What Should You Do When You Learn a Friend Doesn’t Actually Care About You?

Imagine my dismay when I discovered the friend I’d been so kindly hosting at my home recently didn’t actually give a shit about me. Over time, during his stay, I realized:

  • He almost never inquired about how I was feeling.
  • When I DID share my emotions or feelings in a conversation, he’d not care enough to acknowledge them or speak about them.
  • While he freely offered his personal stories with me, he seemed to have little to no interest inquiring about mine.
  • During one of the rare instances he asked how I was feeling, I answered with a single word (“stressed”). He looked at me… and that was it. The conversation ended right there. He didn’t care enough to know more.

What’s a girl like me to do when she realizes her friend doesn’t actually care about her?

A girl like me reminds herself that…

“He doesn’t care” is nothing more than a guess about what she’s seeing, so she starts using inquiry to test her guess, of course.

So inquire I did. And I’m SO glad I did, because, as is commonly the case with us humans, my guess was dead wrong.

Following a fascinating, heartfelt conversation one snowy afternoon, I discovered my friend actually had a fear of digging too deeply into others’ lives. As a child, when he had asked questions, spoke when not invited to speak, or offered unsolicited ideas, he experienced punishment. Oftentimes quite intense.

With time, he learned to avoid asking personal questions, learned to avoid probing, learned to avoid getting too close or personal to others and their stories — as this is what kept him safe, out of trouble, and away from anger.

So here I was, all this time, thinking my house guest didn’t care about me enough to ever wonder how I was doing or feeling… when all the while he was experiencing mental shutdown (going blank) when conversations would shift into my personal life and feelings. The programs running the show in his mind were insisting “It’s not safe to pry, to dig, to ask questions… STOP RIGHT HERE.”

During our conversation, I discovered he DID care.

Here I’d been, questioning the depth of a friendship, and wondering whether I wanted to keep someone in my life, all because I had almost allowed my initial conclusion that he didn’t care to go unexamined… when all the while “he doesn’t care” couldn’t have been further from the truth.

I could have lost a deeply important relationship had I not questioned the faulty story my mind had cooked up and served me.


You’d think that with all the work I do I’d not come to such glaringly inaccurate conclusions about my world and the people in it.

Nope. I still do. Allll the time.

The difference is, I constantly engage in the practices of inquiry, self-inquiry, and meaning-clearing to test my conclusions and dissolve the meanings I give to experiences that fail to serve me in a positive manner.

The initial conclusions we make about people and the events we experience can TRAP us in frustration, pain, and suffering.

Learning to gently QUESTION the stories we slap onto our experiences is a CRITICAL, NON-NEGOTIABLE SKILL required for those looking to lead happier, more fulfilling lives.

Without this skill, we become victims to the uninvited stories and explanations that pop into our heads each day, forcing us to live reactive lives, making us prisoners who reacts to stories we didn’t choose, keeping us locked inside lives devoid of choice.

Ooph.

That came off a bit dark. But it’s true. If you’re not pausing during your day to question the stories your mind feeds you, you’re not in the driver’s seat of your life. You’re a passenger,
sitting passively, along for a very bumpy ride indeed.


Can you pause today?

When you reach a conclusion that hurts, can you ask yourself, “Do I know this to be 100%, absolutely true?”

You’ll often find the answer to be No.

And the ray of sunshine I’m here to offer you today is that there’s space and freedom and possibility behind that No.

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