Amazeballz Stories Day 64/100: Stop Caring So Damn Much

The world is full of opportunities to for me to freak out a little. Even though I meditate every morning now, I still find myself entering a spiral of yucky feelings regularly.

My strategy is to take a minute to (breathe) examine the core feeling that is feeding the oogie-ness I am experiencing.

What I have found is that it is almost always a variation on the same theme: Someone isn’t doing what I think they should be doing. (I know! Gasp!)

Here’s some examples:

I see a friend making a dumb choice yet again and I think — I would not do that it I were you. You are just repeating the same pattern that made a mess last time.

I see colleagues ignoring complaints in their work and I think — how do you not see the pattern right in front of you that clearly needs to be addressed?

I see a bad decision happening at work and I think — That is not a great answer. That decision will waste people’s energy for little gain. Wrong choice.

Now what should I do?

Feedback is tricky. If your opinion has not been asked for — that feedback is generally not well received. (NOTE TO SELF: Unsolicited opinions are STILL a terrible idea.)

But imagine that in each case that my opinion had actually been ASKED FOR.

In response, I tell each person clearly and specifically why I think they should do something differently.

Now imagine that they do not heed my advice. (Shocking.)

And then I make the mistake. A big mistake.

I care.

I begin to rev up my engine of self-righteous indignation and strategy to prove myself right, fueled by the powerful fire of “caring.”

I tell myself I care because I want them to have the best or get good results. I tell myself I care for THEM.

But really, I care mostly because I think I am right-er than the decision that has been made. And my ego feels bruised that they did not value my brilliance enough to go with my recommendation.

I’ll give you a hypothetical example: Let’s say that at work, a decision inside my own department is overridden by someone with authority over me. I feel flooded with frustration. I think — Why am I not allowed to run my own department my own way and do what I think (I KNOW) is best. Why????

In that moment I care so much. I can get lost in a sense of how much this matters! I can spend a great deal of energy trying to figure out how to convince the person in power to change their decision. I CARE!!!!

Even in this case, all this “caring” is once again my ego crying out for validation. My feelings are hurt. It’s not really even about the decision. This one decision is not going to make or break my career, my meaningful work or my department.

The fact that my recommendation was not followed in this one instance does not mean anything about my ability as a leader or thinker. It means that someone above me wanted or valued something else. And even if they were wrong and I was right, it really does not matter in the big picture. IT IS NOT WORTH MY CARING.

When I feel myself getting revved up for a cycle of angst and recrimination filled with CARING — I have begun to ask this question:

IS THIS SOMETHING I SHOULD CARE ABOUT?

Things I care about:

  • My relationship with my kids
  • My relationship with my husband
  • My relationship with close friends
  • Doing the work to support my health
  • My creativity and curiosity practice
  • Doing my very best work always
  • Adding value (what THEY value) to others

Things I don’t care about:

  • Anything I can’t change
  • Anything related to my ego

I never knew NOT CARING could be so beneficial to my quality of life and my ability to be great at my work.

Give it a try. Only care when it matters for one week and see what happens.

Hi! I’m Mary — a chiropractor, a writer, a marketer, and a teacher.

I am the founder of The Art of Story Project, an online business which coaches speakers and content creators to use story to become more powerful influencers.

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