Learning to not give a fuck is one of the greatest skills in life you can learn. And it’s just that; a skill. There are many things in life that we do have to give a fuck about; the things that make us happy, the friends that matter, getting our five a day, the release date for the next season of Game of Thrones etc etc.
However, there’s also an overwhelming amount of shit that we spend hours, days, even months, obsessing over. This isn’t good for our time, our life, or our mental health. How many times do we watch the minute hand spin around our watch face waiting for the work that we hate to be over? How much time do we waste doing things that are meaningless to us? And how much of our time do we spend caring about what people think of us?
For example, I think this blog post may be the first time I’ve actually ever sworn on this blog in almost two years. I was too worried I might offend people with swear words. I swear a lot in real life because I feel it adds emphasis to what I’m saying and to be honest, I just really fucking enjoy it. It’s taken me until today to realise it’s a non-issue whether I swear here or not. People come to this blog to read about mental health issues & get support, not to expand their vocabulary. Why did I spend so long filtering my language & changing who I am for others?
How not giving a fuck will help your mental health
I’ll hold up my hands and admit that I was always someone who cared deeply about what people thought about me. In fact, I think it was probably the main source of my happiness. (That, and a chilled bottle of Sauvignon Blanc.) But, two things changed that.
Firstly, my mental health issues. They seem so long ago now, but the fact that they got so bad that I couldn’t remember my own name, couldn’t move from my bed and that I wanted to take my own life, well, it kind of made me realise that most things in life don’t actually matter that much in comparison.
Secondly, travelling. It’s a cliched joke that one departs to the drunken beaches of Thailand to find oneself, but I genuinely feel as though travelling did change things for me. When you meet people who are living on £4 a day (a day!) to support a family, or people that have been through the most terrible of circumstances, and yet they can still laugh with you about life, or when you just get to spend some real time by yourself…well, again, it kinda makes you realise that most things in life don’t actually matter.
These two things taught me to not give a fuck. We’re so wrapped up in social media, and having the latest fashion items, and what people we hardly know think about us, or if our work is good enough, that these things are always just gnawing away at us. It often leads to stress. And stress builds up. And then this leads to mental health issues.
I’m not saying you need to pack up your bags, wave goodbye to everyone and everything you’ve ever known and then live stress-free for the rest of eternity on a mountain with no worldly possessions. It’s just about learning what matters and what doesn’t matter to you personally.
I didn’t talk about my mental health issues publicly for over a year. Why? Because I was too worried about what people who I’ll hardly ever see might think of me. I was worried they’d call me the crazy one when they meet up for their weekly catch-ups which I wouldn’t even be present for. I was worried future clients might find out about my past. Then I realised, who gives a fuck?
It’s been one of the most liberating feelings of my life. And it’s been so good for my mental health. Sure, I still feel stressed with work occasionally and I’m not going to say I don’t care about what people think of me because of course I do. But only the people that matter to me.
If you’re suffering from depression or anxiety, or even if you’re not, learn to only give a fuck about the things that actually matter to you. It makes rejection easier to handle. It makes failing not as painful. And it makes living a happier and more fulfilled life easier.
There’s no-one on this Earth that can learn to completely switch themselves off. Everyone has their hangups, their insecurities, and their things that’ll get them down. And there’s always going to be people who try and put you down, or feed off negativity for attention, or people who criticise others constantly, be it through jealousy or some gaping hole in their own lives. But, fuck ’em.
Learn to put your energy in the right place, and with the right people, and with the right situations. If someone, or something, that once made you happy is now a source of pain for you, then learn to direct your precious fucks elsewhere.
This blog post, titled The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck, by Mark Manson, who wrote a book with the same name, explains it all much better than I ever could. (But it’s okay, I’m not going to let that get to me). He sums it all up perfectly:
“Because when we give too many fucks, when we choose to give a fuck about everything, then we feel as though we are perpetually entitled to feel comfortable and happy at all times, that’s when life fucks us.”
He also says that we only have a limited amount of fucks to give – who and what are you going to give yours to?
Getting on the road to recovery
I feel a duty to speak out about my mental health issues and not give a fuck about the response to help people that are suffering. Suicide is the biggest killer of men in the UK under the age of 45, and people giving a fuck, or people who shame these sufferers into silence, are contributing to this figure.
Are you suffering? You don’t need to be quite as drastic as me, but just have a conversation with someone. Talking is absolutely crucial in getting yourself on the road to recovery. If you are suffering and don’t know where to turn, I’m here to help – give me a shout.