Not giving a damn is not the answer


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Excerpt from: my book series

The more I browse social media, the more I see the increasing popularity of the belief that not giving a f*ck is the answer to all of life’s problems…

  • That the answer to caring too much about what people think is to not care
  • That the answer to caring too much about the world’s problems is to not care
  • That the answer to relieving stress in your life is to simply not give a f*ck about anything

And it simply isn’t true. This mode of handling things is just another dysfunctional extreme — the same as caring too much tends to be.

All that “not-giving-a-damn” does is fill the world with more of the types of people no one wants to run into — and as a byproduct, makes the world an even colder and more unfeeling place to be. This, in turn, creates a world of people who don’t care because it’s full of a world of people don’t care — ad infinitum.

The physical equivalent of not giving a damn about anything is putting a blindfold on and sticking your fingers in your ears. It doesn’t make problems go away, it perpetuates them by fooling you into thinking they don’t exist. And it creates a false sense of security and confidence.

The world doesn’t need any more people who don’t care about their fellow human beings (or anything else we share the planet universe with). The world needs more people who know how to effectively channel their energy into strategies that work. Refusing to listen to feedback or care about things is not an effective strategy.

“But I’ve been told not to care what others think or say about me!”, you say.

There is a big difference between not letting what others say about you have control over your sense of self-worth, and simply not caring what people say at all.

And there is a big difference between listening to feedback & compromising yourself to meet other people’s expectations, and listening to feedback, considering it, and moving ahead still confident in who you are and what you believe.

“Listen, smile, agree, and then do whatever the fuck you were gonna do anyway.” – Robert Downey Jr.

Listening to and being receptive to feedback is an important life skill and vital to being an effective communicator. (But so is knowing your environment and your audience — ie. youtube, Reddit, Xbox live…)

For example, if all you get is negative feedback about your attitude or behavior, then this may be a sign that there may be room for improvement in some aspect of how you handle things. If you keep finding yourself in similar negative situations with different people, employers, or relationships, then this may be a sign that the problem is not an external one.

This is sometimes evidenced by people who declare that they hate drama — and yet they are responsible for being attracted to or inviting into their lives the drama that they say they hate so much.

Another example, just because you don’t mean to hurt people’s feelings, but you inexplicably find yourself doing it over and over doesn’t mean it’s not your problem. It may be a sign that you are unaware of something you are doing and that you could easily improve upon if you chose to acknowledge it.

We can only experience freedom in direct proportion to the amount of truth that we are willing to accept without running away.” — Robert Anthony

I’m not suggesting you should change for others or try to please everyone. I’m suggesting that if you are consistently causing issues that you don’t intend to, then that may be something worth taking a look at if you truly are open to improving things about yourself.

No one is perfect. We are all works-in-progress. And there is always room for improvement.

Remember to always be yourself. Unless you suck.” – Joss Whedon

Sometimes we are so blind to our own behaviors — because we judge ourselves based on our intentions, not our actions — that we don’t realize when we suck. That’s when we actually need feedback from people to alert us to the things we are unaware of.

Most of the people who inconvenience others in the world don’t walk around thinking, “Yeah, I’m a sucky person.” On the contrary, they likely don’t realize that they are exactly the type of person they don’t want to be because they’ve learned to not give a damn about anything by ignoring negative feedback and giving positive feedback too much weight.

They’ve also never taken a good long look at themselves or what kind of affect — or inconvenience — they have on those around them. They might disregard feedback they’ve gotten with, “Well, I don’t care if people don’t like me.”

While you should, by no means, try to be liked by everyone, being likable matters in life:

Being likable, connecting with others, and forming relationships — whether it’s with an individual or an audience — is an integral part of being successful in life.

And being liked can have a direct impact on your health, your wealth, your general level of happiness, and how effective you are at achieving goals. (from Likability. Being liked and unliked)

And caring about things matters in life, too. The desire to make the world a better place doesn’t come from apathy. It often comes from discontent and a desire to fill a void or solve a problem.

“Restlessness is discontent and discontent is the first necessity of progress.” — Thomas Edison

It’s not people who don’t care that change the world. It’s people who do. And they care so much about something that their intense focus on whatever is within their power to change results in the whole world being affected.

The answer isn’t to stop giving a damn about everything.

The answer is to stop trying to have control over things you can’t change and to instead focus on those that you can. The answer is to not let the actions or words of others control your emotions. The answer is to develop strength from discomfort. The answer is to believe in yourself.

By all means, care about things, but learn to let go of those things you have no control of (or no desire to).

Did someone cut you off, cut in line in front of you, fail to hold a door for you? By all means, care about these things, but learn an effective way to deal with them and to let go of those that don’t have any solution. Complaining? That’s not a solution.

In the end, regardless of the feedback you get in life, none of it has to bother you unless you choose to let it (See: You are not a book and why that matters). The point is, you should be able to accept feedback without leaving your sense of self-worth and well-being in the hands of others.

Allowing yourself to be open is a sign of confidence, and it’s a strength that will get you much further in life, and provide you with the ability to weather more storms, than simply pretending that storms don’t exist.

Tenderness and kindness are not signs of weakness and despair, but manifestations of strength and resolution.” — Kahlil Gibran

Some steps and questions for dealing with what life throws your way:

  1. What can I learn from this?
  2. Can I do anything about this? Is this with my power to change?
  3. Evaluate. If yes, is it something I actually want to change? (If no, then move on).
  4. React (or don’t react) accordingly.
  5. Move on.

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