I’m sure most of us are pretty familiar with the classic stereotype of teenagers who, when called out by their parents for not being responsible in some way, would retort with an emotionally charged reaction of “Whatever, I don’t care!” Even though this may simply seem like an attempt to get out of taking responsibility and doing what is needed in that moment and may be frustrating as a parent to hear, I have found that when I hear other people use the term ‘whatever’ in their expression, there is a deeper reading to access.
When I have really allowed myself to feel the truth of this matter, it hurt to accept the fact that when we use ‘whatever’ in reaction to the stresses and harshness of human life, we are really just saying “I give up!” And to be honest, when I ‘went there’, I started to see all the ways that I have done just that in my current and past lives that have affected how I currently view and live in the world.
The manifestations of this ‘given-upness’ can come in various forms. There are those that look out at the horrors of the world and have completely given up on humanity as if there is no hope and others that give up on finding love or having true joy in their lives because they have been deeply hurt on either a physical or more commonly emotional level over and over again. But what I have found is that the ultimate form of giving up is when we give up on ourselves and begin to let the hurts that we experience change or diminish how we express in the world, morphing ourselves into a way of being in order to either protect us from feeling the pain of rejection or lack of self-worth that we have adopted as our own, even though deep down we know this to not be our true way.
This form of giving up has manifested itself in my own life in the form of taking on the role of always being the one to take care of, protect and save others, but at the expense of my own body’s physical and emotional well-being. In a sense, I would transform myself into the ‘knight in shining armour’ to try to bring truth and justice to anyone I felt needed to be backed up or ‘pulled out of the mud’, so to speak. But the problem was that I was doing this with a drive to be accepted and appreciated in a way that I had not felt the world had done for me when I simply showed it my true nature, which is to be the super sensitive, tender, caring and lovingly sweet little boy that I was, who felt connected to not only God but the whole Universe.
So, the way that I said “Whatever!” and gave up on that connection to my true essence was to get super involved in playing sports, as I had already noticed that I received attention for my athletic abilities in gym class at school. The outplay of this game of giving up on the world appreciating those sensitive qualities that I offered, would see me diving headfirst into not only many different competitive sports that were brutal to my body – both physically and in the way, they numbed any deeper hurts that were unresolved – but also alcohol and drug abuse, the ultimate ‘whatever’ approach that seemingly relieved the pain of not feeling met or accepted in the world for simply being ‘me’.
Of course, there were also the myriad of other techniques that I used to keep my body in a constant state of motion, such as hang gliding, skydiving, extremely gruelling hikes, kayaking, mountain biking, tons of coffee etc – anything to avoid feeling that stillness within me that would provide that beckoning call back to what I now know as my true essence, where there is no need for outer confirmation or acceptance. But when we give up on the possibility of feeling that deep love for ourselves, after identifying and healing those deeper hurts, the ‘whatevers’ of life begin to flow left and right. We begin to not take as much care or consideration for our work and our relationships, settling for a lower standard and therefore dropping our level of responsibility for offering the world the deep level of commitment and love that we all know deep down we can bring.
People tend to use the word ‘whatever’ when they simply don’t want to deal with an issue or be honest about how they played a part in something not working out as planned. It’s a way to absolve oneself of the responsibility necessary to learn from life and all it is showing us that assists our growth and evolution. How many times have you heard someone describe an emotionally charged situation or issue that was coming up for them in their life, only to cut off the full expression of what they were feeling without going deeper by tacking on a curt ‘whatever’ at the end of the sharing? This reaction sabotages any opportunity to truly learn from the experience.
To be clear, I’m not saying that every time this word is used it is done so in a negative fashion, but we all can feel when we use it in a way that says to the world, “I give up, what’s the point, the world is too messed up and nothing’s going to change!” – even if there is a positive aspect of not being attached to an outcome via the use of ‘whatever’.
In essence, simply observing and being honest about the times that we go into ‘whatever mode’, which can result in a lack of commitment to making the mental, emotional and behavioural changes in our life that deep down we know would support us, can initiate a journey of rediscovering a way of being that brings the full ‘you’ to all relationships and shows the world that there is no need to give up. In fact, every interaction is an opportunity to express ourselves fully without worrying about how this may be accepted or recognised by others. Holding back how we truly feel and slipping into a state of giving up on humanity is actually a movement towards giving up on ourselves, which only further ensures that the world continues to be one filled with disconnection and discontentment.
By Michael Goodhart, Aircraft Technician, B.A. Psychology, Lover of people, Nature and the philosophy of Universal Life, North Carolina, USA