Whenever I say “I don’t care,” you can pretty much bet I do care, and deeply, about whatever I am lamenting. I’ve written several posts about our actions matching our words, yet I am constantly needing to catch myself in this little self-lie before I speak. It’s such a habit to say “I don’t care!”
There are differences between my “I don’t cares” that say, void of emotion, “It truly doesn’t interest or have meaning for me” versus the flippant response used to lash out with hostility or snarkiness or pain. Some of the first times I said these words was through gulping sobs of being left out or of experiencing a perceived slight from a fellow kindergartner. Do you remember those times?
Some cool people don’t care.
I’ve always admired people who don’t seem to care in that truly unemotional way what others think or feel of their beliefs and actions, yet are otherwise passionate and self-confident.
When self-assured people don’t care, they generally just keep quiet. They feel no need to let everyone know they don’t care unless they’re directly asked. And, when pressed, they simply state their position on what is important to them and what isn’t.
I’m getting better in my mind, but my actions need to follow.
Once I ventured into my senior years, I began to care less about what people thought of me or my words or my actions and beliefs. Notice I say less rather than not at all. I still throw out the occasional “I don’t care” but, when I do, I metaphorically hug that little kid inside of me that is scared.
So much of what I do and say is out of habit. This not caring verbiage is what I grew up with. I was in good company, as everyone in my family and friends communicated that way. We didn’t think twice about whether we spoke with integrity.
Over the years, I’ve worked to eliminate such thoughtless habits. We’re all more enlightened, right? These days, before I speak nonchalantly of indifference, I endeavor to check myself to be sure I don’t care.
Pay attention and see if it’s true for you the next time you say “I don’t care.” Better yet, make a list of those things you’re sure you don’t want to care about any more. Creating my list helped me see exactly how far I’ve progressed from reacting to nearly everything to being grounded and self-assured about what really matters to me these days.
Contact Antonia at Antonia@TheJoyofAgingGratefully.com