Is it possible to care too much for the occasion? Is it possible to bring so much energy to a discussion or debate that the right solution gets lost in the drama of the 'convincing?' Do you bring the same level of energy to things that really matter to you as those you could really just let go? I am all about caring, but there is a point where caring too much can cause you to create unnecessary angst for yourself and others. Caring is a good thing, but it can be done in degrees to preserve your sanity, your marriage or your job.
The Circle of Care was created out of a discussion with a good friend of mine about how much should you care about a situation and how much energy (if any) should you exert to try to resolve or debate an issue. She had two positions, care passionately or care less. There was no in between. Also, the care less position was not a good place. By nature, she was an extremely caring person, so the position of not caring did not sit well. She still really cared, so care less was not real. It did not have the release you should feel if you honestly did not care.
We jokingly talked about creating levels of care so that we could objectively look at a situation and evaluate how much energy we would allow ourselves to exert on its behalf. The Circle of Care was born and while it does have some level of cynicism built in, it can be quite useful in a pinch when you find you are emotionally escalating and you look around and no one else shares your level of passion. When muscles are popping out the side of your neck as you try to convince the team that Monday should remain Chinese food day and everyone else wants Indian, you have to ask yourself if this is the hill you want to die on.
The Circle of Care is inclusive and gives you a wide playing field. It is a great screen to give you just a couple of seconds to determine if the issue is really and truly important or is it something you can and should just let go. There are times when you should go to the mat for an issue and there are times when it should not have even been on your radar. Time and sanity is precious, so what matters most is worth your energy.
Sometimes, supporting someone else's decision that is opposite from your position can be liberating. Sometime caring less, is liberating and needed. Sometimes going to the mat is the thing that must be done. I am not claiming that I have found the solution to always knowing when to care and when not to, but it has sure been fun applying it to some of the situation we encountered.
The Circle of Care is made up of five levels:
- Care Passionately - this is extremely important. You are willing to go to the mat for this issue and may be willing to die on the hill to defend your position.
- Care Enough to Influence - very important and you are willing to debate its merit and argue passionately, but civilly.
- Care Unless Career Ending - somewhat important, but you are not willing to make this the issue you are known for. Tread lightly.
- Care, but You Can Release - whatever. You can go either way. Enjoy the debate, but you can live with and support the outcome whatever it may be.
- Realm of Careless - why are you in the debate? Not an issue, move on happily and blissfully, grateful that you have not been sucked into the vortex of worry.
As you can see, there is nothing scientific about the Circle of Care. It is more of an art in the application. It can talk you down when you are about to escalate on an issue that is not that important or you have no control over. Think about it, breathe then decide what you want to or can do about it. Where is it in your circle of care? Try it, and stop caring so much. It will be liberating.