It’s been a while since I’ve sat in front of my computer with the intention to write for fun. I convinced myself I don’t have time to write simply for the fun of it. Now, that I am writing for fun and the topic I am writing about is caring, I’m left questioning, why I stopped doing something I think is fun. Is it a lack of time or a lack of caring to write? Let’s think about this together and be honest with ourselves. If we truly care about something or someone, doesn’t it make sense that we would find the time for it or them? If we care, it means it is something that brings us to a better place when we devote time to it. Same with people, when we care about them, we find the time to spend being with them because they make us better and we feel better being around them. When we care and consciously spend our resources doing or being with who or what are important to us, we are provided with a wonderful return. Whether its moments of laughter, a completed blog post, or a great workout we are better for investing the time and energy.
Ironically, this is the first time I looked up the definition of what it means to care even though I spend most of my time as a coach asking people what they value and what is important to them, i.e., what motivates them to care, what causes them to care, how do they show they care? When I read the definition: to feel concern or interest, to attach importance to something my choice to write and the topic I am writing about made sense. When we stop to think about our lives and how we live in terms of the care we give and the care we receive it puts things in an interesting perspective. If we convince ourselves we don’t have the time, energy, or money (resources) to care, we are cutting ourselves off from living fulfilled and joyful. Spending more time at the office rather than with family and friends, not taking the time to exercise, get outside, eat a well-balanced meal, or create mindfulness practices are clear indications that there is a lack of self-care. Self-care is the first level of caring. When we don’t spend the time, energy, or money to care for ourselves, it is difficult to care for others. It becomes very easy to look the other way and allowing caring to slip away.
Over the past several years people have felt tapped. They lack energy, time, and money and this lack of resources has affected their ability to care. Caring and kindness are what make human beings special and allow us to connect with one another and feel love, acceptance, and nurturing. When we stop carving out the time to care, are we allowing our humanity to escape us? We are unconsciously moving away from what is important to use and we slowly lose our capacity to care. When we move through the world rushed, reacting and without feeling, we eventually put aside what is important to us and we temporarily stop caring. The important things and people are temporarily set aside as we race through our days. Forgetting to hug our partners or children when we race out the door to start our day, to call friends and family, or remind someone how much we love them may not seem like a big deal in the moment but when we habitually forget the important people and things, we create a pattern that pulls us away from acts of caring.
How we care for ourselves, how we utilize our time and who we spend our time with shows what is important to us. The ability to make conscious choices to care, to love, to demonstrate compassion and kindness define us as human beings. To compassionately care is distinctly a human trait and when we are void of caring, suffering emerges. When we quickly dismiss people and things by saying, “I don’t care, there’s nothing I can do about it”, we deny our feelings and our humanity. Next time you are quick to shout out, “I don’t care,” ask yourself if that is really the truth, or are you putting up a wall to protect yourself from getting hurt and suffering for caring too much. Caring brings hurt and disappointment because of the emotions associated with it. I am guilty of throwing around the “I don’t care” line when I get frustrated and am at a loss for what to do or say. Shutting things down with an “I don’t care” is quick and easy, but certainly not a true depiction of how I really feel.
In fact, I caught myself last night throwing out a very haphazard “I don’t care” while asking my son to start his homework. He’s a teenager and homework is not his favorite thing, not even close to it. Every night we exchange the same the words, which end up with me basically pleading with him to do his homework. Last night out of complete frustrate, I told him I didn’t care if he did his homework or not. This is so not true! Not even close to being the truth, so why did I say it? In the moment I unskillfully blurted out “I don’t care” out of frustration and a loss for anything else to say or do. I love my son, am concerned about his well-being and his education is important to me. If I can easily declare that I don’t care about my son doing his homework when I undoubtedly do care, how easy is it to dismiss people and things outside of our homes.
Lately, it feels as though we have collectively let out a very loud, “I don’t care” in the name of dismissing all that has been frustrating us. We have stopped caring for ourselves and the world around us because of the level of frustration and hopelessness we feel along with the lack of personal resources. It’s hard to find time for self-care because work and family demands are high, inflation is affecting us financially and we are feeling the strain of living in a world full of hatred and corruption. When we don’t take the time to care for ourselves, the level of compassion we feel for others lessens. When compassion diminishes, frustration and anger take over. We disconnect ourselves from people and things we really do care about. We say we don’t care about the corruption in governments and corporations, the homeless people living under bridges, those who are food insecure and those suffering from war and genocide because we are overwhelmed and don’t have the capacity (resources) to care not because we lack compassion, kindness and caring. I get tired of hearing people say, no know cares anymore. I think we do care.
As we move closer to the end of another year and start to think about the upcoming year, make plans, set goals, and promises for better let’s put caring for ourselves and one another first. Think of one thing you can do every morning before your day gets too busy to care for yourself. This could be time to work out, meditate, sit with a cup of coffee or tea, read, journal, or do nothing, whatever brings you joy. Self-care fills us up and reminds us that we are important. Now think about three friends/ family members write down their names in one column, in the next column write something down that you would like to do for them to show them you care, in the third column put the date down for when you will do it. It can be as simple as a phone call, an invite to dinner or sending them a card to let them know how you feel about them. When we choose to use our resources to show we care and remind ourselves the importance of care we lessen the effects of all the negativity in the world and we fill ourselves up with goodness. Using our resources to remind people they are important with small acts of caring puts a focus back on kindness and compassion. They shift our energy and time back to what is important to us and make us better. And spending the time and energy to be better is always a great investment.
May your holiday season be filled with joy, peace and caring.