I think one of the biggest reasons why we suffer so much is because we care too much. We care about what people have to say about us, we care about who we are in comparison to other people, and we care so much about how our actions and speech are perceived in the eyes of judgment. It’s wild that we care so deeply about the perceptions we can’t be controlled. It really doesn’t matter what we do… we will be judged. As a result, we become shy, people pleasers trying to get others to like us. This certainly was me with shells that I’m still working to break. It’s just so much easier to not care.
When we stop caring about the judgment of others, there’s no need to suffer. There’s no need to put our value in effort, or other material things that mean nothing. Let’s be real. If we could live in a small, quaint house with only the things we need knowing that we’d be unconditionally loved by every person we’d meet, we’d totally do it. There would be no need for fancy cars, fancy clothes, mansions, or anything else we only buy to impress others. In the same way, we only work hard and accomplish goals to prove to others that we are worth something. If we knew people would love us unconditionally, we’d all be lazy. You think you are accomplishing goals for yourself, but really ask yourself why.
I’ve found it easier to get rid of things than accumulate them. I like the ease of not caring. I can equally buy something without caring about the price and give away something without worrying about how much I paid for it. It’s quite liberating. I don’t really have to think about whether someone approves of anything that I do as long as I am holding on to my values. As long as love, peace, happiness, and joy are within me, nothing else on the outside really matters. This allows me to not suffer as much as I used to.
A Learned Behavior
I, much like most children, started life as careless. This is how I know caring about things is a learned behavior. A baby doesn’t care about how you feel when they spit up on you. They’ll smile at you and you have no choice, but to smile back. This way of being gets driven out of us the older we get. I was pretty carefree until I received my first full-time job. From that point, there was this overwhelming need to prove myself. I’ve seen the pattern with most newcomers who are just entering the job market. We find ourselves trying to prove that we belong with the work that we do. I’m now more than eight years deep in working in my industry and I can tell you quite comfortably that I just don’t care.
You too can learn how to care less about what other people think. A good place would be where I started my self-help journey with The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson. It’s a great book that helps you free yourself from the pressures of caring way too much about survival. How liberating would it be to just be your unfiltered, unapologetic self? Am I condoning that intentionally hurt people? Not at all. What I am saying is that we shouldn’t be afraid to be ourselves even if that means being perceived unfavorably by someone else. The perception of other people does not change your value.
Perfectionism Comes from Judgment
Instead of being a perfectionist while showing your worth through your work, be silly. That’s your natural self. Go to the point where you embarrass yourself and the only thing you can do is laugh. You don’t have to be buttoned up all the time. It shows a lack of vulnerability and shuts the diversity of human beings into the personalities of robots.
They say in order to be good at public speaking, picture everyone naked. How about instead you picture yourself naked and still speaking regardless? I’m sure you’ll have a better presentation. You’re not just projecting your fear onto other people for a finite amount of time, but confronting your fear by making yourself even more vulnerable. Don’t be afraid to be dumb. Ask the stupid question if you really want the answer. If you’re trying to be perfect, you aren’t being perfect. Perfection is an identity, not a judgment based on your or others’ viewpoints.
Another practice that has me caring less about just about anything is my willingness to do things on my own. I’m very much comfortable going to dinner or the movies on my own. I don’t know a lot of people who can say this. When I say this to friends, I’m usually made fun of but guess what, I could care less.
I’m not doing things because my friends want to do them and I don’t need friends to do what I want to do. The connection that you have with friends is a wonderful thing, but if friends are disappointed when you don’t agree to plans, or vice versa, the inclination is to give in to doing what your friends want to do. There can be days when you do something different and that’s totally fine. Read your book instead of going to the club. Take that nap. Go on an adventure without making any plans and just enjoy being.