The art of not caring – Reducing stress to improve our health
Having lived with chronic pain from dystonia for almost 20 years, I spent most of that time focused on treating the physical symptoms. This has been very important and helpful, but for too long I neglected the impact of my emotional state, which was one of anger, sadness, grief, bitterness, and hatred for what my life had become. I lost my physical ability to do anything without blinding pain, so these are not unreasonable feelings. However, I let these feelings last way too long and take over my life. As a result, I was overly stressed which worsened my health.
When I began to resolve these emotions, which took years and is still a daily (lifetime) practice, it helped me better come to terms with my dystonia and pain, and life began to change. I began to practice mind calming activities such as meditation, breathing exercises, and visualization, as well as decluttering my life, removing toxicity, setting boundaries, respecting myself and my time more, not caring so much about things I have no control over, and learning how to let go and stop resisting what I didn’t like about life. This helped me learn to not care so much that I had dystonia and pain, which was probably the biggest thing that transformed my life and helped me create a new one.
Not caring so much about everything significantly increased my level of health and happiness. Some other things that help lower my stress and increase my happiness meter include not watching the news, avoiding politics and political conversations, not engaging in the lives of people who steal my energy, not caring what people think about the life I need to live to best manage my health, and letting go of guilt so I can engage in self-care activities that are so vital to my well-being.
It was amazing the changes that took place when I stopped caring and worrying so much about how I felt, what others thought, and not exposing myself to petty drama. Being focused on doing as well as I can with whatever challenge I may have on a particular day, whether it is related to my health or not, was the missing link for me to improve my physical and mental health. So, my newest affirmation is, “I don’t care. I choose to be happy.”
I don’t mean that I’m an uncaring person or without compassion. I am very much the opposite; I am a deeply passionate, very caring person. The problem is that sometimes I care too much about other people and things to my own detriment. I overextend my emotional attachment, which can be utterly exhausting. I know many of you can relate because I have conversations with people about this all the time.
The reason I chose the specific words, “I don’t care. I choose to be happy,” is to trick my mind. In other words, I use it to help slow down my overly caring mind to care at a more normal level where it doesn’t burn me out and cause emotional pain, which of course leads to more physical pain. I still care too much about certain things that it impacts my well-being, but I am getting better at not giving energy to areas that suck the life out of me. This phrase also helps me not ruminate about things as much.
If you are someone who is suffering from depression, you might want to be careful about using this phrase. However, if part of your depression comes from being disappointed by others, perhaps from giving so much of yourself and not getting much in return (in other words, you might be an “over-carer” like I described earlier), this might be an excellent motto or slogan for you to follow.
In the last few years, especially when working with coaching clients who have various health issues, I have become much more aware about the power of emotions and how much the mind and body are connected. So much so, that I don’t think we can reap the greatest benefit from our treatments and self-care, or enter a healing phase, if we are filled with anger, fear, hatred, jealousy, or anxiety, to name just a few intense emotions. And the source of these emotions often derive from caring too much about too many things that are often not that important. These emotions ramp up the chemical factory in the brain that create stress hormones that prohibit healing. For more about this, please see one of my other blogs called, The impact stress and emotions have on our health.
Please investigate your life to see where you are over-caring and probably over-exhausted. Stop putting your cares in those places so you can devote that energy to what truly matters. Life is short and time is precious, so use it wisely by caring about what is most important to you and be careful, for the sake of your health and well-being, that you don’t exhaust your energy in places it doesn’t belong.
Tom Seaman is a Certified Professional Life Coach in the area of health and wellness, and the author of 2 books: Diagnosis Dystonia: Navigating the Journey (2015) and Beyond Pain and Suffering: Adapting to Adversity and Life Challenges (2021. He is also a motivational speaker, chronic pain and dystonia awareness advocate, health blogger, volunteer for the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation (DMRF) as a support group leader, and is a member and writer for Chronic Illness Bloggers Network, The Mighty, Patient Worthy, and The Wellness Universe. To learn more about Tom, get a copy of his books (also on Amazon), or schedule a free life coaching consult, visit www.tomseamancoaching.com. Follow him on Twitter @Dystoniabook1 and Instagram.