Understanding Apathy

What is Apathy?

There’s no easy way to describe what apathy is. It can be a feeling of nothingness, a total lack of motivation, or an inability to connect with and truly feel your emotions. To me apathy feels hollow; it’s this constant wanting for more, but knowing that feeling with never be fulfilled. Instead, most things feel like a shortcoming and some sort of variant on boredom.


Types of Apathy

Typically when people talk of apathy they’re referring to emotional apathy. This is the type of a apathy that makes people feel emotionally ‘numb’ and disconnected. But, for some people apathy is more of an attitude towards life than an emotional state.

Apathy in a general sense refers to feeling indifferent to life as a whole. It’s when everything blends into one colour of dullness. Nothing feels exciting, important, or particularly worth the effort. While apathy can seem the same as depression, its technically a different thing.

Apathy can be a symptom of depression, but it isn’t the whole thing. For myself at least, depression gives me a feeling of hopelessness and a supreme lack of energy.  Whereas when I’m apathetic I have plenty of energy but lack the drive to use it. The way I experience apathy is as more of an attitude towards life and my future, rather than a specific emotional response, or response to people I’m interacting with.


Why’s it so bad?

It’s not uncommon for people to misunderstand apathy, or take someone’s apathy personally. It’s easy to brush someone’s lack of motivation off as being lazy or to simply ignore the problem. But taking the time to understand why people act the way they do can make a huge difference.

  • It can make social interaction and maintaining friendships difficult.
  • Productivity becomes almost impossible due to an extreme indifference.
  • Normal daily tasks become a chore and seem pointless.
  • It can lead to depression and self-loathing


What Causes It?

This question is difficult to answer. Clinically, there haven’t been many studies on apathy alone; oftentimes apathy is studied as a symptom of larger issues such as Alzheimer’s disease. This means that we can make some educated guesses as to what might be the route of apathy, but we don’t currently know for certain.

Some people (such as Teal Swan*) believe that apathy is caused due to a suppression of emotions in childhood. *I’m not endorsing this theory. Her theory is as follows:

Children growing up in abusive situations often don’t have the opportunity to express themselves. They’re  shamed for both their positive and negative responses, which results in them suppress their wants. They then follow the path that others set for them in life because they can no longer connect to what they want. This leads to apathy as they don’t want what they have, but don’t want anything else either.

Personally, I think this might be a bit of a stretch as a cause for all apathy, which is how Teal states her idea. Nonetheless, I do think the early suppression of emotions can have an impact to later apathy.


What Can Be Done?

If you’re someone who’s apathetic just finding the energy to do things can be horrifically difficult. I’ve found the best way to deal with apathy is to just force myself to do things.

In the past I’ve definitely warned against forcing yourself to do things, but if I’m being realistic it’s sometimes needed. I know that if I’m feeling truly apathetic I won’t do anything unless I force myself to. I guess the plus side of it is that because I’m so indifferent it’s not as if being productive can ruin my mood!

Focusing on small tasks and making daily changes can also help. Instead of becoming overwhelmed by the bigger picture of things just focus on what’s in front of you. Making small changes to your daily routine each day, before you know it you might be slightly less apathetic!


Bit of a bleak end to this post, whoops! I haven’t been posting here all that much recently, but I’m still on Instagram a ton. If you’re a fan of my shorter posts then I’d definitely recommend checking out what I have on there, it’s pretty much all mini blog posts!

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