Not Minding Leads to Confidence, Not Caring to Disengagement and Depression
Not minding is not not caring
World Suicide Prevention Day is celebrated in Australia in conjunction with R U OK? Day which encourages everyone to ask after others, and to share their stories.
The shared stories I saw humbled me, and also gave me the courage to share my story — on the chance that it may help others.
It was a Thursday, at 9 am. The afternoon before I’d spent 4 hours in the hospital for an invasive biopsy. “Your doctor will call you in a few days”, they told me as I was discharged.
My mobile phone rang. “You need to book immediate surgery”, said my doctor. He informed me straight-out that I had cancer — one which would almost certainly kill me within 5 years, he added.
I had surgery 3 weeks later — 5 and one-half hours.
About 6 months after surgery my marriage of 15 years broke down and we separated. After 12 years of trying to have a child, through miscarriage, depression and IVF, it was sad the marriage ended soon after our daughter successfully arrived.
Financially I was bad shape, in some part due to $20,000 worth of medical bills but primarily because my income left me in debt at the end of each month (working for a start-up — one of the pressures on the marriage).
At an eye check-up a few months later the optometrist looked alarmed when I mentioned flashes of light and told me — should they happen again — to admit myself directly to Emergency at the metro Eye Hospital as I may require immediate surgery to save my sight.
But the fact was that I could not afford any further medical treatment without selling my house — so I wasn’t about to take her advice.
Things were crashing in on me. Over the next 12 months I had to figure out how to pull my life back together, and “not minding” is a part of how I did it*.
Not minding is not not caring
Not minding matters because by consciously managing this skill you can rebuild and further build your self-confidence.
Not caring matters, because if you continue to not care you become detached from not only the world and those around you, but also from yourself. This can lead to depression and suicide.
Not caring indicates a withdrawal and lack of empathy. That’s not being human, and its on the road to being psychopathic.
This is why you need to keep caring, but learn to not mind.
The challenge is that most people do not consciously know the difference, and thus miss leveraging opportunities to build sustainable self-confidence.
The application of “not minding” is in putting yourself out there to be in the present by exposing your vulnerabilities and facing your fears, again — and caring about the experience.
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Recovery starts with getting back into the present
To rebuild my confidence I had to set about re-experiencing the world.
However when your world has crumbled and needs to be rebuilt there are fears to be faced, and the thought of “self-awareness” can be threatening.
It takes a while to come out of “protective mode” — but come out you must.
Coming out means more than reviewing the past and playing movies in your mind of the future. Replaying the past, and imagining the future in an endless loop is being in Searching mode.
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Being in Searching mode is better than being in Protective mode but it leaves you in an introspective endless loop — a mode in which you are not experiencing the world in the present.
Being unable to access the present has consequences.
If you are not experiencing the world in the present then you cannot grow your self-awareness and self-confidence.
And ironically perhaps, not being in the present and being self-aware can lead to overconfidence exhibited through arrogance — an affliction of many men.
It’s sometimes said that people love overconfidence, but don’t go that route, it’s boorish, childish and displays a lack of character for all to see — except you.
It is intimidating, but experiencing the world again requires you to expose your fears and vulnerabilities and to explore your created experience of life by being in the present. This is what I call being in “Explorer mode”, living as a 3-year-old feels life.
Chanting a fairy story won’t turn you into a Prince or Princess
After being a state of self-doubt, being in explorer mode is frightening.
I realised that I needed a framework beyond “positivity” “positive thinking” “being happy” etc in order to cope. Something that was not simply euphoric or skin deep.
I read a few books about building self-confidence but, for me, they all boiled down to superficial “chanting” with no sustainable core behavioural value.
I could foresee the gloom and possible worse depression after the chanting stopped or the realisation hit that it simply wasn’t making a difference.
It seems that the premise of the “self-confidence industry” is that if you deny reality and chant a fairy-story to yourself for long enough then one day a Princess will kiss you and you will be transformed into a handsome Prince.
This makes you more dependent and helpless at the very time when you need to be more responsible and more in control of your awareness of the world.
I searched for something which was not just something “extra” which I had to remember to do or to be but rather was part of how I processed the world.
This is how I recognised that, for me, the “I care but I don’t mind” technique was a keystone in the fabric that I needed to rebuild my confidence.
I wanted to feel the full impact of the world and the full raw impact of “life” as it happens and to be capable of processing it to improve my self-awareness.
I didn’t want to filter the reality through any “happiness” or “positivity” filter as that was more likely to detach me from reality.
For me, this decision started me on the road to recovered self-confidence.
Confidence comes from exposing vulnerabilities
The application of the “caring, but not minding” technique is within the context, or activity, of exposing vulnerabilities as a means of rebuilding self-confidence.
There is a leap of faith on my part here.
The leap is that you understand or believe that putting yourself out there and not retreating or protecting or being absorbed in your mind is a useful way to rebuild confidence.
I had to learn this for myself as part of the process I went through and by putting myself in the “Explorer” mindset.
The three steps of the “caring but not minding” technique are these:
- Exposing your fears and vulnerabilities;
- Caring but not minding;
- Checking-in with your self-beliefs to identify and acknowledge what beliefs are causing your thoughts and feelings in relation to exposing yourself — and which need to be changed (or consciously accepted). This is a topic for another post.
I want to be clear that I had been through many months of reflecting and thinking about how we experience the world, before this “caring but not minding” technique registered in my mind as being a key enabler.
I hope that you may be able to see the value of the technique even if you have not been through the same down and out and recovery process.
I had also come to completely accept that my thoughts were a product of my beliefs.
Therefore since my beliefs were under my control then ipso facto my thoughts were completely under my control.
My thoughts, and thus my feelings, were not “created” and thrust upon me by a nasty or unappreciative world — they were created by me.
I accepted responsibility.
This acceptance is a key part of how personal value is created from the “caring but not minding” technique — because the “not minding” provides space for reviewing and adjusting those beliefs.
Caring but not minding is a means to an end
In fact, when it all boils down, this “caring but not minding” technique is just a means to an end. And that end is to be able to calmly, and in a sense unemotionally, review your beliefs.
The reason to review your beliefs is that by changing your beliefs you will change how you experience the world — and how the world experiences you.
The bottom line is that if you don’t care you cannot become more self-aware.
Self-awareness evolves with the information we gain from others about our behaviour. And worse, if you continue to not care then you drop off the grid of life and potentially lose your desire to live.
When my friend Tony Scott took his life 2 weeks ago he had dropped off and stopped caring, and we didn’t notice. His wife and 2 young children couldn’t help but have noticed, but Tony was no longer in the present and was a prisoner of his own mind.
If you are not caring, then find someone to talk to — anything to bring you into the present however transitory. Contact me.
If you do care then try using the “I don’t mind” technique to build your self-confidence to new heights.
Life is what it is. We all suffer and we can all recover by bringing ourselves back into the present.
With thanks to old friends, new friends and work colleagues who helped me when I needed it most — you know who you are.
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I’m Walter. I write articles on fitness, health, and motivation for men and women over 50. However, curiosity is my main distinction. I’ve been lucky enough to have experienced a bolt of lightning hitting me in Korea, crash landing in a 747 (LAX), being sucked into a thundercloud at 4,000m in a sailplane (Australia), jumping freefall from 3,000m on my 1st ever parachute jump (Florida), and two different lethal cancers. In 2000 I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes which sparked my interested in exercise, nutrition, motivation and cognitive fitness. University qualified in mathematical statistics, and computing science (Masters); have a professional diploma in sports nutrition; certified social media strategist. Feel free to message/email me with any comments, questions, or collaboration ideas. Blog: walteradamson.com