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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, February 27, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 09
INSIGHTS & PERSPECTIVES: 'NOT GIVING A SHIT'
Section One
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INSIGHTS & PERSPECTIVES: 'NOT GIVING A SHIT'

by Michael Raitt - SGN Contributing Writer

'I excel at not giving a shit!' This is one of my favorite quotes (from the pilot of the series, 'Dead Like Me'). It reminds me that, by changing our perspective, we can change the effects that judgments have on us.

We are subjected to judgments all day long and we started being judged from almost the moment we were born. We are judged at work, by strangers we pass, our families and friends judge us, and we judge ourselves. A fundamental component of popular reality shows is how people are judged. We cannot get around judgment, yet we do have to be aware of how judgment impacts us.

A common pattern that I have noticed in most people is their fear of being judged by others. In the GLBTQ community, some men and women stay in the closet for years because they fear being judged by their families and communities. It is common for a number of adults to feel as though they are being judged when they go into a social situation so this fear keeps them at home. Most of us have experienced the 'fear of rejection' - nothing more than the fear of judgment in the specific context of showing your interest to another. For certain individuals, the experience of being judged by others can create anxiety and depression.

Anxiety and depression is fueled also when an individual judges him or herself. People who judge themselves are hyperaware of everything they say and do. They critique themselves ruthlessly and these harsh critiques start to form how people see themselves. For example, if you are worried about saying the wrong thing, you may say little. You become aware that you are saying little and begin to think you are a 'loser' because you are too nervous to speak. Seeing yourself as a loser is a component of depression and your anxiety is high because of your worry.

My experience says that one of the best ways to combat the impact of judgments is to become aware of how judgments impact you and then combat this impact by caring less about these judgments. If we put a high value on what others think of us, their judgments will have greater impact on us. Likewise, when we 'care-less,' we are impacted less.

We all know people who have the 'care-less' perspective. We see them go out with their own style and an air of confidence. We see them walk up to people and introduce themselves to others. My 'care-less' perspective is active when I go out to restaurants by myself. Many people I know say they would never go eat in a restaurant alone because they would be afraid of what others would think seeing them there eating at a table by themselves. I could care-less. I eat out at restaurants by myself all the time because I enjoy it (and I'd starve to death otherwise as I'm a terrible cook)! I am not judging myself nor am I allowing the real or perceived judgments of others to negatively impact me.

Having a 'care-less' attitude does not mean you don't care at all. It means literally what it says - to care less. It is appropriate to put some weight on what others think in certain circumstances. When you decide how and when you are impacted by judgments (of your own or by others), you will likely find that some of the anxiety and depression you are feeling will decrease.

'Not giving a shit' embodies the sentiment of caring less. Practice that perspective. See what happens in your life and how you feel when you are in charge of the value you put on the judgments you experience.

Michael Raitt, MA LMHC, is a therapist and a contributing writer to the SGN. If you would like to comment on this column, have a question you'd like him to write about, or would like to suggest another topic of interest, please contact him at Michael.Raitt@comcast.net.

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