Could caring too much choke off your ability to feel at ease in life? Yes, it can.
Although it’s essential to care about yourself, others, your goals, and the state of the world, you can only care so much until your emotions knot you up like a tangled fishing line.
The solution is not to give up on caring about anything but to learn when to stop caring.
Many things are outside of your control. No matter how much you care, you cannot overcome that chaotic truth.
To enjoy life more and stress less, you need to avoid binding your emotions to things that you can’t influence or just don’t matter.
Why Do I Care So Much?
Your positive traits can make you vulnerable to sweating the details more than is mentally healthy for you.
As a thoughtful and conscientious person, you probably scrutinize how others will perceive your actions. You crave their approval or recognition.
Common reasons for excessive caring are:
- Wanting to help someone
- Focusing too narrowly on results
- Failing to accept that you can’t control everything
- Feeling too responsible for what happens
- Needing positive feedback from others about your considerate nature
- Comparing yourself to others too much
- Assuming you can solve any problem if you try
Is there a disorder for caring too much?
According to psychologist Deborah Rozman, caring more than you’re able to handle can become ingrained as an emotional habit. She referred to this state as overcare, which forms an emotional loop defined by worry, anxiety, and stress.
Self-motivated and ambitious people can also suffer from caring too much because they want to attain their goals.
If you’re like this, your sheer desire to achieve good results can sabotage your performance.
An interesting study of oncologists concluded that physicians need to maintain some emotional distance for the sake of good decision-making.
Among the physicians surveyed:
- 60% reported trouble making objective decisions when they felt close to patients
- 66% said likable patients made it hard to be entirely honest about their medical condition
Oncologists treat cancer patients, which means that they will not always succeed, no matter how much they care. This scenario presents a stark example of something outside someone’s control.
Cancer is not always curable. Physicians struggling with their personal attachment to patients must learn how to not care so much to set professional boundaries.
How to Stop Caring: 13 Ways to Let Go and Enjoy Life
Learning not to care is achievable once you recognize how hard you’ve been on yourself. To put an end to the performance-crushing stress of caring more than is healthy, teach your mind new mental habits.
1. Evaluate Your Feelings
As someone who cares too much, your feelings distract you from the good things in life. When your feelings disrupt your happiness, ask yourself how reasonable it is to stay in that emotional space.
Is the thing that is upsetting you within your control at all? Does the intensity of the emotion match the situation? You may be assigning too much value to your first reactions.
2. Identify Exactly What You’re Caring About
Caring too much can afflict you with a nonspecific sense of responsibility. You feel that everything relies on you doing the right things.
You could relieve this feeling of overwhelm by defining what’s bothering you in the moment. This approach could diminish the issue that is bothering you once you see that it is a relatively minor thing.
3. Check for Negative External Feedback
You’re not alone if you care about what other people think of you. We all need to give some regard for how others perceive us.
However, you can control your worry about what people are thinking by checking their reactions.
Are people actively disappointed or disapproving of you, or do you just imagine that they are? If no one has complained or ridiculed you, then maybe you can discount their opinions.
Realistically, they may not be paying much attention to you.
4. Decide If You Can Influence the Outcome
Caring tells your mind to solve problems.
You have control over many aspects of your life, but your influence over social issues, natural disasters, or what your employer decides to do with your job ranges from insignificant to nonexistent.
Knowing that you cannot realistically alter the outcome of something in the hands of outside forces can ease your psychological burden.
You may still care about what happens, but you can shift your focus to preparing for the outcome instead of wishing and hoping that you can prevent it from occurring.
5. Give Yourself a Break
You’re a wonderful person who cares about yourself and others. Stimuli create an intense reaction in your nervous system, but perhaps that feeling will fade if given some time.
Giving yourself extra time to examine a situation could help you see that it will not change your life.
6. Seek Perspective
Just as giving yourself a break could diminish your strong urge to care, viewing things from a different mindset can lessen the significance of something.
When you feel like you’re caring too much, ask yourself if you think this issue is worth your mental energy. Will it be on your mind in a week, a month, or a year? More than likely, you’ll have moved on, and the issue will no longer be relevant.
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7. Nurture Your Self-Worth
When you care too strongly about the results of everything that you do, then you tie your self-worth to good results. Although everyone wants to succeed, in reality, people often fail.
Value yourself as a unique individual rather than measuring yourself against outside factors beyond your control.
8. Apply Your Energy to What You Can Control
Enjoying life doesn’t mean that you never care about anything. You can derive great satisfaction from directing your altruistic energy in productive directions.
You may not be able to clean up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, but you can pick up litter along the roads in your neighborhood.
9. Give Yourself Permission to Not Care
How do you stop caring about things that don’t matter? You can reduce your caring overload by incorporating the option not to care.
For the sake of your mental comfort, you must accept that you can’t care about everything. You have to pick and choose what gets your attention.
10. Understand That You Are Only One Person
Jonas Salk earned his fame by developing the first polio vaccine that spared the world from the terror of an infectious disease.
Although his achievement had a global impact, he probably wished he could have done more great things to ease human suffering.
The point is that you only have so much energy and time. You have much to gain by protecting your energy to focus on what you can control.
11. Know That It’s a Tough World
You’re not the first person to struggle in the face of a world filled with problems. Personal and social issues weigh heavily on most people.
Caring is a part of being human, but you have to impose some limits. Otherwise, you’ll lose yourself in negative emotions that separate you from the enjoyment of life.
12. Remind Yourself That You’ve Come This Far
No matter your age, you’ve lived through many problems and helped yourself and others through many emergencies.
Give yourself some credit for your successes and acknowledge that you’ve survived challenging situations. You can keep moving forward.
13. Decide How You Would Like to Feel
Caring has become your knee-jerk reaction. Doing it too often robs you of the chance to feel comfortable in the moment and view the future with confidence.
Instead of giving in to your habitual reaction, think about how you would like to feel. This moment of reflection gives you a chance to set a positive emotional goal.
This strategy can lift you out of bad feelings of fear, failure, or helplessness.
Manage Your Reactions in Life to Stop Caring So Much
Feelings come from your heart. They are genuine and serve as guides during decision-making, but they are a starting point.
You may have heard people say that happiness is a choice. This can feel like impossible advice to follow.
You cannot will yourself to be happy, but you can recognize a negative feeling and choose to step away from it.
Many people care about too many things, just like you, but they understand that they deserve to live life without constant worry.
You have every right to reserve your caring impulses for situations where you can do the most good.