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Author Topic: How to "not care"?  (Read 12823 times)

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Re: How to "not care"?
« Reply #15 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.


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Re: How to "not care"?
« Reply #16 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.

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Re: How to "not care"?
« Reply #17 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?


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Re: How to "not care"?
« Reply #18 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.

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Re: How to "not care"?
« Reply #19 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.
"... for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so."
-William Shakespeare

"We find comfort among those who agree with us - growth among those who don't."  ~Frank A. Clark


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Re: How to "not care"?
« Reply #20 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.
"I am the laziest person on Earth. I want to learn to photosynthesize so I can buy a sun lamp and survive without getting out of bed."  M-theory 11/23/10


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Re: How to "not care"?
« Reply #21 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.


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Re: How to "not care"?
« Reply #22 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.


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Re: How to "not care"?
« Reply #23 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.
« Last Edit: December 22, 2012, 05:03:30 PM by Allyson »


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Re: How to "not care"?
« Reply #24 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.
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bow lines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.


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Re: How to "not care"?
« Reply #25 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.


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Re: How to "not care"?
« Reply #26 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.


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Re: How to "not care"?
« Reply #27 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.


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Re: How to "not care"?
« Reply #28 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.


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Re: How to "not care"?
« Reply #29 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.