“I want to care, but I just don’t right now.”

Have you experienced the apathy that comes with extra stress or grief?

People have a limited amount of care they can invest in life tasks. When we are are processing something big, like grief, we don’t have as much ability to invest emotionally in stuff that usually matters to us.

I noticed this years ago when I went through a bout of depression related to my divorce. I found myself unable to do the extra labor to clean out to-go containers so they could be properly recycled.

I would burst into tears and just throw things full in the trash. I could not muster the caring to do more, even though my inner critics (and the values I normally hold) said I should care.

 

bunny with its ear wrapping around covering its eyes. Tex above says "I can't"

 

Even when we have a big heart and strong values, it’s important to normalize that our capacity to care has limits. When our capacity is being spent on something big and ongoing, we don’t have as much care we can devote to smaller things.

I bring this up because it’s so important to give ourselves grace when our ability to care is diminished. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad or unfeeling person who doesn’t care about the environment or your friendships or your job.

When we understand that this is a normal psychological process, we can practice being compassionate to ourselves about letting things slide when we are taxed, traumatized, or grieving.

 

gif of a desk with pencils and a notepad on it. The notepad has words appearing that read "you have permission to be human".Credit: IntoAction

When you’re going through something hard, how do you prioritize what you care about?

Can you set aside time to NOT care for a while?

I promise, things to care about will still be there after you take a break. You can pick up loving things fiercely again when you’re ready.

 

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