Indifference vs. Neglect
I was reading book that mentioned being indifferent to others…that treating others with indifference was a way to make them feel small and alone. When I was reading it, I remembered all the times that I had treated myself with indifference, and it made me cry.
I know why I do it, I learned from my alcoholic parents; care for others before I care for myself. Like most addicts, their disease made them selfish and if I didn’t take care of them and my siblings, who would?
I could see when I would neglect myself in physical, emotional and spiritual ways. But when I rAs I started to recover from that toxic upbringing, I learned that focusing on others and ignoring myself was an unhealthy way to live. I began to see when I would neglect myself in physical, emotional, and spiritual ways. Indifference has an emotional quality; unconcerned, uncaring, callous. Here are some synonyms for indifferent:
Indifference towards Myself – What It Looks Like
I need new sneakers. I walk a few miles every day and I’m having some foot trouble. I have the money to buy them. I hate shopping but, in this case, it would make sense for me to go to the local running store and get some expert advice. Yet, week after week, month after month, I put off getting them. If my friend or family member had pain in their feet like mine, I would be the first one to encourage them to get better shoes. To take care of themselves.
This is a simple example and one that over time, I recognize as my pattern. This is indifference to my physical needs. Emotional indifference is harder to detect. If I feel lonely, my brain will say, “there’s no one that cares about you.” This is false, I know I am loved and cared for. But in my head, the contempt that I felt towards myself lingers into indifference. “Who am I to ask other people for what I need?” I say to myself. And the worst part, the indifferent part of my brain, ignores the feeling, pushes it away, pretends it’s not there.
I know this only creates more problems for myself. But turning my back on myself/being indifferent to my own feelings and needs, is a familiar trap. If I can face the loneliness, sadness, frustration, joy… whatever it is, when I’m having it… it doesn’t attach itself to me like a little sack tied to my belt. When I accumulate too many little sacks, I am weighted down, depressed/despairing.
I wish there were an easy way to fix my self-indifference, but I haven’t found it. The best way for me to return to a place of self-caring and self-compassion, is to either write about it or talk it over with someone else. My upbringing taught me to ignore myself, now I fight to see myself, to find souls with whom I can mutually share the burden. After all, if I believe in the fundamental worth of every human, I must include myself.
Image credit: Meetville
emApril 26, 2022
This post resonated with me. As a “caretaker” during my childhood, I was not taught to look after my own needs, boundaries, and feelings. I appreciate the visual of collecting a little sack every time a need, boundary, or feeling is ignored. It is exactly that accumulation of little sacks that will lead me down the path of what I call “sneaky” stress, depression, or anxiety. I’m always looking for ways to identify signs of that “sneaky” path, and I’m adding that visual of collecting little sacks to my toolbox.
DeborahApril 26, 2022
Hello and thank you for you reaching out. It means a great deal to me. That’s a new metaphor that came to me when I was writing the post but I agree, it’s helpful to me too. Depression, stress and anxiety are all sneaky to me (I’m adopting this from you!) Untying and dropping sacks of other people’s expectations and needs is a more useful path than trying to drag myself around with all that accumulated burden.