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How Not to Care So Much

I always get into these really deep conversations with my friends… And one night we started talking about life, effort, relationships, and all that good stuff… Well, my friend Caleb asked, “If I care too much, what does not caring look like?” I said, well, I can tell you how not to care so much… Why would you do that? But, I can certainly tell you…

Caring is a natural human instinct that shows you can understand other people’s needs, emotions, and thoughts and that you value them.  But this can quickly take the wrong turn if you aren’t putting a cap on how far you’ll go for the happiness and contentment of other people.

It can be tricky to navigate these challenges, but you don’t have to feel alone. Many people struggle to find the sweet spot where they care about people and other things but don’t over-exhaust themselves by going out of their way.

It is important to realize that not everything can be under your control. Sometimes you have to let the water flow where it wants to go and bear the consequences of it. After all, it is only natural that life gives you both lemons and lemonade!

Is It A Bad Thing To Care So Much?

The answer to this is quite complicated. To put it plainly, if you have the ability to care about something or someone, it’s never a bad thing. In fact, caring about something or someone is fundamental to human nature because it shows that you are a good person who values the feelings and thoughts of other people around you.

However, it is when you start caring too much that it can become an issue. People who care too much are usually people pleasers; in that they care about other people’s opinions of them so much that they keep making compromises and giving up on their own comfort and happiness just as long as the other person is content.

Keep in mind that going the extra mile for someone you care about is a display of love and affection which is always seen in a good light. But it is when you overdo it that it becomes exhausting.

In time, you’ll find that you no longer feel joy or happiness just because you don’t seem to have the time to do what you want. You are always looking out for other people and what they want in a stand of focusing on you.

This is also bad for your mental health because you stop adding value to yourself and your needs. When you don’t care for yourself, you risk developing emotional and mental issues such as anxiety and depression.

But Why Do We Care So Much?

In many ways, people who care too much think that by pleasing others, they create a harmonious environment, and everyone loves them. But in reality, you might only be building superficial relationships with no weight or value. There are also chances for people to take advantage of you and attack your vulnerability.

People pleasers often feel like they are incompetent and inadequate, which sometimes leads to negative feelings like frustration and anger. It also leads to feelings of guilt, and for this, you end up overcompensating again. It’s a vicious cycle that no one can stop but you.

The moment you realize that you need to love and take care of yourself, is when you put an end to this constant need to be liked. If you’re always trying to make someone else happy even when you don’t feel too good about yourself, you’re only causing yourself mental and emotional stress.

How to not care so much: It's a choice that you make—how invested you'll be in anything... Work, relationships, friendships. It's all in your own control.
How to not care so much: It’s a choice that you make—how invested you’ll be in anything… Work, relationships, friendships. It’s all in your own control.

How To Know If You Care Too Much

Sometimes you might not even realize it, but you end up caring too much that it disrupts your life and other people’s as well. If you need help finding the line between caring enough and caring too much, look at the list below and see if you check the boxes on most, if not all, of them.

  • You are proud of your reputation for always being too nice.
  • It is the most difficult thing for you to say no to others, regardless of whether you like the idea.
  • You tend to go the extra mile for other people even when you don’t have to or they don’t need you to
  • You find yourself apologizing excessively for the tiniest hiccups.
  • You never have enough time for yourself or to do the things you want to.
  • You are constantly seeking the validation and approval of other people.
  • It is your goal in life to always avoid any conflict or differences in opinions.
  • You tend to compromise all the time when you never get things to go your way.
  • You regard other people’s choices, opinions, thoughts, and feelings to be much more valuable than your own
  • You have very low self-respect and self-esteem.
  • You don’t feel guilty even for things you didn’t do or for situations where you obviously couldn’t do anything else.
  • You can’t recognize yourself when you look in the mirror because you are always trying to be someone else for the sake of other people’s happiness.
  • You have a desperate need to be liked by everyone.
  • You hate the idea of someone being upset or mad because of something you said or did.

Expert advice: Relationships and friends are highly complex. Especially in the world of social media we live in. If you’re investing “too much” without much of it coming back—that’s a bad sign. That person could be showing NPD traits. Or worse yet, they may simply have a poor alignment of personal values.

Why Should You Stop Caring So Much?

Caring about something or someone is a quality that many would agree is a good thing. However, there are instances where when you care too much, it could prove to be detrimental to you.

For example, you tend to overthink when you care too much about something. Overthinking can lead to stress, and higher cortisol levels mean that you are feeding your anxiety.

There have been many studies over the years about how when your cortisol leaves are high, you can trigger many other health issues such as higher blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, and other mental health issues.

You’re doing a disservice to the relationship

If this is not reason enough for you to stop caring so much, there are also chances that you’re ruining the other person’s life by taking on too much of their responsibilities. When you show that you care too much about someone, they might become dependent on you or start relying on you for all their needs.

At some point, when you cannot be there for them anymore, whether for emotional or physical reasons, they experience a massive setback in their daily lives.

On the other hand, when you care too much, you unknowingly dictate much of the other person’s choices. You need to realize that everyone, at some point in their lives, needs to start living on their own and make their own decisions.

See also: Why don’t people like me?

There is a bad situation occurring, and you actually know it

People who care too much about another person are sometimes blinded by their love for the other person. They don’t see how making the choices for them and not allowing them to face reality might hamper their ability to live their lives normally.

So yes, caring about things and people is good quality, and it’s out of love that you’re going out of your way to do something for them, but at the end of the day, we all need to realize that we have our own lives to live. We wouldn’t like it if another person dictated what we do, where we go, and how we live our lives.

Likewise, it is also important to use this perspective when dealing with other people. There is a fine line between caring a lot about someone and caring too much that you suffocate them.

Sometimes caring too much can lead to sadness, hurt, and loneliness—the opposite of what you really wanted to create for yourself. This isn't the end, though...
Sometimes caring too much can lead to sadness, hurt, and loneliness—the opposite of what you really wanted to create for yourself. This isn’t the end, though…

Here Are Nine Ways You Can Start Caring Too Much

Try To Identify The Things That You Really Care About

Out of all the things you care deeply about, some things must not have as much value. Try to identify these persons or situations and focus on those instead of trying to focus on everything at once and end up falling short.

This way, you reduce your chances of failing and feeling dejected while also ensuring you only give your time to the things and people that matter.

Learn How To Say NO

Some people believe that saying No to people makes you a bad person, but that’s not the case. You can say No and still be a good person. It only matters what the context of the situation is.

Know that you are only one person, and you can’t always be at every one’s beck and call. You must learn how to manage your own time and prioritize yourself sometimes.

Expert advice: While much of this article is about pulling back or setting boundariesthere ARE real links between giving back and how that has an impact on your own happiness. Consider that!

Work On Building Your Self-Worth

External factors should not determine your self-worth. It should come from within. One of the main reasons you tend to care too much about a situation is that you are placing the value of your self-worth in the hands of someone else or the outcome of your situation.

However, when the outcome is unfavorable to you, you lose your sense of self-worth and blame yourself. The only way out of this is to start believing in yourself more and be a little less harsh on yourself.

Work on building your self-esteem by spending time doing things that bring you joy and surround yourself with people who genuinely love your company and support you in everything.

Learn How To Voice Out Your Opinions

Many times, people who care too much about other people’s opinions tend to keep quiet in the face of adversity or when faced with an opposing idea. Instead of saying no or debating your beliefs, you agree to do and say things you don’t want to.

Practice building your self-confidence and be firm in your beliefs. It’s not that you should never accept the opinions of others. Still, if they are talking about something that doesn’t sit right with you, you have the right to tell them that you disagree with it instead of hanging your head down and being miserable in the scenario.

Detach Yourself From Certain Situations When It’s Right

Detaching yourself from certain situations, even though you care about them, can be tricky, but sometimes that is the only way for you to stop caring so much. Being in such close quarters with the people or the situation you wish to disconnect from can become a burden because you are constantly reminded of that person or thing.

Sometimes it’s not even about your true emotions; it’s mostly due to unhealthy attachments you feel towards that person or the event. Only when you detach from them, you’ll get a sense of relief from the emotional and physical turmoil that wasn’t even yours, to begin with.

Practice Self-Appreciation

Take a moment to stop and evaluate how far you have come. Start appreciating yourself for all the effort and hard work you put into your life- in your work and for others.

Instead of always seeing things in a bad light, try listing down a few points of gratitude towards yourself. Learn to love yourself in all your flaws because no one is perfect, but our imperfections make us human.

Set Clear Boundaries

People pleasers like to please everyone. They feel it is their duty to say yes to everything and try to help everyone in the best way possible, even if it is not in their best interest.

The problem with this is that when you don’t establish your limits, you allow people to walk all over you, and in the end, you are left feeling like a failure, or at the very least, it disturbs your mental peace.

See also: How to set healthy boundaries

You Don’t Have To Be Liked By Everyone

Some people have this incessant need to be loved by everyone, so they end up contorting their beliefs and thoughts to fit the mold that someone else has deemed to be more important and valuable than their own.

It is important to learn early on that not everyone will like you, and you might not be everyone’s cup of tea, and that’s okay. We are not put on this earth to be everyone’s caregivers. It’s not your responsibility to cure every pain and nurture every needy soul.

You have to start looking out for yourself and taking care of your physical and mental health. When you make yourself your priority, there isn’t much that can push you into doing things that put you and your mental health in harm’s way.

Life Goes On

Whether you like it or not, the world will continue as it usually does. It doesn’t matter if you regret that you couldn’t fulfill the needs of someone or that there’s someone whose feelings are hurt because you weren’t around. The rest of the world will go on, and so will your life.

Time does not stop for anyone, and the sooner you learn this hard truth, the better it is for your mental health. Know that it’s okay to make a few mistakes and miss a few steps. The only thing to take away from such instances is what you learn and apply it to your life moving forward. Everything will work out if you give it a chance.

Fact checked:
Board reviewed by Marianne Tomlinson, LCSW (Couples and Family Therapy). Content is rigorously reviewed by a team of qualified and experienced fact checkers. Learn more.

About the author

Ryan Sanderson (LCSW) Ryan is a game and relationship enthusiast who enjoys all things quizzes, games, fun, love, relationships, and family. He's a licensed social worker and helps families, couples, and children in need. He's spoken about love and relationships on Salon.com, Forbes, and Mirror, to name a few.

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