Melanie's Musings

Life on the Other Side experiment – Here’s what I learnt

Ten days ago I hit my limit. I didn’t have any cares left. I was worn out, stressed and so tired of caring so much….about everything.

I was exhausting myself caring too much about every little thing, and giving too much of my time and energy to caring for my family.

So, I decided to quit. To just stop caring so much.

You know, there seems to be these people who don’t really care terribly much about terribly much. They don’t get stressed and worn out because they’re giving so much energy to caring/worrying. These people do selfish well – they take care of their needs because they prioritise them.

I wondered if perhaps life on the ‘Other Side’ – the cool, calm, collected, easy, breezy, side may be the answer to my extended period of feeling unmotivated and “bleurgh”.

And so began Life on the Other Side: a stressed, worn-out mum’s experiment in not caring.

I blogged for the first few days, and then stopped because I didn’t feel like it, and I figured the whole idea of the experiment was to not care about doing the things I didn’t feel like doing. Rather than pushing myself to do something just because I felt I had to, I observed and reflected without recording for about a week.

Anywho, here’s what I learnt from the past 10 days of my experiment:

1. I can’t just not care. The effort of not caring was exhausting! It’s not me. And, if anything, trying not to care confirmed for me that I don’t want to not care. Caring for others is part of me. My life purpose is to care, and trying to deny or ignore that made me feel so much worse.

2. My problem was never that I care too much, it’s that I care too much about too much. I can’t care too much about my loved ones – it’s just not a thing, and I don’t want it to be. I am grateful that it is easy for me to care so much about my children & loved ones. Having said that, I recognise now that I totally do care too much about things that really don’t matter in the grand scheme of things. You know, like how the clothes are hung on the line (still working on not caring about that one).

3. I’ve got some improvements to make in how much I care about myself and my needs, and where I put my health & wellbeing on my priority list. I know, I know – because I say it other mums all of the time: take care of me first, or I won’t be able to take care of anybody else. I know it well. I’ve lived with the after effects of ignoring me for too long – i.e. fibromyalgia – and I do not want to be there again, ever.

4. I don’t have an ON/OFF switch for caring (and grateful for that!), but I can (learn to) control my thoughts, reactions and behaviours. I may care that, once again, someone has left an empty toilet roll on top of the spare toilet rolls, that’s fine. However, instead of running with the thought of how I always have to do everything for everyone else, and then passive-aggressively slamming some cupboard doors, I can be grateful that we even have toilet rolls in the house (2020 first-world problem, am I right!), remain calm, and move on with my day.

5. It’s so obvious to me now just how much precious emotional energy I can save myself by simply choosing a more positive, helpful thought in the moment. Oh, the energy I waste once I get on a negative thought train! I think I may have discovered the trick to sustainable caring!

It was an unexpectedly exhausting experiment, and I didn’t achieve my intention of not caring. But, fellow tired, worn-out mums, I hope you’ve been able to learn something from my experience. I hope by sharing this with you, none of you will ever get to the point of being done with caring, of just not having any shits left to give.

If not, do I care?

….yeh, I probably do

….just a little bit though – that’s growth right there folks! 😉

Yours in health,

Melanie

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