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Do you find yourself trapped in worry? Or do you have difficulty taking action on something, even if you know it is important?
If your answer is yes, it might be time to stop caring so much.
This can seem counterintuitive, but sometimes the more we care, the more pressure we put on ourselves and a situation, which ultimately makes things harder. Caring about things is an important part of life, but caring too much can become debilitating. When we stop caring so much, it can be easier to see things clearly and find peace in any situation. Here are some techniques to stop caring so much, why this can actually make you happier, and some go-to questions to ask yourself whenever you find yourself caring too much.
How To Stop Caring So Much:
Focus on the process, not the results
- One way that many of us care too much is when we fixate on the results of a situation. We really want things to go a certain way, to get the outcome we desire, to make someone happy, or for everything to go perfectly. When you focus on the result, it can be easy to start obsessing over it. It starts to feel like everything in your life hinges on the outcome of a particular situation. The problem with this is that the results are often out of your control. By putting all of your care into what happens, you are investing too much of your energy into something that could be influenced by many external factors.
- Instead of caring only about the results, put more of your attention on the process. What actions are you taking that are in your control? How can you optimize those to be easier, or smoother, or more enjoyable? By caring about the process and what is in your control, you can trust that you have done your best work. This helps to take the pressure off the results and allows you to relax and stop caring. Also, this will give you confidence that even if one situation doesn’t go exactly the way you want, you can always try again.
Focus on how you feel
- Feeling anxious or out of control is often a sign that you are caring too much about something. When that happens, you are relying on something outside of yourself to determine how you feel. This can feel very overwhelming and leave you feeling powerless.
- To combat this, you can reverse engineer the process by deciding how you want to feel first. For inspiration, here’s a great library of feelings for you to consider. Then think about what you need to do in order to feel that way. This will often lead you to focus your attention on more productive actions, rather than obsessing over something that is not in your control.
Find other ways to develop your self-worth
- Another sign of caring too much is when you judge your own self-worth based on the outcome of a given situation. In this case, it makes complete sense that you care a lot because the stakes feel very high as you feel like they directly impact your value as a human being.
- You are worthy and valuable regardless of any external circumstances. Let me say that again, you are inherently worthy and valuable, just by being you. I can say this to you a million times, but it won’t make an impact until you truly believe it. In addition to believing in your inherent self-worth, there are many other ways to develop healthy self-esteem. Some effective ways to do this include challenging yourself to learn new skills or commit to something that scares you, surrounding yourself with people who make you feel happy and loved, doing something kind to someone else, and many others. By grounding your self-worth, you can care about something without letting it take on an exaggerated importance in your life.
Remember that most people don’t care that much
- This is something I constantly have to remind myself of. It’s so easy to think that everyone is paying attention to our every move and waiting to criticize everything we are doing. But in reality, this is almost always a form of distorted thinking. For better or worse, most people don’t care about you as much as you care about yourself. This might feel harsh, but it is actually quite freeing. When you realize other people don’t care, you stop caring as much about what they think. And when you stop caring so much what others think, you can actually focus on what you think and want.
- When you are in the middle of something challenging, it can feel like the most important thing in the world. All of your attention goes to it, and you stay up late tossing and turning thinking about it. These are the moments where perspective is so important. This might mean thinking about all the things that are going well in your life instead of just fixating on the one thing that isn’t going well. Or it might mean reminding yourself you have faced challenging situations in the past before and come out all right. Or it might mean focusing your attention on something else entirely that is important to you. This can help you see that this one moment is just that, a singular moment in time that will pass. When you gain this kind of perspective, you can stop caring so much about this one situation, because you see it in the context of the much greater picture of life.
Slow down and embrace the moment
- A final way to stop caring so much is to slow down and pay attention to the current moment. Often when we care too much we are focusing on the future or the past, or “could be’s”. By stopping to really ground yourself in the moment, you can drop the stories floating around in your head and see the reality of what is happening right now. This can help you realize that your current situation, like everything else, is temporary. This can also help you to see that things unfold the way they are going to fold and the amount of care or worry you have likely won’t make much difference. When you can see life from this detached perspective, you realize that caring too much is wasted energy that ultimately doesn’t have much impact, except to make you feel bad.
Why stopping caring can make you happier:
As a kid, I used to care deeply about just about everything. If something good or bad happened, I would feel it with all my heart and let it impact my emotional state. I carried this sensitivity with me as I grew older. And during my first couple of years of working professionally in the workplace, I cared a lot about everything. At the time, I saw this as a good thing, I cared and therefore worked hard, and therefore was a good employee. But I realized over time, that caring too much was actually burning me out. It meant I was working late, constantly checking my email when I was off work, and waking up in the middle of the night with racing thoughts about everything that could go wrong the next day. Learning to stop caring so much has made me a more relaxed person and a better employee.
So why does this work? Caring less comes down to establishing boundaries, building emotional resiliency, and developing trust. And each of these things help to create a happier life. They help you to build strength that comes from within instead of from what happens around you. They also help you to focus your energy on what really matters instead of wasting it on worry and carrying about things that don’t really matter.
Questions to ask yourself when you want to stop caring so much:
If you find yourself caring too much about something, here are some quick questions that can help you get to the bottom of what is going on and shift your thinking:
- What does it really matter?
- What am I really worried about here?
- Will I remember this in one year?
- Who cares?
- Do I care about this?
- Does my caring about this right now change the outcome in any way?
The next time you find yourself stuck caring too much about something, take a moment, and reflect on those questions. They can help to break up the repeated narrative in your head and make you question thoughts that might not be founded in reality.
Caring is great. But developing the skill to stop caring so much can be an important technique that creates more confidence and peace in your life. If you find yourself stuck in caring too much, use these techniques to care a little bit less!