to accomplish this week was as follows:-

Three tips of week

  1. Accept that I have abandonment issues caused by neediness and become deliberate with my intentions to overcome them by ‘digging deeply’.
  2. Grow my empathy and compassion with others and myself .
  3. Be aware of my need to control as a self protective mechanism.


“Detachment is not a cold, hostile withdrawal; long-suffering desolate  acceptance of anything life and people throw your way; stiltedly walking through life oblivious to and totally unaffected by people and problems; dodging true responsibilities to ourselves and others; a splitting of our relationships. Nor is it an elimination of love and concern”, according to Melody Beattie.

The abandonment feeling – overcoming neediness by detaching

When one grows up not knowing how to feel, it’s a real problem healing as  I did not know I felt abandoned, that I was needy or that it was something to overcome.   How does this occur when one is  surrounded by parents and friends at school, nor was I physically abandoned? It became clearer to me that the neediness was the outcome of the abandonment issues.  As you can imagine, this makes relationships rather tricky as no one is safe from the scrutiny of being an ‘abandoner’.  ‘Controlling’ steps became an ally and a means of self-protecting.   Solving the wretchness by detaching was first on the list.

The baby flight – conquering detachment

Waiting for my flight at the airport the other day I watched as a new mom, (holding her baby all clumsily flopping head and all) ask her friend to open a brand new packaged dummy. The friend popped in to her own mouth and then handed it to….. I turned away rather as watching was futile.

All my ancient baby mother instincts kicked into gear considering that possibly sterilizing the dummy in hot water for 5 minutes as the instructions state needed to be done! (I am a great instruction sheet follower, after all why put instructions on it if not to be followed). Or sterilise in a steriliser so that I did not have visions of the baby getting diarrhoea and dying foremost my mind – what about her neck – she would have a neck injury before 1 month old at least… Why was I so concerned about someone else’s child.

I knew I had to detach for the reason that becoming too involved in someone else’s life was becoming too much for me. Feeling fears that were not mine to feel and causing myself pain that was not mine to experience, also made me realise that she did not need my help as she would learn all these steps in her own time.

Yes, I do need to understand that there is a lot of suffering out there, but it is not totally my responsibility to save the world, however, I do the best I can with the tools I have, to get me through what I need to get through right now.

Detaching with deliberation - overcoming neediness
The star thrower

The Star Thrower – Letting go

  The fact that I cannot understand why we cannot stop human trafficking, rhino poaching or climate change immediately and with absolute conviction is a critical concern. It is very frustrating for me so finally I remembered the story of the one starfish in the sea, The Star Thrower, by Loren Eiseley, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Star_Thrower , whom I am sure you are all familiar with so if not I have given you the link.


I am called sensitive and according to Harville this is a term I give myself  to hide the fact that I am actually needy. No one likes a needy person, hence sensitive sounds so much more acceptable.  So what am I needing that makes me needy considering we all have needs and wants which when extreme, cause anxiety and a feeling of rejection?  Mine were simple things, such as a walk on the beach alone would become a moment of despair, because I had no one to share the moment with, leading to – life must be meaningless.  Contemplating this moment is the understanding that overcoming neediness by detaching was the answer.

Melody Beattie says:

  • “We don’t have to take things so seriously; ourselves, events and other people.
  • We don’t have to take other people’s behaviour or rejection as reflections of our self-worth.
  • We don’t  have to forfeit our peace.”

This made sense to me as  I was taking a walk on the beach way too seriously by putting too much emphasis on sharing the moment with others by interpreting it as an abandonment moment. I needed to overcome my neediness, start detaching and start living a life worth living.

Detaching from neediness

  • When I live with deliberate intention, I become aware that detachment is the solution so when I am feeling needy  by having a quiet time every morning and loads of self-compassion.
  • Living with empathy for others helps me work through issues so I try and identify with them, understanding that they are probably struggling just as much as I am.  Brene Brown uses the phrase ‘we are all doing the best we can’. Once I can see circumstances from another perspective I don’t feel so abandoned.
  • Brene says that compassion is more of a self-protection to either look for someone else to blame, or to shield ourselves by turning to judgment or fix-it mode. She goes on to say that compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded but rather a relationship between equals and compassion is real when we recognise our shared humanity.  These words helped me feel a little more connected to others in a positive way instead of a disconnected way.

Solving the Isolator – fuser complex

Comparing ‘isolator’ moments where I need plenty of space, and do not like being pinned down, to fuser moments where I need people all the time occcur regularly.   The understanding that these two different coping mechanisms are used to protect myself, helps me overcome them.  Detaching from the neediness allows me to see the situation for what it is, and so for that reason, if you are a ‘fuser’ or an ‘isolator’  this tool might be a good one to try.

LET GOD OVERCOME ALL – overcoming neediness by detaching

I am really good at trying to solve problems, so it may seem, as I give a large amount of my precious time up trying to solving them.  I ponder and ruminate and stay awake at night trying to find solutions. “I can do this”, I say to myself.  I want to solve the problem, even if I stay awake all night.  The next day is a struggle being exhausted from lack of sleep.  What a waste of a night and day and no problem solved.    Why do I want to do God’s job. I think he is perfectly capable of these tasks. After all he did create the universe and all that is in it. I think he can handle my problems with a little less stress than I can. My mom lived by this poem by Reinhold Niebuhr.

Detaching with Deliberatioon - Overcoming neediness.
I cross stitched this for my Mom.

God grant me the serenity

To accept the things I cannot change,

Courage to change the things I can,

And the Wisdom to know the difference.

Reinhold Niebuhr

Finally overcoming neediness by detaching

When I try to control people and life by trying to avoid any kind of crisis that might have the audacity to cross my path I feel, that at least, I did everything possible to prevent a negative outcome.  However, this is also exhausting.    I am learning that I cannot control life, others, climate change or any other event that occurs.  What I can do is ‘Let Go and Let God.    I don’t stop caring or loving, but I do stop taking too much responsibility for events that are beyond my control and allow God to do what God does best.   It is not easy and I do find myself having to let go time and time again.     But it’s a life in process, is it not?

Final thoughts

Detaching from needing too much from others is difficult. It is also complicated to know the difference between a normal need and an excessive need. Detaching from being too involved in the world becomes exhausting as we need to be involved, but not overextended. Living with God and trusting in Him gives some direction. It all comes down to taking responsibility of your own life, allowing others to take responsibility for theirs and “allowing” God to be God.

Next week I talk about Ego.  Let’s see how we can unpack something so huge into 4 pages.  Happy detaching week, with a dash of empathy, a smidgen of compassion and a lot of love thrown in for good measure. 

Ballantyne. S. 2013. The Paleo Approach, Reverse Autoimmune Disease and Heal Your Body. Victoria Belt Publishing inc.

Beattie, M. 1992. Codependent No More, How to stop controlling others and start caring for yourself. Hazelden Publishing Center City, Minnesota.

Brown, B. 2015. Rising Strong, If we are brave enough, often enough, we will fall. This is a book about getting up. Penguin Random House. UK.

Hendrix, H. 2008. Getting the love you want. A guide for couples.  Henry Holt and Company.

Van der Merwe, H. Clinical Psychologist.

4 thoughts on “Overcoming Neediness by Detaching

  1. Beautifully written Lesley with so much insight and wisdom. Thank you for sharing your personal journey. I know so many can relate….!!

    1. Hi Mari
      Thank you so much for the positive feedback. This was a tough one and hoping I can give some more feedback at a later stage. Kind regards and many blessings.

  2. Wow Les, you are an angel. Thank you for sharing this sensitive issue so well. I had no idea, but it makes sense. Too much to which I can relate. Lots of growing required here!! And interesting link to autoimmune diseases. #Thyroidexhaustion.

    1. Hi Andrea, As we travel along our journey of life, it is amazing how many people struggle, but because of shame, embarrassment of who knows what reason we do not share, however it is in the sharing that we discover that we are not alone and that heals, and a problem shared is a problem halved and so that heals. I read once that we are as sick as we are secret, I think it was John Powell who said that, I will check but that was my problem, I kept it a secret and became more ill. I will definitely check out your link to Thyroid exhaustion. I pray that your journey to healing is an exciting and fulfilling one and I am honored that I am part of it and that I may share it with you. Blessisng Andrea and thank you for sharing mine. I am privileged to have you as a friend.

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