In December, I’ll be facilitating a 3 day Relationships Retreat with my husband assisting (who is wonderful with The Work). We’re inviting anyone who wishes to do The Work on an important or stressful relationship: partner, child, boss, mother, father, relative, friend, sibling. Find out more HERE.
Speaking of stressful, difficult relationships….
Someone in Year of Inquiry brought a powerful situation and thought to our group inquiry call.
Many stressful situations have appeared already in our group calls, since everyone’s taken the dive into their first Judge Your Neighbor worksheets–a moment of suffering, resentment, sadness, despair, worry.
This particular thought can be so very painful, when you believe it:
She doesn’t care about me.
Maybe it’s “he” or maybe it’s “they” in your situation.
People think this very painful thought about love relationships, family members, companies, bosses, employees, children, schools, the government.
They don’t care, and I feel horrible, lonely, left out because of it.
Like the inquirer who so beautifully explored his situation yesterday on our group call, I was a bit amazed at how often this belief has come to surface in my mind and awareness.
That person doesn’t care, because they don’t turn towards me, ask me questions, look at me. Or they say something mean. They criticize me. They dismiss me. They fire me. They ignore me.
(I’ve also had the thought someone cares too much about me, LOL, but that’s for another day).
Let’s start at the very beginning.
Remember that time, when you felt Not Cared About? Maybe it goes way back, into childhood, or maybe it happened yesterday.
She or he doesn’t care about you….is it true?
YES! She’s never responded, written, called, texted….nada. I’m getting the silent treatment. If she cared, I’d hear from her. She wouldn’t have cut me off!
Can you absolutely know it’s true?
This was the same answer as the inquirer in Year of Inquiry yesterday. Yes, Yes, Yes. It’s true, and absolutely true. I know what caring looks like, and it’s not this.
How do you react when you believe they don’t care about you?
Devastated. Lost. Self-critical.
I have images of the future, and they’re all bad. Failure, or me lying all alone in my house, no one else around. I feel abandoned, sad and frightened.
I review what I did….thinking it must have been wrong. If I had been nicer, or asked her questions earlier, maybe this lack of caring could have been prevented. I attack myself for not seeing it more clearly in the past.
And I definitely attack her. Look at what she’s like….she’s ridiculous. I make a great case in court for her being a lousy person, which explains everything, right?
But who would I be without my story of that person not caring about me?
In our telegroup when the inquirer was looking at this question, he couldn’t really find who he’d be. Too difficult.
I like the exercise of pretending we’re watching a movie of the situation we think is “proof” of lack of caring.
In my situation I’m one of the characters in the scene of course, and I’m looking at myself. There’s me, sitting all alone in my cottage in silence, with empty space in the room and no good friend who I thought cared. I have no returned call, no letter, no text, no voicemail. Just silence and quiet.
Who would that woman be (who is me), sitting alone in her cottage living room, without the belief that someone else in the world does not care (in my case, an old friend)?
The inquirer in our Year of Inquiry group looked at himself in a restaurant, watching his partner not include him in the conversation. Man eating a nice meal, looking around, noticing people, the environment.
If that man didn’t have the thought “she doesn’t care about me” who would he be?
Who would I be?
Relaxed. Feeling the room. Watching. Noticing so much going on in that scene, that environment. Couch, desk, pen, rug.
Could silence be “care”?
Except for my mind’s judgments about silence and quiet and no one being there….I might find the quiet very beautiful, very supportive, and very connected. Even magical.
She does care about me.
Could this be just as true, or truer?
I suppose. She’s not hurting me, like yelling at me or taking away my stuff, or breaking something I like. She’s leaving me alone.
Actually, she’s taken me very seriously–so seriously she’s chosen to not ever respond to me or write back, or call, when I’ve reached out. She’s cared very, very much. She’s working through her own process. It doesn’t require contact with me, at the moment.
Turning the thought around again: I don’t care about me.
Do you criticize yourself? Ruminate on what you said or did “wrong”?
I sure did, in my situation. I thought I should have been more clear with her, read her better, been sharper, or more easy-going. I told myself I shouldn’t care, too, when I really did. Which was not very caring.
Turning it around again: I don’t care about her.
In that situation, how is this just as true?
I don’t relax, and let her be herself, moving on into a life without me actively in it. I don’t like her silent treatment. I rip her to shreds in my mind and see pictures of her deserving to suffer.
“There’s no release or escape from yourself until you leave him alone and focus on your own turnarounds. Changing him [her] will no longer be your life’s work. You can be your life’s work. You’re the one who believes in change.” ~ Byron Katie in I Need Your Love–Is That True?
The quickest way to peace with that person who doesn’t care?
Leave them alone. Question my own caring. Redefine skewed ideas of what “care” is. Notice. Rest.
Plus, October 4-day retreat in northeast Seattle 10/18-10/22, five more spots for commuters. Gorgeous setting, I’ll help you find an AirBnB nearby if you’re traveling (and if you want to sleep on the couch/air mattress at the retreat house, that works, too).