There’s a delicate balance between caring too little and too much, and neither comes without its pitfalls. Caring too little can make you apathetic, unsympathetic, demotivated. Caring too much can make you exhausted, stressed out, resentful, disappointed, anxious. Most people I have met have been inclined towards one or the other end of the spectrum, or have see-sawed between the two.
For the most part, I seem to care too much. I take things to heart, I take things too personally, I have perfectionist tendencies. I want more control over my life and my surroundings, even when it’s not achievable. I can be too empathic and take too much on, I can take things too seriously, I can fret and worry until I’m a mess.
I don’t think apathy is a good thing. I’m glad I care about others and the world around me, and I’m glad I mostly care too much. But there’s a limit, and when you reach it you risk becoming frazzled and overwhelmed.
Learning to care a little less isn’t something that comes easily for me. It’s something I have to constantly remind myself, and it’s not always successful, not even the majority of the time. But I try, and sometimes I manage it and the feeling is liberating.
To care a little less can mean giving up some of the restrictions and stresses you put on yourself and your life. The need for control, be that over your body, your health and your life, or your situation and those around you, can drive you stir crazy. Sometimes you can only do so much before nature takes over. Some things are simply out of your control, and all we can partly control is our response to what happens to us and around us.
Caring a little less can mean not taking things too personally and not worrying so much about what others think. I find this difficult when it comes to my health because of the old “you look fine” malarky. The sense of being judged is pervasive and can really get to you. But really, what does it matter in the grand scheme of things? What does it matter if they can’t see how much I struggle or ignorantly make judgements? What does it matter if people judge my size, my face, my appearance, my lifestyle or my choices? It’s not their life, and I can choose to care only about what I think without letting the views or perceptions of others make me paranoid or bring me down.
Caring a little less can mean veering away from the path well trodden. In society, there seems to be unwritten rules about what is acceptable and what isn’t, and what milestones you should achieve at certain stages of your life. There are expectations that hang heavily over us in terms of relationships, jobs, money, possessions, having children. These are based on ideals and outdated notions of what constitutes happiness and fulfilment and success. Choose to define your own happiness and success within your own limits.
Caring a little less is a little easier if you can get a bit of space and perspective. Will the things you worry about and obsess over seem as important in a week, a month, or 5 years from now? What is the worst case scenario? Will the world truly fall apart? Whose problem is this, if I worry that people judge me; mine or theirs? To some extent, we can make ourselves a little stronger and more resilient, allowing us to not care as much what others think. So what if we haven’t ‘achieved’ the usual things by a certain time like a house or kids; so what if I don’t have a thigh gap; so what if I’m not skydiving, partying and holidaying. So what if I’m not editing my life on social media to make out as if everything is a constant stream of colourful fun and joy.
Let go of the expectations and pressures put upon you. Care about being a good person and what that means to you. I want to focus on being caring, considerate, thoughtful. I want to be stronger and more confident in myself so that I’m not as hurt by judgements nor as worried about what others will think. I want to feel free to live my life as best I can and play by my own rules. Liberate yourself by caring a little less about the things that aren’t helpful; you will find you are more able to live in the moment and find beauty where there was perhaps bleakness before. You can direct the energy spent before on caring too much about unhelpful or uncontrollable things on yourself and your own life instead.