Hello? Is there anybody in there? Just nod if you can hear me. Is there anyone at home?
When I first started working with this point I thought the word I was working with was apathy. But as I kept going deeper down the rabbit hole I realized that apathy is more like a state of wanting to do something/for things to change and then having given up on that – whereas the point I’ve been working with is in fact a form of total indifference, a sort of self-induced state of being comfortably numb, hence the title of this blog and the pleading line from the song by Pink Floyd that describes what I’ve felt towards others – while not realizing that the image I see in the mirror that is another, is myself.
So, I have noticed that I find people around me to be rather apathetic or: indifferent. This for example comes up when I share myself and what matters to me, where I see them respond with a sort of sedated look in their eyes, as though they’re not really hearing what I’m trying to say, and then out of politeness and common courtesy, they say: “well, that’s nice…”
So maybe they’re not indifferent? Maybe there’s something in the way I present myself that causes them to become indifferent? Or maybe I’m only seeing my own indifference reflected in their eyes?
Something that I do see is a stark difference between when I share myself in vulnerability where I am raw and dare to expose myself and then when I already anticipate resistance or conflict even before speaking and thereby try to be diplomatic with my words so as to trigger the least amount of resistance in another.
Recently for example, I went up to my colleague and I shared with him how I see him, because it was something I’d been wanting to do for a while, to share with him and recognize what I see in him that I find to be unique and powerful. It’s not something I would normally do and I was also a bit shy about it. Finally I decided to just do it and I shared myself completely openly. It was not necessarily particularly eloquent and I didn’t exactly say it in the way I had wanted to, but I said it and if I’ve understood my colleagues’ response correctly, he got the message – it went in. It didn’t just go in one ear and out the other as I normally experience happens when I share myself.
Now that I look at it, the question comes up of: well do I listen? Or do I also just take people’s words in through one ear and out through the other? And yes, I must admit I do. I see how I have made a habit out of having these ‘standardized’ and automatized conversations with people where we pretend to listen intently and give each other the responses we think we want, but where we aren’t actually at all even present in the conversation. We’re more focused on keeping up appearances, on not pissing anyone off or stepping on their toes, on keeping a good tone and a nice environment – and then we’re off to the next person or the next appointment, making sure that we get to talk to everyone and everyone gets to see us talking to everyone, and everyone is happy and no one is angry and “it’s all good.” – But is it really?
When is the last time you’ve had a deep, vulnerable and honest conversation with another person? Or even more importantly: with yourself?
Another thing to consider here, is that a lot of us have even mastered making such seemingly ‘deep’ conversations automated and standardized where we think that we’re sharing our innermost selves, but where we’re still just following a script of a particular simulation of a conversation that we then define ourselves and each other according to.
So I realize that people are indifferent towards me because I am indifferent towards them and because when I share myself I do so within the same surfaced polite conversation that could have just as well been about the weather, conversations without a purpose where the words spoken goes in through one ear and out through the other.
There is however also a different dimension to consider here which is as I mentioned before that I can’t definitively say that people ARE indifferent in their conversations with me. As such, it is pertinent to also bring this point of indifference back to myself in having a look at where in my life I am indifferent.
The way that I see indifference in this context it is actually a point of having muffled and silenced the authentic and honest parts of oneself where one is living in a sort of haze, only participating ‘on the surface’ – in a dimension of simulation where nothing is real but constructed social conformity based on multiple cultural and social rules of conduct. So we say: “How are you?” “I am fine thanks, how about you?” “I’m also fine.” “Nice weather today” “yes it is.”
So when I then come and share myself and share something that matters, when I try to get under this surface layer – I’ve done so using information, thinking and believing that what makes the difference is the words spoken and the way I structure my sentences, being very careful to not scare people away or entice a conflict with them or otherwise create an uncomfortable situation.
When I interact on the very same superficial surface layer, even though I think the information I share is deep, people are going to respond in the exact same way: “oh that sounds good. I hope it makes you happy.” “Yes it is really a shame with that racism in the world, but what can we do? We’re only human after all.” “Pass the coffee please.”
The same thing happened with one of my students where I saw an opportunity to open up a relevant existential point in a moment. But I went into knowledge and information about it, meaning I was coming from a starting-point of wanting to teach her a lesson and a desire to have this be one of those deep conversations. Because of that, she reacted by seeing me as yet another stupid adult who’s trying to tell her what life is and she sort of went “yeah yeah, what else is new?”
I realized that I couldn’t have deep existential and transformative conversations with others if I am not genuine and vulnerable in my expression. It’s not something that can be forced or faked. Either it is or it isn’t.
So what I have learned from this is that it is actually not so important for me to carefully structure and censor my words to avoid triggering reactions in another and thereby think that they’ll be more receptive to what I’m sharing. I’ve tried it and it doesn’t work. What does work is to be real and open and vulnerable and to share what matters to me, what is real.
To do that I have to take risks. There’s the risk that they’ll find it too personal, too intimate, that they’ll be scared. There’s a risk that they’ll react and go into opposition or that they’ll think I’m crazy. There’s a risk that I’ll push them away and the relationship won’t be able to stand.
Obviously there’s certain legitimacy in being diplomatic to not push people away. So I am certainly not advocating to just be totally raw and then people will just have to deal with it. Obviously one has to take them and where they are at into consideration. So what I’m talking about here is when there ARE moments where one can open up and share and take the conversation to a deeper level and where I’ve not done this because I was scared of pushing people away.
I’ve often talked to people about politics and about sustainable solutions and find them to have ‘wool over their eyes’ so to speak, in the sense that they’re not even able to get passionate or open up to alternative possibilities. I’ve had a hard time understanding why that is, but obviously we’re living in a world and a system where we are probed to be this way, so that all our focus and attention goes to things that makes absolutely no difference in the world; petty personal problems, entertainment, indulgence, money problems, fears towards the future, fear towards other people. We are so entrenched in the mud of our ‘daily rut’, we are so buried in the depths of the system, that coming up to the surface for air seems like an almost impossible feat, like we see the light somewhere way above us, but we’re too far away to even consider the possibility of pushing ourselves up and break the surface until our head is above water.
The question I need to be asking myself is: where do I do this? Because if I know how to prevent it in myself, if I know how to solve it in myself – I also have a clue as to how to assist others to do the same and by transcending my own apathy and indifference it will no longer be the only thing I see in another.
I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to not see, realize or admit to myself that the only reason why I react to the perceived indifference in others, is because of my own indifference that I’ve separated myself from, have suppressed and abdicated responsibility for as/within myself
I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to manipulate myself into convincing myself that “I’m not indifferent” and that “I care” and so within pulling the wool of self-deception down on my own eyes, I’ve not seen my own indifference but have instead blamed others for being indifferent so that I could separated myself from them and thereby not have to face (or change) my own indifference
I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to not realize that being indifferent is a point of ‘playing it safe’ where – if we don’t care about anything, then we won’t get hurt, we won’t expose our vulnerability and we don’t have to face and take responsibility for the totality of this world that we’ve created or ourselves as creators in it, because we convince ourselves that its has nothing to do with us
I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to use indifference as a deliberate self-suppression, denial and deception mechanism through which I can hide from myself and can hide what’s really going on in the world and in myself from myself – so as to abdicate responsibility for myself and for the world
I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to be indifferent towards others where I don’t actually care about them or is interested in listening to what they have to say, but only stick to my own tiny little bubble of a ‘world’ with what matters to me and what I see is important and where I’m thus not open towards investigating new perspectives
I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to manipulate and induce myself into a state of indifference as a ‘shield’ I use to keep ‘my world’ intact, where I don’t have to question it or confront it or challenge the way I see things or myself – and where I can remain ‘comfortably numb’ to not have to feel or face the reality of myself or this world
I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to not realize that I’ve made my experience of being ‘comfortable’ in my life and in myself contingent upon being ‘numb’ towards facing/feeling/realizing the reality of myself/the world – as if I was not numb I would not be comfortable with who I am/with what the world is because I would see what I’ve accepted and allowed and I would feel the consequence of what I’ve accepted and allowed and would thus have to step out of my ‘comfort zone’ and step up to taking responsibility for myself and this world
I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to base my experience of stability on a clear demarcation and strict limitation of what ‘my world’ is and what matters to me, where I focus my attention of certain specific points and ignore everything else so that I can maintain an experience of being in control of my life, of being a good person, of being sane, of being going somewhere – so as to keep the truth and reality of myself away – and so when someone brings something up that in any way is ‘misaligned’ or crosses the boundaries of what I’ve decided to be my world I immediately engage in indifference and disinterest as a way to keep my world intact and without intrusion
I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to justify my self-induced numbness through an experience of being comfortable – when/because I am numb and so believe that to be comfortable, I have to remain numb
I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to anticipate/expect and fear that other people will go into resistance and conflict and arguments with me, that they will reject me, push me away and think that I’m insane if I were to share myself with them openly and in vulnerability
I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to become tense when I’m talking to/about to talk to people about the reality of our world and ourselves because I expect and anticipate that they will react and go into resistance and will either start arguing with me or will reject me and judge me – and so deliberately censor myself and my words and try to deliver what I want to share in a diplomatic way with the aim of making the information more palatable, only to create the consequence of people responding in indifference and apathy – because I am engaging in a system aligned to social rules of conduct through fear – instead of actually challenging such systems through allowing myself to be vulnerable and open in my interaction with others – so because I’m not being real, because I’m being filtered, so are they.
I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to be and become indifferent when others speak and share themselves, because I am preoccupied in my mind focusing on ‘myself’, on presenting a ‘correct’ image of myself, on getting social credit, where listening to others becomes a point of pretense
I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to be and become indifferent when I fear that making a decision means sticking my neck out, where I have to a take a risk and face potential consequences of my decision – not realizing that being indifferent and not deciding, making others decide for me – is equally making a decision that has its own consequences – and as such, I can never escape or fully abdicate responsibility for myself, no matter how indifferent I become
I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to not realize that indifference is a state of being comfortably numb, where I’ve deliberately placed myself into a state of not caring, of not feeling, of not seeing and so have defined/perceived that to be comfortability
I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to create and perpetuate a state of indifference in myself as a ‘whatever’, ‘neither here not there’ through which I could make myself numb so I didn’t have to feel or face myself or the world
I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to deliberately assume a position of indifference as a self-defense mechanism because I’ve feared what would happen if I were to ‘take a stance’ and so by being indifferent I’ve perceived myself as not risking to stick my neck out – thus indicating that indifference actually originates from a fear of standing up, a fear of standing out, a fear of taking a stance and risking social exclusion and persecution
I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to justify my indifference based on memories of having stuck my neck out and gotten ‘punished’ for it, through which I’ve justified that its better to hide and to not care or to pretend not to care
I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to be indifferent to what’s going on around me and within me because I am ‘lost’ inside my mind, in fantasies and fears
I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to create and perpetuate indifference as a state of deliberately not caring or ‘playing it cool’ – based on the fear and belief that if I do care, if I do open myself up in vulnerability I risk being hurt/ostracized
I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to be indifferent and to not care about life, about myself, about the suffering that exists in this world and I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to not realize that indifference is a state of deliberate self-suppression of refusing to face that what is here is my creation, is myself, is my suffering, is my abuse onto life
I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to not admit to or realize the cruelty embedded within indifference, of deliberately making myself not care
I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to become indifferent so that I can do what I want without having to stand accountable for the consequences, not realizing that what ‘I want’ is a preprogrammed design that I have made no directive decision to embed within me and so following ‘what I want’ means being a slave to a preprogrammed design that I have no direction over
I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to be indifferent towards the state of the world because I feel overwhelmed by it and I feel that if I had to face it – I would have to face myself as who I really am and I fear that I would break into a thousand pieces or lose my mind or that my heart would break of sorrow – not realizing that I already know what I’m accepting and allowing, I’m simply existing in a state of denial about it and that the more I accept and allow myself to deny, the more I perpetuate the abuse and suffering – and that facing myself is inevitable and so I’m only postponing the inevitable while creating more consequences
When and as I see myself becoming indifferent towards others where I ‘zone out’ of listening to them and caring about what they have to say – I stop and I breathe.
I realize that I’ve been indifferent towards others, because I’ve been so focused on keeping up my own appearances in an illusion of worth and value that was never real, but that was perpetuated by a system of indifference
I commit myself to learn how to really listen to others, to open myself up towards them, to be vulnerable and real instead of simulating and faking interest just to keep up appearances
I commit myself to dare to take a stance, to stand by and with the principle of what is best, the principle of birthing life from the physical through taking responsibility for and stopping the preprogrammed simulation
I commit myself to stop being indifferent and I commit myself to remind myself that indifference is an act of deliberate self-suppression from a starting-point of abdication of responsibility – and I do not accept or allow myself to live based on this premise as I will be living my life on a lie
I commit myself to stand by the principle of self-honesty and I commit myself to stop filtering myself in conversations with others out of fear of not being accepted – where if I do filter myself it is directive and deliberate based on seeing what is most supportive in the moment and not coming from a starting-point of submitting myself to fear
I commit myself to speak openly and in vulnerability with others and to listen to them openly and with vulnerability – without creating any expectations, fears, hopes or desires about how they will respond to me – so that I can focus on sharing myself unconditionally independently of how another responds, so that me sharing isn’t conditioned to having to have a certain positive response or fearing/avoiding a certain negative response, but that I share what is within me in self-honesty and so commit myself to support others to do the same through my example.
I realize that indifference is a ‘shield’ – its a deliberate mechanism and although it seems (and feels) impenetrable it is not. We ARE not indifferent, we pretend to be indifferent, we manipulate ourselves into a state of indifference so that we don’t have to take responsibility for ourselves or for the world we’ve created. As such, we need to reignite the indifferent – and to do that we have to start with ourselves, find out where we are indiffirent and what it is we’re trying to hide through our indifference. We have to dare to be open and vulnerable and self-honest and to through that, develop the care and compassion that this world so desperately needs on a real and substantial level.
More blog-posts on indifference:
2012 Desensitizing: A Culture of Indifference
Caving in to Perceived Indifference instead of Standing up: DAY 181
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