Earlier this week I received a copy of the magazine that an article of mine appeared in. As I was flipping though it I noticed an article written by Eckhart Tolle, the best-selling author of The Power of Now. One of the main themes of Tolle’s work is that when you are in the present moment, ‘in the now,’ you cannot be harmed by the past and you aren’t anxious about the future. You are fully absorbed with what is happening around you at that very moment.
Fast forward to a few days later, I’m at the office and we are talking about how to combat the negative energy that has been flowing from a couple of individuals and affecting the rest of us. One person suggested the strategic placement of a smoky crystal to suck up the negative energy. Another suggested we burn white sage, in an ancient smudging ritual, to rid the place of evil spirits. It was at that moment that the big boss walked in and listened to our conversation. After a few minutes he came out with something pretty simple, yet pretty profound. He said, “I don’t care.”
We all kind of laughed because that’s such a ‘guy’ thing to say to something that’s way out there. But he meant it both literally and figuratively. Literally he meant – this stuff makes no sense to me, so I have no interest in what you’re talking about, but he also said, “Why would you let what other people do bother you? Who cares?”
Over the next couple of days I contemplated the power behind the concept of those words, I Don’t Care. If you don’t care about something, it has no power over you. It can’t touch you and it can’t move you.
Aren’t so many of us caught up in this Narcissistic web and while we’re trying to find our way out, we keep getting sucked back in, because a narcissist knows just what our hooks are. They know how to tug on our heart strings to draw us back into the fold. If we didn’t care, there is nothing they could say, or do that would have any effect on us.
To most, indifference is a destination that we are struggling to get to. We hope that in time we won’t care, but right now we are still battling with our feelings and struggling with our will power. But what if we took a page from Tolle’s philosophy and we didn’t just wish for indifference somewhere in the future, what if we could recognize that this present moment is all that we have and if we could practice what we want to feel in the now, rather than some time later, wouldn’t we feel more empowered and in control?
As Tolle suggests, to be present, means shifting your perception. You may, at times, find your mind wondering back to your painful past, or on things that you are still hoping will happen in the future, when that happens, you bring yourself back to where you are and what you are doing. So in kind, when we are practicing indifference, we shift our perception and when painful things start to creep up on us, we reel it back into indifference.
The power of Indifference is like a shield and when you’re in the middle of a battle with yourself, or someone else, create the image of you holding up a shield in your mind, deflecting hurtful words, or cruel actions, while saying in your mind, ‘I Don’t Care, I Don’t Care.’ This allows these things to just bounce off of you. The words, I Don’t Care are powerful. They mean that there is nothing that you can do to hurt me. I have taken back my power and I am fully in control.
When you care about someone who is unreliable, unhealthy and reckless with your emotions, you will never have peace and you will be in a constant battle with yourself trying to maintain some semblance of equilibrium. When you have decided that you are done and you’re making the transition out of your relationship, utilize the power of indifference, even if you’re not there yet. Shift your mindset and say the words, I Don’t Care, not only will you find yourself truly in a state of not caring a lot faster than you ordinarily would, but you’ll free up your mind to focus on your own life and truly not care about what your ex is up to.
The late Wayne Dyer often said, “What other people think of you is none of your business,” and he is absolutely right. Not everyone is going to like us – not everyone has to. Other people have baggage that has nothing to do with you and they often act out in ways that can be pretty mean and hurtful. As long as your actions always come from a place of integrity, then what other people say and how they act towards you should have no bearing on your wellbeing.
For recovering Codependents, that are used to trying to please everybody and make everything their fault, that can be a tall order. The alternative is to let your emotions get the better of you and stay in a place of weakness, ripe for further abuse. Remember no one can hurt you without your permission. Indifference is a boundary that we set to protect ourselves, when we need the most protection. It is another tool in our arsenal to mental health.
When you don’t care nothing can penetrate you. When you don’t care you go on about your day, not being affected by other people’s stuff. Being indifferent means being in control. It’s a higher state of enlightenment, where we let go of our attachments to people and things. “Attachment is the root of all suffering,” Buddha was quoted as saying. When you let go of your attachments and you practice mindful indifference, it brings you to a state of inner peace. which is what we should all be striving for.
Dysfunctional people will always try to get a rise out of you, just to prove they can, or because of jealousy or some other baggage they may carry. By reacting to it, you feed their need to be in control. So the next time someone wants to say or do something that hurts you, detach yourself from the event, say to yourself, “I don’t care,” and let it bounce off of you. As soon as someone knows they have no effect on you they’ll search for an easier target and leave you alone to live your life in peace.
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I am afraid I have to disagree with the whole indifference way of being. I am a 55 year old woman who has experienced bullying as a child, betrayal from most family members over the years, lies, BS and little people with big egos who if they don’t have them stroked turn rather toxic.
As a result I have been through every level of hurt, devastation, mistrust and downright unhappiness. The end result…… indifference. But it cannot be seen as a positive thing as I feel I am devoid of most emotions and therefore only half living. It’s like a defence cloak around me but to not feel is to not live.
I have two little doggies who I can lavish love on without fear of being hurt and they lavish their love on me also – thank goodness! It’s a tough argument really because yes, it is empowering to a point to be able to switch off and not get hurt, but I believe it’s an unhealthy way to exist and one can find themselves feeling very isolated.
So I would urge your readers not to try to take themselves 100% to this state of being because it really isnt all its cracked up to be and should be exercised with moderation and caution.
Thank you for your article and imhope you will appreciate my experiencial comments.
I think we are talking about apples and oranges. What I’m trying to convey is look at the source. Don’t absorb what they say and do. Pass it back and stop caring about what toxic people say.
Thank you for this. I am currently on a path to strengthening my mental health and not allowing others to affect me is a huge part of that. This was an excellent read.
WOW! I really needed to read this today. I would like to immensely thank you for writing this article.
Its very beautifully written. Only thing wasnt enough for me was to just keep thinking I don’t care…..I had to mouth it to make it happen !! Surprisingly only then i was heard, till them never was !!
Thank you so much for sharing this! It’s reaffirming to know that not caring is necessary to walk away and heal and doesn’t make you a heartless person.
I just recently left a two-year relationship with a narcissist. I spent the past year or so uselessly screaming into the wind, trying to get her to understand that I wasn’t who she thought I was and that her constant criticism and blame are unfounded. I slowly came to the realization that she didn’t care who I was. She needed me to be there to take all of the blame, the insults, the temper tantrums, and in return, I was supposed to spend all of my time and attention on her, especially making sure that I didn’t trip that wire that would make her explode. I finally got fed up recently, and realized that I just didn’t care. I stopped worrying about what her friends and family thought of me after she fed them stories about her reality of me, what she thought of me, and how she was going to perceive and react to my every move. I stopped worrying if she would explode if I did, or more often, didn’t do something. I packed up my belongings while she shouted how useless I was and that’s why I had to leave (even though it was completely my choice to remove myself). Even in the middle of her rage, I found myself not caring at all. What she said didn’t matter anymore. Her perception was only one person’s perception. Even if her friends and family bought in to it, that was ok! I knew the truth about myself and it had little to do with what she said or had said about me. I had disconnected emotionally, and that knot in my stomach that happened every time I could sense her rage coming on was gone. I walked away feeling nothing but relief.
It really helped to have a new sense of purpose outside of trying to make her happy, and meditation also helped to calm my anxiety and see everything a bit more clearly.
LOVE THIS ARTICLE. I HAVE BEEN ON THIS SITE ALL DAY . THANK YOU
Thanks so much for this one, Savannah! I reached conscious indifference yesterday and what was so interesting is my Narc. g/f actually called me out on it. But what I said in my head is, “well Darlin’ you can dish it out, but you can’t take it can ya?” So I feel stronger after reading this piece and all the comments. I am back to wanting to wait for her to be in a “discard” phase of the cycle. I love the other articles that explain I don’t need “closure, the last word, or permission to walk away.” That concept has brought me so much peace today. I unfollowed her on FB today. I think I might practice conscious indifference until she comes up with the bright idea to leave me. I am also using Non Violent Communication tools too. Just mirroring back to her what I am guessing she might be feeling and needing. Otherwise, I really don’t know what to say to her. Last night she wanted a little fight/reaction asking, “Are you upset with me?” and I have learned over time there is no real answer to this. If there IS something I am upset about it gets immediately defended against, turned completely around, and blamed on me. So now I just play dumb, say I’m tired, or I was upset about something else, which is usually true too and interestingly enough, she never displays any empathy for harsh things that go on in my life. One example is we went away for a few days to celebrate our year anniversary and my birthday which were two days apart in March 2016. Coming home, we had planned a stop over at my apartment for one night, then we were continuing on to her city, when I learned of a terrible tragedy had befallen my doctor in town and his family (wife and child). I expressed my shock and grief and the morning we were to leave, said to my Narc g/f, “I need to stay home, stabilize, process this pain and see my counselor in person.” She was miffed. No sympathy or empathy at ALL about the deaths of these three lovely, innocent people. Simply how this would affect HER!!! She says,”well, now I can leave. Take care.” That was it. She left. Then a text from her car saying, “Really…you change your mind so suddenly. I never know what to expect with you!!!” This after we had lovingly celebrated our anniversary and she had gone all out to help celebrate my birthday with a card, cake, flowers…that I did SPECIFICALLY ask for. So I was impressed by her efforts there. However, her lack of empathy is truly frightening. Thus I don’t know what she is capable of in us breaking up. I am safe in another city, but just to be sure, I am doing my best to let this be her idea. My question today is: if I am at peace, do I go on FB and initiate contact to be “sweet” and “keep the peace,” even if I am NOT inclined to contact her, just to keep up our routine and keep her calm OR do I just shine it on and since there has been no formal break up yet, just say: I know our routine but she knows my email, phone and FB, so if she wants contact she’ll initiate? If I avoid her like that she will continue to feel my indifference and it wont feel to her like HER idea to break up. Every time we have sort of broken up, she always INSISTS I did it. Even though only once did I say, “Unless you can come to couples counseling with me, I can’t continue.” But then I back-tracked. She did agree to counseling and then she back-tracked. There was no counseling after that point.
Thanks so much for all your blogs and help. The blogs and comments are educating me and keeping me safe!!
Couldn’t it be argued however that Narcs thrive on their indifference. This very same wall that guards them from their victims? so why train or suggest a codependent learns how to be something they detest so much? more guarded in this uncaring way?
Well Grr codependents get wrapped up in making other people happy. They will forgo their own needs for the sake of the needs of others, so it’s important that they learn to stop caring so much about what other’s think and contrary to your comment, Narcs care very much what other people think of them.
Please keep writing to us! These articles are such a source of comfort and provide some answers about these predators. After spending 12 years with an N and at 57 years old starting over and I mean over has been a tremendous struggle. It is hard to watch them move on to NW so seamlessly . They leave so many messes behind that they cannot clean up.
BRILLIANT post!! Thankyou!
I found out the indifference idea by mistake and started out by saying to myself everytime I thought about my ex and what she was doing, “It’s none of my business”.
It wasn’t easy but it worked. I still want to know what she’s up to but it IS getting easier. I just think about how I was permanently in internal agony when I was with her and how much better I feel (mostly) now I’m not! The post here though makes more sense. Saying, “I don’t care” is more powerful than the “none of my business” tack because it puts me in control.
Reading this is so uplifting…. I’m really looking forward to when I care so little she just won’t exist.
Thanks Savannah I’m getting better all the time because of your posts.
I have to log in daily. I am going on a month no contact. Although I am still very logical and really have nothing to say to him. He has not tried contacting me, which is normal for him. I still feel empty and depressed without the turmoil. I miss my high and extreme lows. I am sick. I hate that this is who I am. Why cant I stay angry? Why do I start wanting to be hurt over and over? When will this cycle end. 6 years and I cant feel okay without it. I am the problem.
Being I different will also help when people labelled you?
Just about to leave a six year marriage (almost ten years altogether) and still struggling to believe he’s a narc, or antisocial, but as I detach more and more it is more obvious.
I’ve been so disappointed over the years that I subconsciously became numb as a self-defense mechanism, I suppose, now I’m struggling to feel anything genuine, to know my own needs and desires.
I came to this site wondering how to break the pattern, since my previous long term relationship was also with a (much more blatantly abusive) narc/psychopath.
I guess rather than being able to identify a narc to avoid entering a relationship with them, what one needs to do is make themselves impervious to an N’s superficial charms by raising their self-esteem and confidence getting to know and love themselves.
The indifference is a good short-term method of self-preservation, but certainly not healthy to sustain indefinitely. I’m looking forward to rebuilding myself. Yoga seems like a good place to start!
My initial reaction was like Kimmie’s, isn’t indifference their MO? Isn’t that how they taught themselves how to survive troubled childhoods? So I thought about it some more and came to the conclusion that it’s ok to use indifference to shield oneself from only those who hurt us, not everyone like they do. Also from a state of enlightenment, we do it consciously not haphazardly. And finally as adults, we are able to make a distinction between a situation that necessitates such a response and one that is harmless.
I’m in a state of indifference at the moment, but I can’t tell if I’m faking it or if it has finally sunk in !
There are so many things I can relate to with this topic. Realizing it is one thing versus acting on it to take responsibility for myself. I can honestly say I have taken the mentality of “I don’t care” to create boundaries. Soft lines of boundaries. Because I have children involved with the person I deal with makes it very difficult to maintain. I never know what to expect including using my children as pawns with his behavior. No one, not even my own mother understands. My family sees the “I don’t care” attitude as selfish. Because of my disability, current custody is primarily with the father. It’s his mission to completely isolate me from everyone including my children for his control. We have been divorced for eleven years now. He has remarried. I liked his wife as she is the boys step mother. However, I have become aware that she is manipulating like he is to create more smoke and mirrors to discredit me with my actions. Thanks for listening. Any words of support would be greatly appreciated.
I struggle with this. I hated his INDIFFERENCE to al of my pain. It is excrutiating I feel like if I’m indifferent, .then I’m not being authentic to who I am and I’m being just like him. It’s hard. How do I do it without feeling like I’m just as big of a jerk as he is?
Kimmie this is really about not owning other people’s problems, passing them back to the person they belong to and going on with your day without internalizing any of their drama. You can still be authentic and not take responsibility for other people’s baggage.
I am trying to remember that I don’t care, and all the times he hurt and humiliated me without conscience. I shouldn’t feel bad!!
Notes for myself to remember: I don’t care. Indifference. He is no longer my business. what he does or wants with me or with anyone else is irrelevant.
The not caring advice is great, but indifference can become an all-pervasive burden.
Exactly! I’ve started to tell myself “I don’t care. It’s none of my business.” His life is none of my business. When he texts me that he’s seeing someone else (just to provoke a response) then I tell myself “I don’t care. It’s none of my business.”
I have been ‘no contact’ for 6 months. I think of him daily. I have now begun to face the feelings that I’m trying to avoid. I will look a picture of him and remember how he made me feel and really think about what he would say to hurt me. I am slowly desensitizing myself to those feelings by facing them and associating the awful feelings with him. I tried to avoid everything that reminded me of him, but that didn’t work. Facing the feelings and just getting comfortable with them is helping. I write and reread my journals from our relationship, especially the entries about how much he hurt me. At first the only thing I could remember were the good times. Now I am remembering more and more of the hurtful things and that is putting him in true perspective for me. Thanks for your blog and everyone’s contributions! It is really helping! Trauma bonds are real!
the simplicity of this article is just fabulous!
I dont care, bounce off you!!!!
someone who has discarded you? what they do is none of your concern anymore, fact…
learn from this!!!!
good energy we must supply for ourselves!!!!
what goes around comes around eventually…..
I think this has been one of *the’* most helpful articles. Although Savannah, you have assisted my healing more than words can clearly express. Sometimes I can relate so strongly to what you are expressing I feel like you are commentating on my own life!
i managed to reach indifference in my long battle last year and the more he tried to provoke me it was so ridiculous I would burst out laughing but it worked in the end,and i have also succeeded in stopping my cyber stalking for three months now
I just LOV3 this post, Savannah ! I really enjoyed your story about you and the others @ work devising New Age solutions to neutralize negative energies: Then.. Enter the Boss who gets straight to the point with I DONT CARE! (LOL) As you say, a simple yet powerful mantra to inspire us all and a state to aspire to. It has cheered me up; I had a melancholy few days but I feel OK now!! Thank you so much x x
Thanks Savannah. This week has been a struggle not with my Narc but with myself. Being a recovering co-dependent feels like a one step forward two steps back process. I have been so accustom to negative “your not good enough” attention that even without my Narc I still seek it out in all aspects of my life. It’s as if my mind says subliminally, he’s not here to abuse you or play head games – find something else or someone else to fill that spot. I recognize it. I just don’t know how to correct it.
It’s like I fear happiness, I don’t understand. Back at the couple hours at a time Again!!
What a fantastic analogy RNH. It’s kind of like when you move away from home at the beginning you really miss it and you just want to be home. You surround yourself with all the things that remind you of home because it’s what you’re used to and where you feel the most comfortable. You will seek out things that bring you that familiar feeling – hopefully we can address your concerns in next week’s blog on self-esteem.
The other night I was on LinkedIn and I stumbled upon my ex narc ‘friend’s’ page (before I blocked it) and despite feeling better these days, just seeing it made me cry for 5 mins. Just shows the importance of no contact. I still can’t be in any contact with anything that is his.
A friend of mine is very career ambitious and she recently had an interview with a high institution. She’s always wanted higher prestige, a bigger title b/c this is where she gets her self-esteem. She was messaging me on the ride home where she said something like, ‘This is a day in my life. Very lonely.’
I think she uses the career climb to fill an emptiness inside her. While ambitions are great to have, to feel like you NEED this external validation can be as bad as one who craves drugs or abuse. Even if she gets this job I know she’ll still be unhappy with herself.
I also read an interesting article about some transgenders who after their surgery, regretted it and wanted to go back to their original sex b/c they found a year later the change did not cure the depression and emptiness inside them.
It got me thinking how one has to fix the real problem and if one doesn’t know where that real problem stems, outside factors will never solve it, but might only make it worse once someone learns that there’s nothing external that can be done about it.
I’ve had this problem myself where too often in the past I’d become fixated on some guy’s approval, even if he was not as smart or accomplished as I was. It’s like I needed him to recognize this in me. Losing that validation is one of the most painful parts of rejection. We just have to train ourselves not to involve ourselves with it or or care.
Thank you Savannah I re – read your post, three times now, this ordinarily comes easy to me. On this occasion it’s a concentrated deliberate effort., that’s required, on my part. And I will read it again, when I need the reminder. You’re an amazing women ❤️❌⭕️
It has been 10 weeks no contact and I have come out of the addiction to him. I really was getting to the point where I didn’t like him when he discarded me. I have lost friends in cults and knew about Love Bombing and am shocked that this happened to me. How did I not see it? It feels good not to care about him anymore. I only feel bad about what happened to me. Savannah, your blog has saved me from going back to him. Thank you so much.
This tool of indifference is extremely powerful. I think most of us who have found ourselves in a relationship with a narcissist can successfully break free once we realize that our love, empathy and ability to give them the benefit of the doubt is something that they are not capable of reciprocating. Coming to the realization that we deserve so much better, then steeling ourselves to practice indifference as they scramble to keep us on the hook is not only empowering, but a great step in implementing the self care you wrote about last week.
Wow what a powerful piece you have written. It really hit home with me. Even though it’s been 17 years since I went NO CONTACT with my malignant narcissist older sister I still allow all the old hurtful memories of her evilness affect my life. After reading this article I now realize I am still letting her have control over my life and well being. As of today I am practicing the “I don’t care” philosophy and striving for peace of mind and soul in my daily life. Thank you so much for your wonderful articles.
I think I’ve finally got to the point where ‘I don’t care’ which I thought I would never reach.
I’ve been 8 weeks No Contact and it feels great that he is not my problem anymore.
I accept him for what he is and realise I derseve better than being in his harem waiting my turn.
He is my past and that’s where he belongs.
For me the ability to truly not care, as I mentioned, comes from not “needing” anything from the person anymore, and the ability to not need came when I finally loved myself. No longer do I need to search for love and caring elsewhere because my love tank is full because I love myself fully. I am truly free at last.
What if your reaction is motivated because you refuse to put up with the behaviour and your response is driven by that and not because you care. You simply want to respond because you don’t care anymore. I guess, I can then acknowledge who they are and that they want a reaction, even a negative one. But why should I have to change because of them. It’s not authentic to me. This is what I find challenging. Then I say well I gotta do what I don’t want to cause this will work. But I don’t like it Can I do it, yes, I do it nonetheless cause I really want the result. N gone out of my life, forevermore
Knowing your situation as I do the issue for you is that his persistent harassment is making you feel bad. It’s making you frustrated, annoyed and all kinds of bad things. If you can take yourself to a place of mindful indifference then whatever he does won’t matter.
How timely is this!! I used to look at his fb page all the time, only to be upset and wonder why he could do all these wonderful things with everyone but me. Then I made my word of the year INDIFFERENCE. Unfortunately I let him creep back in time and time again. Most recently I decided enough is enough. I remembered my power word, INDIFFERENCE and every day when I write in my journal, I write INDIFFERENCE. It truly is amazing how the pain goes away when you say….it doesn’t matter what he does or who he is with….he’s not a part of my life anymore.
Right. That is why some contact works with me, as we are neighbors, but I really don’t care anymore, and his power is gone. You have to be not dependent on him in any way, to not care and truly detached, not wanting or caring anything. It’s great. The power is gone. And now that you mention work, I think that is why the “drama” at work doesn’t bother me. I don’t care. I care about working together and I, in the now, thank and praise my co-workers for their good care and teamwork and help and ignore any talk that could be drama, and I have great evenings at work.
This is hard. you said,Savannah you took a couple of days to contemplate this. What is the switch from seeing it is good and being able to not care? Just controlling your thinking? Coincidentally I had to fight that my”antagonist” used that term on me after typical reeling me in by his saying he was going to rehab for alcohol after 30 years. Worked on me after almost 4 mos of no contact I had employed. He lives in my apartment building and parks next to me. I am able to see and hear when he comes out in the hall and can avoid him. He cannot tell if he will run in to me. But I just go right back in my apt when I hear him. But he caught me and gave me the immediate news in end of March and I encouraged him and gave him nice bottled waters and fruit but did not let him touch me other than a hug like a pal would give. After a while he saw that his attempts to get me to his apartment hasn’t worked and when I called him about something he said I DON’T CARE when asking him why he had not notified me about something. Then immediately said he he did not know why he said it and that he care “a LOT”..He went on to act aloof, and I think he was enjoying feeling like he rejected ME this time so I have gone no contact again. I have strong feelings for him or the closeness I had with him. I have no such with anyone else, and I think that also is what pulls me in. I would never be able to work out a marriage with him, and he tried to get me to leave mine and MARRY him. OH WHAT A EARLY HELL THAT WOULD BE . He was never faithful to his 2 marriages. My study of Narcissism and reading you has kept me safe and and been my constant reminder to not let my fantasies and thinking motivate me into tragedic temptations. OH man what a GODSEND. This is no way a critique of your writings today. I think some of us need more help with the step of getting there. By the way- I am holding to no contact-no matter what anniversaries of his monthly chips he gets and this last one was 6 months is he has indeed stayed sober. He was predator like with me in the beginning and I was turned away by that-and then out of boredom let myself get pulled in. My childhood Mother experience was much lke your Savannah. We survived that-that is amazing You gotta think of that B.B. King song where he says “NOBODY loves me but my Mother .AND SHE COULD BE JIVING TOO”.. mine was and not hiding it too well. THANKS. I always look for your article on Monday morning.