The Dangers of Apathy
Whoa. Why the scary title? What’s the big deal? If you look up apathy online, it says the definition of apathy is: “the feeling of not having much emotion or interest; an apathetic state.”
Doesn’t really sound very scary, does it?
But, to go through life with “not having much emotion or interest” sounds pretty dangerous to me. We all go through painful things in life, and, people use these experiences as either a growing experience, or, they can get stuck reliving it over and over. I have met people with incredible strength who have moved past their challenges. And, I have met people who get stuck. What’s the difference?
When people are able to move forward, they usually spend some time thinking about what happened, and process it, either with someone, or by themselves. For these highly resilient people, they are able to take their experiences, and learn from them, and use the information to help them in the future.
Then, there are two kinds of “stuck” people. Those whom are aware that they are stuck on something, and, those who don’t. The aware camp is generally far better off than the other, because they are aware of the issues they need to work on, and, by the time they come to therapy, they are usually pretty motivated to process and move on.
Then, there are those who feel like whatever happened just doesn’t matter anymore. Usually, those are the people who respond to questions with an “I don’t care.” I usually find that response pretty interesting. After all, there are probably very few things in life that people really don’t care about.
People know what kind of food they like, or, at least what foods they really don’t like. And, in general, situations are either good, or not. And, people, well, people can generally tell if they like someone pretty soon after meeting them.
So, what’s with the “I don’t know” answer? I believe that “I don’t know” is pretty loaded. I will try and challenge my client, as I ask them what is under that “I don’t know,” or, what feelings were once under that statement. That “I don’t know” is a protection. If someone doesn’t know something, then, they can’t be challenged. And, if you aren’t challenged, well, then those feelings can stay tucked inside.
It takes courage to tackle the “I don’t knows” of life. The risk of exposing raw feelings can be painful. So, one may feel that it is easier to keep them tucked away, rather than dealt with. But, when someone finds the courage to explore those “I don’t knows” they can find incredible insight into themselves and how they live their life, that the non-committal “I don’t know” keeps you from accessing.
Yes, it is scary to look within. But, so is not.