Etiquette Hell

A Civil World. Off-topic discussions on a variety of topics. Guests, register for forum membership to see all the boards. => Time For a Coffee Break! => Topic started by: Amara on December 21, 2012, 05:51:43 PM

Title: How to "not care"?
Post by: Amara on December 21, 2012, 05:51:43 PM
In the "traveling pies" thread, the OP talked about the power of not caring. I could really use this in several areas of my life, the ability to truly not care. I don't want to cut off the people or the situations, but I would love to know how you achieve that "not caring" level while being polite and nice. How can I stop getting so upset?
Title: Re: How to "not care"?
Post by: otterwoman on December 21, 2012, 06:23:54 PM
I'll ask myself how much 'topic' really effects my life. If it doesn't, then I can just let it go.

Example: my BFF has a louse for a husband. He doesn't work, belittles her when he can, spends them into debt. I care about her, and used to get upset on her behave. However, I have realized that she picked him and chooses to stay with him. So, now I don't care about it. It doesn't affect my life. I can listen to her complain and ask what she plans to do about it, but I am dettached.
Title: Re: How to "not care"?
Post by: bonyk on December 21, 2012, 06:34:46 PM
I think it has to do with surrendering control.  In the post you mentioned, the OP realized that her SIL was throwing a hissy fit.  She also realized that there was nothing to do to stop it.  So why not eat pie and be happy? 

I have a situation in which I've stopped caring.  Basically, I now expect this person to be unreasonable and obnoxious, and I know I cannot change it.  So when they expected happens, I just nod my head and say, "Yeah, that seems about right."  Honestly, I've never been happier.
Title: Re: How to "not care"?
Post by: chibichan on December 21, 2012, 06:37:09 PM
I do it asking myself these questions :

Does my getting upset over other people's behavior / situations ever change or help those behaviors / situations ? Usually , the answer is No .

Am I obligated to fix another person's bad behavior or situation ? Same answer .

If I accept that these people / situations are out of my control , what does caring do except upset me ? Usually nothing .

Do I want to care about this ?

At some point , I realized how powerless I was to "help" certain people . They certainly didn't think they needed any help . They thought they were perfectly fine , Thank-You-Very-Much .

The only thing they wanted to hear from me was " Of course , you are completely right ."

Anything less than that got me an endless lecture why I should see things their way .

There is nothing wrong with caring , but there are degrees of caring . I care about world hunger . I try to help where I can , but I will not be able to end it by myself  . I do not let this drive me to despair .

You can do this ! Resolve to make your life more peaceful . Caring is good . Caring about things you cannot change is futile .

Title: Re: How to "not care"?
Post by: JenJay on December 21, 2012, 06:52:28 PM
For me, it started with realizing that someone's bad behavior toward me wasn't a reflection of me, what I deserved, how anyone felt about me, etc., it just meant that the person had some issues and they were incapable of treating me kindly. I spent some time really thinking on that until I got to a place of "How sad for them. How lonely and unhappy they must feel. I'll make sure that never happens to me!" When you feel like something is being done to you it's very upsetting. When you realize it's about the weaknesses of the person who's doing it, it puts it into the right perspective.

Imagine the hurtful behavior as a pebble the person has thrown. It feels like they're throwing it AT you, right? Try imagining that they are a big, unhappy lake. You are standing on the shore. The pebble isn't thrown at you, it's dropped, and becomes just another pebble of unhappiness adding to the sandy bottom of their lake. It makes a ripple that laps at your feet, but that's all it is.

Sorry if that sounds kinda hokey. It helps me to visualize things like that.  ;)
Title: Re: How to "not care"?
Post by: Deetee on December 21, 2012, 07:29:08 PM
I found it helps to think about things that I should care about. Not caring is great, but has to be directed towards something that is not important. I find that when I am busy with other things that I do and should care about, it's really easy to ignore stuff when I busy with important stuff.
Title: Re: How to "not care"?
Post by: Optimoose Prime on December 21, 2012, 07:42:14 PM
I really can't tell you how to not care.  There comes a time or a situation where you are just tired of putting your energy into caring about whatever it is.
Title: Re: How to "not care"?
Post by: Lynn2000 on December 21, 2012, 07:46:11 PM
Interesting question. For me, it was something I had to willfully bring about and practice to achieve. Even now I wouldn't say I'm 100% perfect at not caring when I shouldn't, but I think I'm better at caring for a second, then letting it go. If you see the difference there.

My thing is, I'm kind of reserved, and I've had to work at expressing the emotions I want people to know about--like excitement at a gift, for example. I've found that if I speak and act on the outside like I feel something, I often eventually truly feel that way on the inside as well. So if the issue is, say, a friend keeps winding you up about the drama in her life but refuses to actually take healthy steps to end it--next time she talks to you about it, practice acting like you aren't that interested, and eventually you may find that you really aren't that interested, and can think about other strategies like changing the subject.

Also, I like to "take a step back" and think about how and why the person is telling me something. Like, are they just trying to get a reaction out of me? Are they trying to get attention or blow off steam? What do they want me to say/do in response? (And do I want to say/do that?) Once I had a co-worker who always told me about all this drama in her life, these bad boyfriends she kept having, and she relayed it so quietly that it took me a long time to realize she was a drama queen who wanted attention for these stories and bad choices--then one day I overheard her telling the same story to three different people, and feeding off each one's shocked reaction. Then I realized why she was really doing this, and I stopped showing or, eventually, feeling much interest in the troubles she brought on herself.
Title: Re: How to "not care"?
Post by: MorgnsGrl on December 21, 2012, 08:03:49 PM
For me, it started with realizing that someone's bad behavior toward me wasn't a reflection of me, what I deserved, how anyone felt about me, etc., it just meant that the person had some issues and they were incapable of treating me kindly. I spent some time really thinking on that until I got to a place of "How sad for them. How lonely and unhappy they must feel. I'll make sure that never happens to me!" When you feel like something is being done to you it's very upsetting. When you realize it's about the weaknesses of the person who's doing it, it puts it into the right perspective.

Imagine the hurtful behavior as a pebble the person has thrown. It feels like they're throwing it AT you, right? Try imagining that they are a big, unhappy lake. You are standing on the shore. The pebble isn't thrown at you, it's dropped, and becomes just another pebble of unhappiness adding to the sandy bottom of their lake. It makes a ripple that laps at your feet, but that's all it is.

Sorry if that sounds kinda hokey. It helps me to visualize things like that.  ;)

I just wanted to say I think this is awesome advice, and if I have any sense I'll print it out and carry it around with me as a reminder.  :D
Title: Re: How to "not care"?
Post by: guihong on December 21, 2012, 09:27:38 PM
For want of a better word, it's not that you stop caring, but you don't allow other people and their actions to ruin your serenity.  You can care, and even love someone who does destructive things, but refuse to allow them to spoil your peace.  Even if they don't do anything directly to you, by caring and loving too much and getting out of balance, you're not being loving to yourself.

More than once on this board, I've heard the advice to "watch who gets to live rent-free in your mind". 

What brings me peace (well, I get upset, but I come back to this) is the realization that my emotional reaction won't change the situation.  That it's presuming that I have so much control over other people that I can change anyone else other than myself.  And, nobody is doing something "to me"; they're choosing to act from wherever they are.
Title: Re: How to "not care"?
Post by: yokozbornak on December 21, 2012, 09:35:20 PM
I have learned that I can't care about another person's situation more than they do.  That has helped me stopped putting emotional energy into people who can't or won't change their situation.  That has meant that I have had to leave some people behind (i.e. cutting them off) because they will dump their problems on me if I'm around.  It also means that I am not watching them self destruct in front of my eyes which is very freeing. It's not that I don't care about the person, but I can't do for them what they aren't willing to do for themselves.  I can love them, but I can't take responsibility for their actions.

I also think there are toxic people (like the SIL in the pie thread) who thrive on drama, and you can't feed the drama llama (especially pie!).  You seriously can't care what someone like that thinks or does because it just adds fuel to the fire.  I always say you can't reason with crazy. 
Title: Re: How to "not care"?
Post by: PastryGoddess on December 21, 2012, 09:35:37 PM
Its not about the "caring" for me, its about the energy.  I simply refuse to put energy towards people or situations that I can't change or that don't directly involve me.

As you go along it gets easier, but at first I had to consciously redirect my thoughts away from the situation/person that was causing me so much stress.  If it was something that I should care about, I would have to confront it and deal with it.  But usually I found myself a lot happier and less stressed once I stopped focusing on the issue/person.
Title: Re: How to "not care"?
Post by: JennJenn68 on December 21, 2012, 09:38:33 PM
For me, it generally means that someone has crossed The Line.  Once it's crossed, there's no going back.  When I was younger, The Line was miles and miles away.  Now that I'm in my forties, The Line is very close to me, sometimes only inches away, and I've decided that there are certain people that, in the words of Ria Parkinson from "Butterflies", "must go".  Oddly enough, some of those people I'm still able to interact with, on occasion--I just never believe a single word they say, and keep my mouth shut and keep my own counsel. 

It helps to remember that if a toxic person sees you react badly (anger or hurt), that person has "won", at least in his or her own mind.  The key, I find, is to never let it show.  The more practice one gets at hiding anger and feelings of hurt, the more they seem to just drain away until one is left with a vague feeling of, "What a piece of work that person is.  Why did I ever get worked up about him/her?".

Oh, and one of the other things I decided?  Other people are responsible for their own situations.  I might think that someone is being treated abominably by or being taken advantage of by someone who should not be doing so--but I always remember that nobody can take advantage of me without my tacit permission, and the same is true of other human beings.

I guess I sound cold.  I'm not; I just limit the pool of those who are allowed to draw on me now.  Until I made these changes, I was being sucked dry by every passing leech.  Now I have so much more energy for the people and things that really count!
Title: Re: How to "not care"?
Post by: Silversurfer on December 21, 2012, 10:04:34 PM
There is a blurb under a goddess card (i think its Ishtar from memory) that i have sticky taped to my monitor at work.
It says "Love your self enough to say no to others demands on your time and energy".

This is what i tell my self when i know i need to to not care about a situation. It sounds selfish, but you have to look after yourself to keep happy - including exercise, eating etc, but also inculding who and what you worry about (or spend your time and energy on).

So when i am faced with a situation, i often think if i need to care about it or not. Sounds harsh, but works!
Title: Re: How to "not care"?
Post by: Octavia on December 22, 2012, 05:07:18 AM
My breakthrough came from reading the following quote by Katharine Dunn - "Women who pay their own rent don't have to be nice." It's in the same vein as what some of the other posters have said - the person with the power doesn't have to care as much. And self-reliance is power. I make it clear to people that the only reason they are in my life is because I want them there, not because I need them. It's my choice.
Title: Re: How to "not care"?
Post by: RubyCat on December 22, 2012, 09:16:01 AM
There is so much wisdom here!

I first experienced the lightness of not caring as a teen.  My mother was a difficult woman (and perhaps I was a challenging teen...)  For many reasons,there was constant tension in the house but I could never understand why, when my mother was angry with me, instead of feeling bad, I was relieved and happier.  Took me a while to figure out that keeping her happy was impossible and not having to care about trying was liberating. 

There are few situations in which I truly "don't care."  I have more success with caring less.  I have changed the way I look at many situations. 

I think, over time, I've come to realize that I have a limited amount of time and energy.  I try to let go of situations where I'm spinning my wheels and instead focus on what I can do. 

I try to minimize my time with people who suck the energy right out of me with drama, manipulation, meanness.  Far too often, it takes me a while to figure why I always feel bad after spending time with them but after that, my guard goes up.  Of course being on guard all the time is draining in itself, so minimizing exposure is important for me.

I have to respect others' right to make their own choices even if I do not agree with them so long that it doesn't effect me.  E.g.  I raised my children to know right from wrong and how to get along in polite society but now that they area grown, I need to respect that.  (Doesn't mean that I don't try to guide them, though...)  It's the same with some of my clients.  I have seen some of them make what are, in my professional opinion, very bad choices.  I have no right to tell them how to live their lives and have to let it go.  (Often easier said than done).

Sometimes pity is a useful tool.  E.g: My friend used to go nuts over the antics of her ex-husband and his new wife.  She finally got to the point where she could see that her ex is, has been, and always will be a bitter, unhappy person and his acting out is just a symptom of that.  It helps to put his actions in perspective.

There more I think about it, very often I think it is less "not caring" and more having appropriate personal boundaries.  So long as I feel I have done the right thing, I can be at peace with most situations.  The trick is knowing what is "the right thing."  Having come from a family that did not encourage healthy boundaries, this site has helped me tremendously in learning to gauge what are reasonable and unreasonable expectations.
Title: Re: How to "not care"?
Post by: cicero on December 22, 2012, 12:26:43 PM
I don't think you are looking to *not care*. I think it's more about taking control over *your* life, about prioritizing what you *do* care about, where you put your energy.

I can't say what will work for you or what won't.

for me- years ago i was a doormat, i was an angry frustrated person who tried to cover up with jokes and sarcasm. I had a strong need to to please, to make things right, to cover up for others' bad behavior, always finding excuses for everything. then i got sick.  my then-husband... well, let's say he continued to be who he is, putting himself first,thinking about himself only. I decided then and there that (a) I was going to get well and (b) I was goiing to change my priorities in life. and i did. sometimes i have to stop myself from stepping in, from trying to solve others' issues, but I just stop and ask myself "do i need to be doing this, do i want to do this"

I don't think that it's that I dont' care - i DO care. But I stopped giving out my power.

Title: Re: How to "not care"?
Post by: Hmmmmm on December 22, 2012, 12:40:15 PM
For me, caring in regards to relationships has to do with my willingness to move away from the relationship.

I won't a good relationship with my husband, my kids, my good friends, so I care how my actions effect them or how they perceive my actions or words.  But when you are in a relationship that brings no value to you is when you need to decide if your willing to move away from the relationship. 

In the original OP, the couple were not getting any be fit from a relationship with the sister so I think they wisely have agreed they are willing to forgo the relationship which allows them to say "oh we'll, one less gift we need to worry about next year." 

With any relationship, you have to ask how will my life be different without this person in my life?
Title: Re: How to "not care"?
Post by: Bethalize on December 22, 2012, 12:52:29 PM
Detachment is a valuable and healthy thing to have. I spent a long time learning the limits of my responsibility - after all, I was brought up hearing messages about how we had to strive to be perfect, to put others before ourselves, to do good, to help people. Sadly, no one said that enabling people is not helping, and that you can't care about something in someone else's life more than they do themselves. I learned that much later on in life.

I used to think that if you could do something to make someone happier you should do it. I now know that aside from little things such as treats most people don't want that. They want to make their own lives.

Also, I found that people are damaged. Fix a problem for them and they won't use it as a jumping off point, they'll stay there until the situation degrades again until worse than it was when you intervened. You have to let them change. You should not do anything for an adult they should be able to do themselves. I had to accept that you have to allow that everyone else is a capable, rational adult who can make their own choices and run their own lives. Therefore, I should back off and stop making it about me.
Title: Re: How to "not care"?
Post by: Softly Spoken on December 22, 2012, 01:27:13 PM
I hate to trot out that old cliche Serenity Prayer but, as other PPs have noted, it often really comes down to it.

Google the psychological concept of "radical acceptance".  ;D

I don't remember where I learned this but it helps: a worry is something you can do nothing about and is therefore a waste of thought and emotion/energy, a concern is something you can do something about and can therefore empower you to take steps to deal with it. A lot of people waste time worrying, or mistake a worry for a concern. Care about concerns. ;)

You can't change the world but you can change how you respond to it.

I am floating in a blissful sea of "not caring" about Christmas right now, because I realized it isn't my job (or even remotely possible) to 'fix' the family dynamic. Some would say I'm selfish, I say I'm sane. I'm drawing back to a healthy distance, because being upset about what other people are doing/not doing/expecting me to do was getting me nowhere. I refuse to let other people's drama drag me in.

Bed, made, lie. Period.

I am a very caring person, but that doesn't mean I have to be a doormat to those who don't care. It's called having boundaries.

Fight for what you care for and what you can control.
Title: Re: How to "not care"?
Post by: happygrrl on December 22, 2012, 01:36:32 PM
You can't change the world but you can change how you respond to it.

I am floating in a blissful sea of "not caring" about Christmas right now, because I realized it isn't my job (or even remotely possible) to 'fix' the family dynamic. Some would say I'm selfish, I say I'm sane. I'm drawing back to a healthy distance, because being upset about what other people are doing/not doing/expecting me to do was getting me nowhere. I refuse to let other people's drama drag me in.

Bed, made, lie. Period.

I am a very caring person, but that doesn't mean I have to be a doormat to those who don't care. It's called having boundaries.

Fight for what you care for and what you can control.

Brilliant! Absolutely spot on!

I have spent countless hours trying to deal with my MIL, who is a martyr-ing drama-lama. She wallows in her self-made misery, and over the years, I've tried to "fix" it (what ever "it" was at the moment), and have had no sucess. All it did was make me unhappy, and one day, after hearing XXXXXXX for the fourteenth billion time, something snapped in me, and I emotionally walked away. And never looked back.

I do care----but I can not devote anymore of my limited energy to trying to solve/fix/make better a situation that I didn't create, and do not nurture.
Title: Re: How to "not care"?
Post by: Sharnita on December 22, 2012, 02:24:30 PM
I think at first maybe you fake it until you make it.  They say that when you smile even though you don't feel happy your spirits will lift some.  I think that faking it can also work some with the "not caring" thing.
Title: Re: How to "not care"?
Post by: Mikayla on December 22, 2012, 02:37:24 PM
I love some of these ideas!  Me, I keep things simple, and the serenity prayer is my go-to option:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.

It's amazing how often I say this to myself.
Title: Re: How to "not care"?
Post by: Allyson on December 22, 2012, 05:01:08 PM
With some things, training yourself to 'not poke the wound' is hard, but it's often the first step. I have a coworker who will watch upsetting videos of things that happen in the real world, and get really sad, to the point of crying, about it. It can be pretty awkward for everyone, as she can also imply that i 'don't care' about the victims of X tragedy. It's not that I don't feel that it's sad, but...there is so much suffering and awfulness in the world. I used to lie awake and night and cry about things like war and famine. I don't want to do that anymore, so I avoid really upsetting news stories. It might seem apathetic but..I can't do anything. I would rather focus on things I *can* fix.

that goes with friends and small things too. Can I do something to help my friend? Then I will. But I will not keep putting myself in a situation that makes me unhappy and where I am not effecting any changes. At some point, I have to stop poking it. So I will pull back from friends who cancel on me at the last minute with excuse after excuse. It's not that I think these people are awful, but the overall effect of us interacting is negative.

Also, I remind myself 'it's really not about me' and 'don't attribute to malice what is explained by stupidity/ignorance'. The people I see who really really work themselves up about other people's behaviour tend to assume malice. They say things like 'I'm not naive!' or 'they think I'm stupid' when talking about someone doing something like, oh, calling in sick to work. Or being rude/inconsiderate in a minor way. It's very likely this person isn't going out of their way to be mean or a bully. They probably didn't think about it. Which isn't always an excuse, but it's a lot harder to get worked up about, too.
Title: Re: How to "not care"?
Post by: artk2002 on December 22, 2012, 07:47:38 PM
For me, the first step is in learning to be comfortable with myself. Knowing that I've made the right choices for myself and my family means that someone else's comments mean far less to me. I learned a lot as a youth soccer referee. In that job, no matter what I do, somebody's going to be unhappy with the decisions I make. They're more than welcome to think I'm the worst referee in the world. It's my gift to them.

The second step is knowing who really matters, and on what subject they matter. My wife matters to me a great deal on many subjects. The stranger in the supermarket who got snarky when I didn't move fast enough? Doesn't matter at all.

Finally, here's some imagery that I've used here before: I am the cat.

We have two indoor cats and a bunch of squirrels who live in the trees right outside of the house. When the cats sit in the window to get some sun, one of the squirrels goes nuts. Chittering and jumping up and down on the branch -- clearly threatening the cats. The cats, safe in their feline superiority may glance at him with a little curiosity, but otherwise ignore him. His chittering and jumping just don't make a difference to them.

Be the cat.
Title: Re: How to "not care"?
Post by: FauxFoodist on December 22, 2012, 10:35:36 PM
I find that when I am busy with other things that I do and should care about, it's really easy to ignore stuff when I busy with important stuff.

This is what has made it much easier for me to compartmentalize.  I used to absolutely big-time obsess about EVERYTHING that would bother me.  I could feel it eat me up inside and couldn't focus on anything else.  Sometime in the past four years, I stopped doing that, and I really couldn't say what helped.  Maybe because I found religion.  Maybe because I found DF.  Maybe because I found myself busy doing things I enjoyed.  Maybe because I found happiness, period.  I really couldn't say what finally made me able to compartmentalize.

Some things still bother me (like how behind I am in wedding and moving prep).  I just find that I don't have the time to stop and worry about them like I used to or I'd fall behind on other things (like at work).  Other things don't bother me or don't bother me that much (like how toxic my sister is being -- so much so that she dropped out of my wedding recently because I wouldn't let her toxicity interfere with my happiness).  I don't care for her toxicity, but I really don't care that she not participate in my wedding (for one, it saves us money and two, she hadn't done a single thing to help, anyway, so it makes no difference to me that she not be in it).  I thought about how much I'd care if the rest of my family opted to drop out of my wedding or not attend in solidarity with her (could happen, although not a probability), and I really can't let myself care that much (and, no, I haven't been a bridezilla -- my family lives too far from me to have been any help at all regarding my wedding so I haven't requested anything other than for them to try on the dresses I paid for and had shipped to their address, invited them to stay at what'll be my new home with DF where they'll lodge for free and get fed for free and said that I really don't have time for phone calls, including with DF, so e-mails are the way to communicate with me; if that makes me a bridezilla, so be it, as they can pay for their own dresses and own food & lodging in the future if they like and leave me alone).

I won't say "not caring" is easy, and I think a large part of being able to do it is the kind of person you are (for me, being really impatient and having a very low tolerance for BS helps me a lot -- doesn't help me if I wanted people to like me but helps me to cut out the BS more quickly than others could).  If I were a nicer person, like DF, I'd have a harder time of "not caring" (because he feels it's his "Christian duty" to forgive like Jesus forgave us).  I'm made of harder stuff, plus I've had a lifetime of people repeatedly burning me (including Toxic Sister).  I haven't a second thought in putting problem people on the back burner when I have other things that require my focus right now.  I suppose, perhaps, when I have more free time again, then those other things will start to bother me once more but, right now, I really am enjoying the fact that I'm too focused on higher priority things to let the louses "louse up" my life.
Title: Re: How to "not care"?
Post by: suzieQ on December 22, 2012, 10:45:15 PM
For me, it has been living with my son for the past 15 years. He has always been a high maintenance, stressful person to live with. After a lot of years of that, I got to the point that I just don't care about what other people say or do or think. I have enough on my plate at home.

A coworker wants to be passive aggressive instead of just coming to me and telling me what the problem is so we can work it out? I don't care. I have bigger fish to fry at home.
(If coworker had come to me and talked instead of being P/A then I would have tried to work things out)

Rude lady in the grocery store? So what - DS is a lot ruder a lot more often. And (after many years of trying to like DS) I don't care when he acts like an a**, so why should I care when a stranger acts that way?

Don't get me wrong - I love DS. But most of the time, I don't like him.
Title: Re: How to "not care"?
Post by: misha412 on December 22, 2012, 11:33:48 PM
One of the hardest lessons I have had to learn is loving detachment. I love the people involved, but I cannot fix them or their problems. I have had to learn to take a big step back and let them deal with their own problems. I care that they have troubles, but I cannot spend my time and energy focused on their issues when I have many of my own to handle.

It's not about "not caring," it is about not caring too much. At least for me.
Title: Re: How to "not care"?
Post by: Danika on December 23, 2012, 01:39:12 AM
Part of what's helped me let go of issues is realizing that sometimes, people don't think like I do. And that I can't keep trying to convince them to see things my way. That my version of what's logical and how they see the world are two different things and I'm just spinning my wheels.

I'm the kind of person who likes to solve a problem if there is one. I don't like to just complain about it, rather I want to find a solution and work towards that solution.

But when there's someone you're close to in your life who treats you poorly, you want to make them realize that what they're doing is hurtful, hoping they'll stop doing it. And sometimes that's fruitless. You can try a million times and never get through.

As a child, I didn't have the option to just walk away from a toxic environment. I was dependent upon the adults in my life. It was my responsibility to keep everyone around me as happy as possible because if they were in a foul mood, they'd treat me horribly. I internalized this and learned that it was my responsibility to be the happiness fairy, always reacting to everyone's subtle behaviors and accommodating them and making sure they were as happy as could be. This was a lot of work, but then I was rewarded by not being berated or being treated as poorly.

Sadly, since this is what worked for me as a child, I never questioned it and I continued to behave that way as an adult. Always being too accommodating and always internalizing things. If someone was unhappy, I thought it was my fault, and therefore, my responsibility to fix. If someone, anyone - a friend, relative or a complete stranger - criticized me, they must be right and it was my responsibility to fix.

My self-image was dependent upon how others viewed me. So unless I had 100% of the people around me telling me I was wonderful, then there was a problem, and it was my responsibility to fix it. Now, I try to tell myself that the most important opinion is my own. As long as *I* think I'm honest, nice, fair, generous, etc, it is less important that someone else think so.

Several things have helped me to stop ruminating over things. One is that I ask myself "If the tables were turned, how would I have acted?" Would I have been as entitled, thinking that I had a right to do X, as they did? Would I have been rude and screamed like they did? When I realize that I would not have behaved as they did, I realize that we are different. And that I can't reason with someone who just doesn't think like I do. That eventually, I have to give up and stop trying to make them see my reality. Once I realized that I couldn't fix things, it was helpful to learn that sometimes the only solution is avoidance. Sometimes, the only way to win the game is to not play at all. Put your cards on the table and walk away. Stop fighting in the tug of war, drop the rope and walk away.

A good piece of advice I got years ago was that you can't have no thoughts. Your brain is always thinking of something. So if you want to get rid of a thought, you have to replace it with another. If you're always ruminating over someone or a situation, you can't just say "Stop thinking about it." You have to find another more pleasant topic and try to get yourself to think of that instead.

I read a book called "The Brain that Changes Itself" and it talks about how certain pathways in the brain are well-worn. Kind of like a rut in a road. If you keep taking that path and thinking about that thing, the brain tends to take that path more easily the next time and the next until it's almost automatic. If you want to take a new path, the first few times, you have to fight with your thought-process, like moving the car tires and pointing them down another path. You have to say "I am not going to think of A, I will think of B instead" and go down a less-worn path. Each time you find yourself going down the old path A, you move and try to go down path B or path C. Eventually, path A is not the automatic path and you don't think of it as much anymore.
Title: Re: How to "not care"?
Post by: weeblewobble on December 23, 2012, 05:50:10 AM
There are some things I do let bother me, i.e. the "Simplify Travel Plans?" thread where my brother creates chaos and I feel the need to bring the hammer down on his Loki-like butt. 

But when it comes to other people, like DH's sister, I stopped letting her bother me a while ago when I someone here suggested I try to observe her "from the outside" like a sociologist or Jane Goodall observing some strange, ill-behaved new species.  And since I'm a writer, I've found it also helps to "narrate" the scene in my head, as if I was writing about one of my sillier characters. It has actually helped me develop some story ideas.
Title: Re: How to "not care"?
Post by: Lynn2000 on December 28, 2012, 10:15:49 PM
So many great ideas in this thread. I think it's important to realize that "not caring," or caring less, doesn't make you a bad person, or a not-nice person. There are lots of people who care a lot about things, and try to bring about change for the better in the world; but I think the secret to someone who is successful at that is they know where and how to focus their caring. They don't go around "caring" about every sob-story they hear, handing money to everyone who asks for it, trying to lift up people who don't want to be lifted. They use some savvy, instincts, personal boundaries, etc., and they focus their caring energies wisely, in places where it can truly do something good.

What's the story about the lottery winner who received a letter from a minister, saying God had told the minister this lottery winner would give money to the minister's church--and the winner was like, "Seems like God would've told me first." It's not because the lottery winner didn't care to help others, he just wanted to care in the right places, because if he gave money to everyone who asked, he wouldn't have money for the causes and people he really cared about.

My friend Amy has a job where she gives a lot of advice to young people who are kind of clueless sometimes, and she's really good at it. Sometimes she has to be a little pushy, because they think they know better and she can see how the mistakes they're making will drastically affect their futures. Not everyone is going to listen, but it's her job to try. This tends to spill over into other aspects of her life, though--her in-laws are really dysfunctional and it's been very difficult for her to try and "not care" about what they do, because her instinct is to help people, solve problems, fix things. And these people really don't want to be fixed or advised, and it's not her job to try anyway, and they all live far enough away that their bad decisions aren't really going to affect her unless she lets them emotionally. I think she feels like a bad person for not caring, for not wanting to care, but I think it's healthier for her, and means she can devote her caring energies to her job, and people who really want help.
Title: Re: How to "not care"?
Post by: Amara on December 29, 2012, 11:53:32 AM
Everyone's input here--and more is always welcome--is invaluable. I have bookmarked it, and often reread it, finding new wisdom here constantly. I'm still learning and probably always will be, but so many of you are not only wise but generous in sharing your wisdom. Thank you.
Title: Re: How to "not care"?
Post by: snowflake on December 29, 2012, 03:14:38 PM
I think I went through a period of "caring passively" (refusing to bow to certain tricks) before I stopped caring. 

And I can't say that I "don't care."  A certain relative of mine is threatening to die (again.)  This happens twice a year without fail.  I'm not buying a pricey plane ticket.  I'm not sending another expensive arrangement of flowers.  I'm not going to even call her because I'll just hear how I'm not hacking it at caring.  I'm sorry, but she has gotten all the death bed attention she is going to get from me.  For the past 20 years it has been a game to see whether I love her above everything in my life (including putting my job in jeopardy.)

She very well might really die.  Even if she didn't have about ten different serious health conditions, she's 90 now and could keel over just because.  If she does tomorrow, I won't feel relieved.  I'm going to cry.  I'm going to be sad about her because she did love me (not as much as herself, but she did love me once).  I'll also be sad that my other relatives are sad. 

I do care about her life.  I don't care about her threats.  And I'm glad I know the difference now!
Title: Re: How to "not care"?
Post by: PitBullMom on December 30, 2012, 12:10:31 PM
This makes me think about a situation going on right now at work. One of my coworkers is feeling taken advantage of and unappreciated. She feels that she isn't given the appropriate tools to do her job well and efficiently. On top of this, this is her part time job and she's working here to help us out. She has her own shop she works in full time and takes time out of her busy week to work with us a couple of days.

While I sympathize with her situation, I'm not in a position to do anything about it. So I said to her, "You are an adult. You can do what you want. Nothing in life is mandatory or required. If this situation isn't working for you, I don't think you should feel guilty for leaving."

All to often we get wrapped up in things we have to do. I think it's helpful to remind ourselves that there's absolutely nothing in this world we have to do. There are things we choose to do, and as a result, choose to do other things to make them happen, but nothing whatsoever is required of us.

I think this attitude keeps things into perspective and prevents me from involving myself in unnecessary drama and BS.
Title: Re: How to "not care"?
Post by: Lynn2000 on December 31, 2012, 10:10:09 PM
A PP made an interesting remark about how some people take things very personally--if the bank teller seemed a little abrupt with them that morning, it must be because the teller was making some kind of unfair negative judgment about the customer, and is a jerk. It couldn't possibly be that it had nothing at all to do with the customer; it also couldn't be that it was a fair negative judgment, because the customer was asking for something unreasonable (though of course the teller ought to remain professional). Or that an objective observer might not have noticed any abruptness at all. I've seen this kind of thing before with people who are drama queens--well, that's how you become a drama queen, right, by making a big deal out of minor situations.

It can be hard to see patterns when you're in the middle of them; but as someone on the outside, it's easier to step back and say (if only to yourself), "Hmm, what are the odds that every time she goes to the bank or grocery store or library, she meets someone who's a jerk to her?" Once you conclude that either a) she's overdramatizing for attention or truly taking things personally in an inappropriate way; or b) doing things to elicit the "jerky" behavior herself, that's a big step in not caring so much about the latest drama story.

Like the girl who has a string of bad boyfriends. Yes, some people are truly unlucky. But, at least in the few situations I've seen, the girl tends to pick guys who show signs of being bad apples before they even start dating. It's like--the first time you told me he cheated on you, I felt really bad for you. When you tell me about it happening for the fourth time, and how you guys met when he cheated with you on his previous girlfriend, and how you knew before dating him that he'd cheated on other girlfriends... I really can't muster a lot of empathy for you there, except to be sad that you think so little of yourself.
Title: Re: How to "not care"?
Post by: heartmug on January 02, 2013, 11:23:45 AM
Great thread.  So many helpful hints.  This was my New Year's resolution, my gift to myself, to care less about certain family members.  These ones I enjoy being around, but I have noticed in the past 2 years it was me who always initiated contact.  I set up the meetings for dinner.  We would have dinner, have a blast, then the wife would say "That was so much fun!  Sorry it has to end.  We will call you to go see a movie (or something other suggestion)."  DH and I would say "That would be great!" and then nothing.

A couple of months would pass and again I initiate.  We have been invited to their house twice and both times it was for a gift giving situation with a lot of other people around.  We had little time to talk to them.

So I am sitting back and seeing if they really do want to spend time with us.  I am letting this go and it feels great.  It is their loss not mine.  I am now spending my time and energy on those who know the phone (and invitations) work  both ways.  I care about them but I don't care to spend this much time trying to track down time with them.