The Problem Of Caring

We all know that the world is a miserable place. And signs show that it’s only getting worse. I have often quipped that humanity is, at most 40% good. That statement is meant to be a joke, but the more I think about it, humanity, is just an awful, unpredictable mess; a horse-drawn carriage barreling downhill and your horses suffer from debilitating vertigo. And it is human nature to somehow find an inkling of hope or charm; something to hitch our wagon of hope to. As a result, we often start caring about things. Drastically, desperately caring about a world that is both unaware and unaffected by the fact that you care. Simply put, it is in human nature to care, and I, for one, would like to invite people to take the daring step to stop caring, or at the very least choose wisely what to care about.

We have so much to care about today. The paycheck, the school, the government, the weather, the climate, all of it just tangled together in a suffocating web, that we end up chasing everything and nothing. We tie our emotions to so many issues that fluctuate constantly, putting ourselves through this rollercoaster of pain and joy evens out to a flat, dull average.

Let me explain. I am a student. As such, I care about my exams, about my marks, my job prospects, how I look, what other students think of me, what other teachers think of me, and endless other college level worries. I genuinely care about all of these things, and changing myself to correspond with those issues is an exhausting practice in overcorrection. Also, if these issues end up being contrary, I’m in a whole new spiral to get out of. If I close myself off to study well and do well on exams, the friends I care about will care less. But if I don’t study well, and don’t do well on the exams, my prospects of a job go down. We are constantly stuck in this perpetual sine wave of feelings, and it proves how much the things we care about ending simply ruining our day to day lives.

Caring leads to action, but overcaring leads to paralysis. Ever have that moment when you’re worried the night before a test or presentation that you can’t think straight, can’t sleep and end up not doing anything to fix the issue? For some reason, we convince ourselves that every little initiative in our lives is so important that if we mess it up the tiniest bit, it will lead to our downfall. We create these doomsday scenarios for ourselves that are so engrossing that it feels like a certainty. We have to focus on an infinite amount of things at once, and the result is that we care about everything but end up doing nothing.

Go ahead, try writing down three things you’re worried about, on every scale. Done? Okay, now write down three things you feel hopeful about. Not as easy, is it?

Obviously, I’m no psychologist, but I would guess that our need to care about everything puts us in a bubble of constant worry and doubt that doesn’t allow room for hope, or even action.

Now, I’m not arguing to be nonchalant and be blasé about your life; actually indifference is a lot worse than overcaring, but I want you to choose the things to care about. Here’s a test: for everything plaguing the doubt centers of your mind, ask yourself whether if your worst case scenario occurred, will your life, or those of the ones you love be altered by an irreversible amount. For example, if your job is considering downsizing, that is obviously something to worry about, you could lose your job, and your source of income. That is something to care about. Now, failing a test, admittedly one of my worst nightmares, will that change my life or my loved ones’ in an irreversible way? Not really, there will be other tests, other schools, other opportunities.

So, take time for yourself and really examine what you care about. Money, cars, and houses can be bought again. Your time and effort can’t. Choose the things you want to devote brain power to, and choose wisely. Shut that little doomsday voice in your head, and look to take action about the things you actually care about.

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