"Not my problem," we've all heard this before.
It's USUALLY used in a context that makes our skin crawl because it's usually expressing apathy - and there's no feeling we hate more than apathy.
But - what if we told you that you could flip this apathy into focus and direction? Would you be interested?! -- We would!
Before we start talking about all of the emotions that come up DURING the process of changing your life and making a difference - let's clear up a few that get in the way of you or others starting that process to begin with.
First up - Apathy.
Sit back as we explain how you can flip the most cringe-worthy feeling into a sense of focus and direction while not making things worse for the rest of us.
We firmly and wholeheartedly believe that each and every one of us has a unique combination of skills, gifts, beliefs, causes that draw us in and passions that lead us down specific paths.
All of that is for a reason.
We also believe that each and every one of us has problems too. And we're not talking about the kind of problems that are probably coming to mind like family issues, money issues, job issues, relational issues, self-love issues, weight issues, health issues, anger issues, arrogance issues, etc.
We're talking about the problems that exist in the world that we're meant to help solve - problems like finding the cure for cancer, ending world hunger, providing clean drinking water for everyone, providing a better education system for all, eliminating waste, ending human trafficking, stopping animal cruelty, etc.
[So for the sake of clarity, when we say "we all have problems," in this article - we're talking about the world problems that we're meant to solve, not the personal issues in our lives.]
One person’s problem might be saving animals, rescuing strays, being a foster home for an animal in need - their problem is centered around animals. They’re here to help solve the problem of animal cruelty.
Another person’s problem might be reducing their waste, refusing plastic, educating others on how to make less trash and how to advocate for a better environment. They’re here to help solve the problem of waste and environmental preservation.
Each of these people has a problem to tend to, so in a sense, the other problem and problems in the world are... 'Not their problem.'
The person passionate about waste reduction was not put here to be a foster parent for animals and vice versa - those aren’t their problems.
And this is good.
Although we believe that the world is good and filled with amazing and wonderful people, places & things - we're also realistic and know that there are a lot of things in this world that need fixing and we can’t ALL worry about fixing every. single. one. of. them.
We just can’t. There's not enough time, money, energy, resources, etc. to enable every single person to help solve every single issue in this world. And that truth can produce apathy in a couple of ways.
Sometimes, people feel like they have to at least try to help solve everything and then they get overwhelmed, don’t know where to start and so they don't start as a result and apathy starts to creep in.
Other times people see all of the problems and think, "Why should I care? I'm only one person anyway so what difference can I make?"
This last form of apathy is apathy in its purest most toxic form.
There are over 7 Billion people in the world. Let's put some logic to this for a minute. If every single person in the world believes that they are just one person and can't make a difference, then literally nothing will get solved or fixed.
On the other hand, if every single person in the world believes that they can help solve at least one problem in the world - every single problem will get solved.
Apathy takes over our beliefs and our beliefs produce action or inaction. If you want to see change and action - you've got to kill apathy.
So, back to our two examples - while saving the animals might not be the environmentalist’s "problem" - because they are devoting their time and energy to the problem they were put here to help solve - they shouldn’t be ADDING to the animal cruelty problem either.
The danger of apathy happens when a person prescribes to the belief that if it’s "Not my problem," then they don’t have to worry about it at all. They don't have to change their behavior or mindset because - it's "Not their problem."
This kind of apathy is what makes every. single. problem. out there SO HARD to fix.
We’ve got no beef with the animal rights person wanting to save all of the animals and as a result isn’t spending all of their time ALSO working to save the planet.
Seriously, we don’t have any issue with that.
Where the issue starts to arise is when a person actively and knowingly does things to make the other problems out there that are ‘not their problems’ worse.
For example, we care A LOT about waste reduction around here - we're very passionate about this and it’s one of our ‘problems’ to help solve. We're not going to start volunteering at shelters or fostering dogs and cats any time soon because our time is going towards waste reduction.
And that’s cool. That’s fine.
Where it wouldn’t be fine is if we went around hurting dogs and cats, if we knowingly created a harmful environment for an animal, if we somehow took away the resources that provided safety for animals.
If we did that, we would ACTIVELY be making the 'problem' that the animal rights people are here to help solve WORSE.
Yes - animal rights is 'Not our problem."
Our problem is around waste and taking care of this planet, among other things like helping you simplify your home & budget - hint hint - waste reduction plays a BIG part in that, but just because animal rights or raising money for HIV & cancer cures or finding a solution for clean water for everyone are ‘not our problems’ - it doesn’t give us the freedom, leeway, right or whatever you want to call it, to make those problems WORSE for the people who do own those problems.
We’re not ever going to see MASSIVE change in this world until we ALL get this.
So, the next time you say or hear someone else say, "Why should I care? That's not my problem."
THIS is WHY.
If we all start making an effort to at least not make other problems worse, it makes it a lot easier for everyone else trying to solve those problems.
For example, we don't expect everyone to dedicate their time towards trash pick-ups or educating others on how to make less trash and how to live a zero-waste lifestyle - you've got your own problems to help solve.
But if every single person out there reading this STOPPED using single-use plastics like water bottles, coffee cups, lids & stirrers, plastic bags, plastic drinking straws and plastic utensils you'd be making our 'problem' of waste reduction that we're here to help solve A LOT easier just by not making it WORSE.
What problem are YOU here to solve? You have passions for a reason - things break your heart and make you mad for a reason - those are clues to you that you’re SUPPOSED to be helping those causes!
And just because they are passions of yours does not mean they need to be passions of other’s. If we all had the same passion for a certain cause - only one problem would get fixed - and that's not good.
We need to solve all of the problems or at least, as many as we can, and we’re NEVER going to do that if we don’t show respect for each other’s problems.
You can be an animal lover AND refuse plastic silverware - actually they go VERY hand in hand because that plastic silverware breaks up into smaller pieces, those pieces end up in our waterways and in our oceans where sea turtles, fish, other sea life and birds eat them, get sick and die.
Our problems are SO interconnected and if we spent less time trying to win people over to our side and more time actively working on our problems while also actively not making other problems worse - they’d all get solved.
You have to get over your apathy. You [and US] are a part of the problem whether you like it or not.
It IS your fault. It IS OUR fault!
And that’s ok. There’s no need to feel guilty or shameful about that - it's in the past, but you do have to recognize it and respect it if you want to see change in this world.
[And if we just made you SUPER uncomfortable or defensive with that last bit - stay tuned - Comfort & Defensiveness are coming soon!]
If you want your problem to get solved you have to empathize with other people’s problems, you have to respect other people’s problems and you have to actively not make other people’s problems worse.
If you don’t - what’s going to give anyone else any kind of incentive to help you and the problem you care about?
That’s why there’s SO much anger [another feeling we'll be covering] around social justice. We’re all shouting at each other saying our problem is more important than anything else.
The truth is, all of the problems are important. All of the problems need to be solved. All of the problems are interconnected and if we spent more time recognizing that, we could solve them all through our collaboration.
Stop trying to place a hierarchy on which problem is worse. They’re all important.
Focus on solving yours - focus on educating other’s on how to not make your problem worse and listen to others when they say the same things about the problems they’re trying to solve.
We can do this! We really can!
Check your apathy at the door and let’s get to work!