It may not always seem like it sometimes to the people who know me, but I care a lot. I internalize a great deal of concern for other people and their struggles. Everything I have gone through in my life has given me a perspective of compassion for others who have it as bad or worse as I did. Because of that, I want the people around me to know that I honestly and truly care for them and to see me as a resource for their struggles. I love helping in any way that I can, and it fills me with a sense of joy when I help set someone up on the right path or help to ease their struggles.
With that being said, I often just don’t give a fuck. Not in a cold, dismissive way, but in a healthy, objective way. I don’t give a fuck what people say about me or how they view me. I certainly don’t give a fuck about rules or the usual ways of doing things. And I don’t give a fuck about the constant shit storm of nonsense from negative, unhelpful people. I have no time or energy to waste on that kind of shit.
Now, me caring and me not giving a fuck might sound like a contradiction, but I think there is a fine line between caring too much and not giving a fuck and it is a line that we should all walk, because leaning too much to one side strips something important from us. If we care too much we get lost in doing everything for everyone else and we get sucked into an empathy vortex where we confuse our own emotions and struggles for the emotions and struggles of others. We end up getting lost along with them. In the same way, if we never give a fuck, we never have the opportunity to help others and to lend our experience and advice and energy to helping them in a way that makes our life more meaningful and full of service to others.
So how do we live in that space between caring too much and not giving a fuck?
Put yourself first.
Sometimes, being selfish is the most selfless thing you can do. Cleaning up your own mental or physical garbage is the best way that you can serve others in a way that makes your service meaningful and authentic. Most of us who care a lot about others, and the world, make a habit of putting other people first and we often suffer because of it. We give away too much of our money or time or energy to others and we are left drained and deflated. That is why it is so important to sometimes, more often than not in fact, put your needs above the needs of others. You can’t fix anything for anyone else if you don’t fix the things that are wrong with you so, fuck it; be selfish sometimes. Say no. Cut people off who are sucking you dry and come back to them when you are full enough to withstand their drain. Not only will you have the resources to help them, in the form of finances, patience, or creativity, but you will never leave those interactions totally drained and you will be able to bounce back quicker to do it all again for someone else.
Putting yourself first also means not listening to all the negative bullshit that people throw your way as you start to make some serious changes in your life. It means not giving a shit about the old friendships that don’t serve you and not giving a shit about the flack you get from others as you try to cut out the old habits that are bringing you down. No matter how great the things you are doing someone, somewhere is going to talk shit about them. Don’t give a fuck about that! You care too much about yourself to do that.
Give others what they need, not what they want.
When people approach us they frequently approach us with a solution that they already imagined that you can help them implement. When someone is late on their bills they call and ask for money. They never call and ask how you can help them be more responsible with their finances, they just want money to fix the symptom not the cause. When someone calls and asks you how you lost weight, they want you to give them a quick fix diet or routine that helped you get into shape. They never want to hear about all the hard ass work it takes to drop the extra pounds and to get into shape and they shrug off your invite to the gym, so they never end up succeeding in their weight loss goal. Why? Because you gave them an answer and not a solution. The best thing you can do for people is to know the difference between what they need and what they want. You need to care enough to want to help, but not give a fuck enough to know that what you might offer for help is not what they want to hear, but really need to hear, if they honestly want to change the shit in their lives.
I accept a lot of advice from a lot of different people; people who I know are wiser, more accomplished and better at this living thing than I am. I read everything I can get my hands, listen to hours of podcasts – I am a sponge of information because I know the more that I learn, the more fodder I have to work through and to apply to the life I want. I care a lot about learning and growing. With that being said, I don’t give a fuck if some amazing personal development guru gave me some pithy advice that everyone else thinks is brilliant. If that shit doesn’t agree with my common sense, my reason and my purpose then I am dropping it. I make a habit of questioning everything that I read or hear or see because that gets me to a deeper understanding – a personal understanding that works with my path. We can respect and appreciate people without giving a fuck about everything they try to teach us. Not everything is going to work for you and a personal development path is PERSONAL, so you need to find what works for you personally. Don’t just buy into shit blindly because important people said it. Care enough to listen, but give the proper amount of fucks if it doesn’t serve you.
Living in this space between caring too much and not giving a fuck is a difficult space to inhabit. You have to be constantly vigilant that you are not moving too far one way or the other and that requires a constant evaluation of your motives and intent. You have to be really in tune with what you are trying to get out of your journey and know when you need to slide back towards caring or not giving a fuck. But if you can exist there in that space for long enough, it becomes easier and easier to navigate and the payoffs become larger and larger. Things open up and you are able to balance all that compassion you have for others with all that shit you want to accomplish for yourself and that’s when you start to see the most movement in your world. So go out there and care too much, but have the inner strength to sometimes not give a fuck.