To be indifferent means to be unbothered or lack concern. I like to think of indifference as not labelling something as neither good or bad; just what is.

Why do we label things?

We label things because it’s a way to compartmentalise and understand what we experience. Labels are useful as they give us a point of reference, at the same time labels can be detrimental because once we label something, it’s easy to get wrapped up and remain stuck. For example, a dog bites a small child, the child is fearful and labels dogs as dangerous. It wouldn’t be a suprise if that child grows into an adult who fears dogs and generalises their specific situation to every canine. This adult is likely to avoid dogs altogether and may even instill this fear into other members of their family e.g. their child. So to simplify the labelling process went like:

Experience: Dog bit me as a child

Emotion: Fear / anxiety

Label: Dogs are dangerous

Outcome: Avoidance of dogs.

When we label an event, we attach an emotion to it, when things are good we feel positive emotions and when things are bad we feel negative emotions. But what happens if we have an experience, accept it and then let go?

I’m not saying you should attempt to stop your feelings, they are valid, and it’s very healthy to experience all the emotions on the spectrum. It makes complete sense for someone who has been bitten by a dog to feel anxious and approach dogs with caution. However, each encounter is different and when you don’t label things it helps you to become more open minded, less judgemental and gives you the opportunity to let life flow as it happens and not let hanging on to the past, disrupt your present experience. New process:

Experience: Dog bit me as a child

Emotion: Fear / anxiety

Thoughts: I just got bitten, it was scary and that dog seemed dangerous

Reframing: It was a particular dog and not all dogs act that way

Outcome: Possibly apprenhensive around dogs but doesn’t avoid them

The indiviudal still felt fear and anxiety, but in the second process they recognised their experience was specific. And they re-framed their thinking in order to rationalise how they feel about dogs. People could learn how to re-frame their thoughts instead of immediately lumping things into good and bad categories. A dog bite was a simple example but if you struggled to relate, I encourage you to think about past relationships, an old job or a place you have visited. And ask yourself the following:

  • How do I feel when I think about x?
  • Why do I feel that way?
  • Do I immediately label it as a good or bad thing or do I label it at all?
  • Has this person / job / place etc influence how I perceive them now?

Why Indifference?

Moving to Madrid was the change I needed. It was a fresh start and I had a lot of free time to reflect and think about what I wanted life to look like. A goal of mine was to write with more intention, so I started the Alphabet Series and began to journal immediately after meditating. Every day since the start of this year I have written, “Peace is the priority.”

Peace is my priority because I believe all good things come from peace. I loved when Naval said, happiness comes from peace and peace comes from indifference and this exactly what I’ve attributed my happiness to.

For me, indifference is not taking things personally, I understand that something is my concern only if I want it to be, and if I feel that a situation is disrupting my peace, then I let go.

What can indifference look like?

  • Recognising if someone is rude to you, it’s more to do with them than you and being able to consider that before biting back
  • Being cut up whilst driving and having the ability to carry on without road rage or allowing it to disturb the rest of your journey
  • Breaking something and knowing that it’s fixable or replaceable so there’s no need to stress
  • Knowing it’s not the end of the world if you missed the bus / train, another one will come
  • Acknowledging that we are all a product of our own experiences which helps to explain why people behave the way they do
  • In terms of decision making, sometimes it means more to a person to choose, so let them choose
  • Understanding that people aren’t always ready to listen, even when they’ve asked for your advice and being cool with that

I think it’s good to clarify that indifference doesn’t equal push over. I always wanted to get my point across and have the last say, but as I’ve grown I have learned that it’s wise to pick your battles. As peace is my priority, I don’t want to create a hostile environment be it internally or externally. And because I’m aware of this I find it easy to accept situations and then let go especially with things I deem insignificant.

Indifference Peace Happiness

Learn to be indifferent, it’s a superpower.

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