When You Just Shouldn’t Give A Damn

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Part of living a bold life, a fearless life, is knowing when you just shouldn’t give a damn.

Sometimes we must have the courage, the guts, sometimes even the anger, to not care about the possible consequences so that we have the freedom to live life on our own terms.

In spite of the freedoms we’ve won as a nation over the last 236 years, in spite of civil rights, religious tolerance, women’s liberation, sexual freedom, and gay rights, we are in many ways less free to define and pursue happiness than we were when our country was young. In fact, we often have no idea what constitutes real happiness.

And sadly, this is of our own doing.

As we have advanced in technology and communication, we have eroded our capacity for discernment. Discernment is a powerful word with a more powerful meaning: it means ” discrimination; acuteness of judgment and understanding.”

We have lost our ability to discern for ourselves who we really are and what is deeply meaningful and important to us. Our acuteness of judgment and understanding has been dulled by the constant input of ideas and expectations from our culture.

How Information Has Undone Us

We receive more information, news, and subliminal messages in a day than our grandparents received in a year or more. If you are reading this post, you have a computer and likely have been bombarded with advertisements, news flashes, tweets, and enticements to dig yourself even deeper into the labyrinth of the Internet.

Years ago, we were taught our values from our parents and other older, wiser mentors in our communities. It wasn’t all perfect or useful, but much of it was, and the information was based on years of accumulated experience and wisdom. It served as a foundation for personal discernment and self-sufficiency.

Today it seems as though there’s a vast conspiracy to brainwash us with BS. We are led like lemmings off a cliff toward the illusion of happiness, but in reality it’s all smoke and mirrors with nothing substantial to catch us before we hit bottom.

Here are some examples of why you shouldn’t give a damn.

  • We learn about family life, relationships, and morality from the Kardashians and The Real Housewives of New Jersey.
  • We learn how to find true love in six weeks on The Bachelor and discover the art of intimacy on one of 4.2 million pornographic websites available at the click of a mouse.
  • This weekend you probably witnessed the holiday “tradition” of leaving our loved ones to drive off in our cars before dawn the day after (or day of) Thanksgiving, then to wait in line to spend money on things we don’t need. In fact, in this situation, the brainwashing was so thorough that many people were willing to be trampled (and some injured or killed) in order to get a “bargain.”
  • Women today see more images of impossible beauty standards on a given day than our mothers did during their entire lives. Cosmetic companies, the media, and the fashion industry, have set us up to line their pockets as they milk our insecurities and dreams.
  • We are told we must have the latest electronic gadget (iPhone, iPad, computer, big screen TV, etc.), only to allow these devices to further separate us from those we love.
  • We think in order to be “good” parents, our children must have these same gadgets, be involved in a myriad of extracurricular activities, have a car at 16, and stay financially dependent on us until they are 30.
  • The media talking heads and politicians send us so many conflicting and vitriolic messages that it has become impossible to know what is best or right for our country. They are so focused on making someone else wrong that discernment and creative solutions are lost in the tumult.

The Courage to Live by Your Own Rules

Why have we allowed this to happen? How have we gotten sucked into the vortex of living a false life — a life that we never defined for ourselves?

It takes courage to say, “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!”

It takes courage to say, “This is my life, and I’m making the rules here.”

It takes courage to say, “I don’t give a damn what ‘they’ are doing or saying or admonishing or threatening.”

Here are eleven ways I have stopped giving a damn in order to live according to my own personal operating system:

1. I just don’t give a damn about impressing others. I used to worry a lot about what other people thought of me. It left me in a constant state of anxiety about how to act and “who” to be. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t impress everyone, and I was exhausted from trying to figure it out. I’ve taken the time to decide who I really am, and I simply live as myself. It is so liberating.

2.I just don’t give a damn about being right. It used to make me angry when I couldn’t prove my point or win someone to my way of seeing things. I wasn’t rude about it, but inside I thought I knew best. Now I have a beginner’s mind and realize there is more than one truth, and that I can learn from everyone.

3. I just don’t give a damn about having perfect children. Or at least my concept of perfect. They are perfect because they are themselves. But I can no more control their destinies than I can control the seasons or the tides. This poem by Kahlil Gibran on children is one of the greatest lessons I’ve ever learned.

4. I just don’t give a damn about making someone feel guilty. Playing the guilt game is a back-door strategy to manipulate and whine. I state my truth about my feelings and expectations without trying to force someone take action based on guilt.

5. I just don’t give a damn about having more things. I have come to recognize that the more things I own, the more time and energy they drain from my life. I could do with far less and be just as happy — maybe happier.

6. I just don’t give a damn about living up to the expectations of others. Not that I don’t care about others, but I can no longer let them define my choices or actions. As adults, we must take full responsibility for who we are to enjoy the full freedom of living. Sometimes this requires making others angry or disappointing them. There are times to make sacrifices, but only we should decide that for ourselves.

7. I just don’t give a damn about political correctness. Human decency, basic manners, and my personal values serve as my guide — not some bound up ideas about avoiding offense at the cost of common sense and reality.

8. I just don’t give a damn about the ideal of beauty. Believe me, I have struggled with maintaining my appearance as much as the next girl. But aging has given me the freedom to view beauty differently. I don’t even pretend to keep up with media standards.

9. I just don’t give a damn about most TV. Most television programs are mindless drivel — especially many reality shows. There are some great programs that are entertaining and uplifting, but I’ve become less and less dependent on TV to fill my time.

10. I just don’t give a damn about tolerating bad behavior. Deceit, chronic selfishness, unkindness, manipulation, and other adult bad behaviors are no longer worth putting up with on a regular basis. I’ve learned to release unhealthy relationships if there is no hope for healing or change.

11. I just don’t give a damn about failure. I don’t like it, but I’ve come to embrace it as a stepping stone to learning, achieving, and growing as a person. Now, rather than resist or deny it, I try to look for the lesson and the opportunity it holds and have a growth mindset.

Is there a circumstance in your life in which you’ve decided you just don’t give a damn? Are you fed up with living according to rules or expectations that don’t feel healthy or worthwhile?

Maybe it’s time to get mad as hell and proclaim, “I’m not going to take it anymore!” It could be the best thing that has ever happened to you.

Comments

  1. Hi Barrie,

    Lovely and eye catching title you have there! It is certainly what drew me in. :D

    But it is not about not giving a damn, it is knowing when we should and should not. This is one of the keys to living, the ability to discern what we should and should not do and when.

    It is true, in this day and age, there is so much information everywhere that I have become very selective about what I choose to read and watch. After all, what we nourish our minds with is just as important, if not more so, than what we choose to nourish our bodies with. Trying too hard to follow ideals that are not suited to our nature will only lead to gross unhappiness. One man’s meat is another man’s poison after all.

    I enjoyed reading your 11 ways to stop giving a damn and to live in accord with your own personal operating system.

    I love the link to the poem by Kahlil Gibran! The Prophet is one of my favourite books and he writes with so much wisdom and insights into life about many subjects.

    Like you I don’t really try to live up to the expectations of others because I have to take responsibility for and define my own life. But where possible, I still listen to what they have to say in case I might have missed some crucial insights about a situation. It is good to listen to advice and suggestions, but at the end of the day, we must always form our own conclusions and not blindly follow others.

    I guess it is not surprising that you have written so passionately about this since you are a Leo haha! As an Aries, I certainly share your views.

    Thank you for sharing this lovely article!

    Irving the Vizier

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hello dear Irving,
      I’m glad the title drew you in. I think the reason I used such a strong title and strong words (beyond my being a Leo!) is that the attempts at manipulation of our lives seem to be at a full peak right now. Especially here in the U.S. We are inundated with messages to purchase crap, and now even told that we aren’t supporting our economic recovery if we don’t go spend our money. Our politicians remain polarized and can’t get anything done. Yes, there is a tinge of frustration and anger in this post. Sometimes when you’ve been toyed with, you have to get mad to finally realize when you’ve had enough! :)

      • Ms. Barrie, you’re a Leo?! Thanks for that tidbit Mr. Irving.

        I’m a Leo too, and although I’m not a full-fledged- horoscope reader/subscriber, I do find some truth in the descriptions offered for people based on their astrological signs.
        With that being said, Ms. Barrie, you are a star! And yes, for many reasons beyond being a “Leo”, one of them being this blog, and of course this post.
        I agree with a lot of what you say, in fact just about everything with the exception of how you suggest to “not give a damn.” Granted, it is a catchy title but I must admit, I was surprised to sense the tone of your anger and frustration.

        I lead my life the exact way you offer in your 11 examples but I do it in LOVE. Love for God, Love for myself, Love for others, and Love of everything Life has to offer. It feels good and better than doing so in anger. I used to be angry, walked around with a chip on my shoulder, had that “I don’t care what you think, or say, I’m gonna do what I want” mentality. But now that I do it in the name of LOVE, I feel lighter, warmer, and find that people respond to me in a trusting fashion. Truth be told, reading your words have often contributed to my feelings of love and appreciation for life. Like many of your readers, I too, find it comforting to know there are other people with similar thoughts and actions in this overly-stimulated, media-infused world.

        Thank you for writing another thought-provoking piece and for letting me share my two cents.

        With love and respect,
        Ces

        • Barrie Davenport says:

          Hi Ces,
          Thank you for your lovely comments and kind words. I agree that love is almost always the best way to approach life. But we are human after all, and sometimes anger can be positive if channeled correctly. Sometimes it can be a catalyst for change. I spent much of my life suppressing angry feelings because I didn’t want to rock the boat or upset anyone. But anger can be a very useful barometer of what isn’t working in your life. Don’t get me wrong with this post Ces. I’m not an angry person. I’m very happy and balanced for the most part. But there are seasons and reasons for every emotion. :)

    • Hi Berrie,

      I read the entire article and I just wanted to say KUDOS, what you have written is one of the most honest things that I have ever read and trust me when i say that i mean it from the bottom of my heart. Most people are just not worth the time and sincerity we show them and as it is better to “Not Give a Damn”, it is damn too relieving get out of such relationships than to destroy ourselves by caring for them, its better to move on and find someone who sees us with the same honesty that we show them.

      Cheers,
      Karthik

  2. Wow you are on target with this post!

    It’s time for most of us to live by our own standards instead of society’s norms, and be role models for others who have a hard time doing so.

    I’ve just discovered your site but I’m looking forward for other great blog post as this one.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi Marie-Eve,
      I am thrilled you found my blog and sincerely hope you will visit regularly. Thank you for your kind comments. Sometimes it’s hard to know what our own standards are until we experience what they aren’t! :)

  3. Greetings Barrie,

    One of the truly neat things about aging is that we have an easier time of seeing things in our lives as they really are. All kinds of stuff that we worried and fretted about for years is meaningless crap (sorry) that never deserved our time or attention. As seniors, we now have the luxury of looking at issues, or what have you, and proclaiming, “I just don’t give a damn.”

    “Simplicity, Sincerity, Serenity”…the only way to go :-)!

    All the best,

    Jon

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Right on Jon!! And you’re right, it is meaningless crap. I wish I’d figured that out years ago. BTW, I’m sure 52 is old enough to be considered a senior, but I’m still clinging to my ego enough to resist the title. Inside, I still feel 30!

  4. hi Barrie, I agree with everything you said. We should learn to be fearless in doing things we are passionate about. Fear is really paralyzing if we don’t learn to overcome it. Pleasing other people is a sure way of getting stuck in an unfulfilled life.

    It’s true what technology has done to us as a society. Same here in the Philippines, technology is “discipling” the Filipino youth on how to behave and conduct themselves, and oftentimes it doesn’t turn out great.

    Thanks for the post!

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi Raymund,
      It is really devastating that youth are exposed to so many unrealistic, unattainable lifestyle expectations. Technology has enhanced our lives in many ways, but there is a dark side. My teenagers communicate far more by text than they do with actual face to face interactions. They get bored so easily without some kind of electronic stimulation. Ugh — I’m beginning to sound like my mother! :)

  5. Not that you give a DAMN about my opinion (LOL!), but I wanted to let you know your post today validated that (not that it matters!) I am NOT the only one living life this way (some of those in my life have stated that it’s IMPORTANT to care what others think about me, about what I look like, about “stuff”, and have nothing to discuss with me because I do not own a TV. I don’t want to get lost in semantics; but I don’t give a fig for their opinions, which do not work for the way I live my life).

    I still have my tattered copy of The Prophet, from 8th grade, when I read it so often I memorized long passages. What a gift to have discovered it and be able to incorporate such ideals, so early in my life!

    His lines on children gave me the freedom to realize that if I chose to have none, it was OK, since they were just passing through my life anyway. From his point of view, I can treat all the children passing through my life as mine!!

    His lines on love have defined how I know I’m living my life with passion:
    “But if in your fear you would seek only love’s peace and love’s pleasure,
    Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and
    pass out of love’s threshing floor,
    Into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter,
    and weep, but not all of your tears.”

    I choose to live fully; to laugh all of my laughter and weep all of my tears, and I do NOT give a damn to do otherwise!!! I love you and this blog, Barrie!

    And yes, Irving, I’m also an Aries… LOL!

    Meg

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Oh Meg, I do give a damn about your opinion! I know you were kidding, but I am writing for you and all of my readers after all. It is such a blessing that you truly know yourself and who you are. You may march to the beat of a different drummer than some in your circle, but you will be attracting many who march to your beat! That’s who you want to surround yourself with anyway.
      I also read The Prophet many times as a young person, and it had the same affect on me. I had forgotten that line about laughter and tears. I’m so glad you reminded me. I’ll have to go back and read that poem again.

  6. Dear Barrie, I just love you for writing this post. YES YES YES!!! This is SO powerful and so true. It just made me feel empowered to simply read your thoughts. I love that you walk the edge and did so in this article. It is one I won’t forget. So often personal development is so “nice”. And that is okay and even needed at times. However, I just LOVE this gutsy side of you. Bring it on! LOL! :) I REALLY connect with it. This is one of the best articles I’ve read. It simply ROCKS!!

    I needed to hear all this.
    Bless you beautiful soul, and HUGE hugs of gratitude.
    Robin :)

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Since “damn” is the word of the day, then all I can say is, “Damn Robin — you have made my day!!” I am thrilled the post resonated with you. I have been feeling empowered lately — but ironically by some anger. So many of the situations I mentioned in the post have really stirred me up. Sometimes anger is a very productive emotion, especially for women since we’ve been “trained” not to show it. Anger can motivate and expose the “real” you. Thank you, thank you for your kind words. You never know how a post like this will go over, but your encouragement has motivated a happy dance right here at my desk! :)

      • Oh, dear Barrie, you have touched me SO deeply. And you have said something here that is so true and that I too have been feeling. You said: “I have been feeling empowered lately — but ironically by some anger.” I think that is so beautiful and honest. So clean. I resonate so much.

        We often think of anger as something that’s BAD and must be done away with, We feel guilty or ashamed of our anger, as if it makes us “less than”, or not spiritually evolved. I think we take the “guts” and soul out of ourselves (and personal development) when we believe that. I think anger (like any emotion) just depends on how we channel it and whether we do so consciously, like you are doing her so beautifully, so boldly. So empowering.

        Anger can actually be a life-giving emotion. At one of it’s most basic levels (survival) anger can give us (or any species) the energy needed to fight for our lives or the lives our young. Whether we are attacked by a crazed human or a wild animal. In essence it is hardwired into us for survival, if needed.

        Anger also, can help us say, “Enough is enough.” I feel there are many things in the world that we need to say “enough is enough” to. When we don’t allow our healthy anger to have its right place, it stays in us and comes out in indirect and often distorted ways, even in controlling those around us so that we don’t have feel our own anger, etc.

        I often feel that we have lost our healthy anger. There are many things in the world that we could do well to be a bit more outraged about. :) AND we could use that outrage to take positive action, set clear boundaries, feel a strong sense of self, speak up when others don’t dare to, set ourselves free of should(s) and supposed to(s), set others free of repression, injustice, and so on.

        I also think there are tons of things in the world that we need to NOT give a damn about, like you so wisely said, TV, beauty perfection, and so. YES! And as you said in your comment to Irving: “…the attempts at manipulation of our lives seem to be at a full peak right now.” I agree. It’s just how aware of them we are. Many have fallen asleep at the wheel.

        Dear Barrie, I just have to again say, this post is THE BEST thing I’ve read in so long, I can’t remember when I read something better. Don’t let anything or anyone make you back down or retreat. THAT is what often happens when we express our anger or don’t give a damn about BS. There can be subtle forces (or not so subtle forces) that can manipulate us back into silence, back into “our place”, back into just being “nice”, tidy, and uneventful, so that we do not rock that boat. You rock away, girl!! :)

        The title for this just brought tears to my eyes, just as did the WHOLE post. I cannot thank you enough. In fact, I printed this whole thing out, which I almost never do, so I could share it with my husband when he gets home. You are truly beautiful and I see you. Hugs of deep gratitude. Robin

        You don’t need to respond to this as I know you are busy. :) Just THANK YOU!!

        • Barrie Davenport says:

          Robin, how could I not respond. I am beyond touched. “You are truly beautiful and I see you” — that brought tears to my eyes. To be “seen” is one of the validating experiences one can have. Thank you. :) BTW, I have sister named Robin (who also sees me). It must be a sisterly name.

  7. PS: And I LOVE the photo of the little girl just striding off in her red dress and shoes, full of purpose and determination, knowing EXACTLY who she is and what she’s about. YEAH!!! I know I already said this, but this is the best thing I’ve read in AGES!! You go girl. Wow!! :) Just hugging you, Barrie!!!

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      I know! She is one feisty little cookie, isn’t she? She’s got something to say and she’s off to say it! Hugging you too Robin.

  8. Debbie OBrien says:

    As a Cancer (astrology and the word “damn” being the secondary theme of the day), I am sensitive to others and want to keep the waters calm at any cost. The person who loses out most of the time is me. And while I have marched to the beat of a different drummer for many years (ignoring beauty and clothing trends and having a major disdain of television and most media ), I find that I am know as the easy going person. Which most people like of course because they can get their way. While I have learned a great deal from being exposed to different activities, I am realizing that I lost myself in the process. I am just beginning to show my “true colors” and have recieved mixed responses. Due to this, I am considering ending some friendships. The funny thing is that I don’t feel bad…In fact I feel rather good about it!

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Debbie,
      I can so relate to everything you have said. I have been that same easy going person. But once I started establishing my boundaries and asking for what I needed, I rocked the boat. It does impact relationships, but eventually you must decide, “It’s either me or them.” The friends you do keep with be an amazing group who accept you for YOU!! :)

  9. What a great post! And so timely for me! It seems I’m constantly struggling with my relationship with my ex husband where our kids are concerned. It took a few years post-divorce to un-program myself from his way of thinking… He’s always been a “keeping up with the Joneses” type and often turns his nose up at anyone who doesn’t march to the beat of his drummer. For the longest time after we split up I still worried a lot about what he thought and how he felt about what I was doing with my life. Once I decided not to give a damn about what he thought – and just lived my life authentically to ME – I felt like a HUGE weight was lifted from my shoulders. Unfortunately, that also caused a lot of conflict in my relationship with him because I was no longer bowing to his every whim.

    I’m scheduled for a c-section this coming Friday and will be giving birth to my fourth daughter, my second child that is not his… and he is disgusted. I do pity him… but I am happier than I have ever been in my life – with myself, my family, my children, my husband, my career, etc. That doesn’t mean I don’t still have problems because I do… but as for my ex’s temper tantrums about the choices I’ve made or anyone who supports his point of view… frankly, I don’t give a damn! :-)

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Sheri,
      You have had quite a journey! I so admire your courage to untangle yourself from an unhealthy situation and embrace yourself fully. Congratulations on bringing another beautiful child into the world. You have so much good in your life — you don’t need to give a damn about negativity and bad behavior. :)

  10. sophia fernandess says:

    Hi Barrie
    Thanks for this wonderful post, it just spoke to my heart and struck a chord in my heart too….You are wonderful Barrie and your post come to me as a welcome gift to lift my spirit..you truly have an amazing Heart and mind…so blessed are you to be so free …your post speaks of total liberation
    Hope to do wonders in the lives of those who seek this freedom
    love you Barrie for just being you in all that you say
    sophie

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Dear Sophia,
      Thank you for being you! I think about you often and hope you will find the path that leads you to total contentment. Keep moving forward . . .

  11. sophia fernandess says:

    Hi Barrie
    Thanks for this wonderful post, it just spoke to my heart and struck a chord in my heart too….You are wonderful Barrie and your post come to me as a welcome gift to lift my spirit..you truly have an amazing Heart and mind…so blessed are you to be so free …your post speaks of total liberation
    Hope to do wonders in the lives of those who seek this freedom
    love you Barrie for just being you in all that you say
    sophia

  12. You know, as kids, we are taught to listen to our elders. The problem is that our elders see the world through their own filters on how they experienced the world—the world at that time. As you said, some of the advice was valuable and some advice, not so valuable.
    As we grow up, we try and fit into the world by leaving our authenticity behind, and by trying to meet everyone’s expectations. I have also found that this does not work for me.

    What I have come to realized is just how wonderfully unique we are and that we do have much to contribute to this wonderful world. We have our own unique way at looking at things and a wonderful spirit. The world needs your unique point of view. I love that you are changing the paradigm to more freedom of the human spirit.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi Cris,
      I wonder if it’s possible to escape that pattern of living up to expectations before we reach middle age! My paradigm has definitely shifted — but not without some fear and pain. Thank you, as always, for your thoughtful comments.

  13. Came to your website through a blog……when time comes, you get whatever you want….and this article came in right moment to further bestow my belief in my self…….

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      I am so glad it came to you at the right time! I hope you will come back again — or become a subscriber. :)

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