In today’s world minding your own business is a rare skill. Everything around us is designed to get you into some else’s business.
With Social Media deeply integrated into every part of our lives it is easier than ever to share unsolicited opinions regarding other people’s affairs. People are basically inviting you into their personal business.
This has created a culture of gossipers, lurkers and meddlers. People who feel obliged to tell you how to live your life as they feel they “know better”.
What is minding your own business?
Minding your own business is taking responsibility for your thoughts and actions, and allowing other people to take responsibility for their own. It is knowing when your opinion is needed and when it is not.
Minding your own business lets you focus on yourself, on what directly affects you, on what you can control.
This doesn’t mean ignoring the world around you. It simply means knowing not to step in people’s affairs uninvited.
What is not minding your own business?
Butting in other people’s business is so ingrained in our culture that most of the time we don’t even notice we are doing it.
You know the feeling. You can’t wait for the person to finish so you can finally jump in with your advice.
Most of the time we have a view of how something should be and expect everyone to comply with our view. We feel we know better than the other person. We feel obliged to show them the correct way of doing things.
Yet we get furious when other people interfere with our affairs, offering advice we didn’t ask for, showing they don’t trust in our abilities to handle our own business.
Two main benefits of minding your own business
1. Less stressing over other people’s business
Spending hours diving into other people’s drama means disturbing your own peace.
Interfering in other people’s business often leads to getting tangled in a web of gossip, combative behavior and judgement.
Minding your own business means you will not spend time and resources stressing over other people’s business.
2. More time and energy to deal with your own business
Your time and attention are finite resources. Spending them on other people’s business is depriving yourself from the energy you need to improve your own situation.
Minding your own business allows you to focus your time and energy in activities that benefit your own health, career, and relationships.
Think of the time you spend mindlessly scrolling your social media profiles. Imagine what you might achieve if you invest that time in something productive.
How to mind your own business?
We all understand the benefits of minding our own business. However nosiness is a habit that is hard to break. Hard but not impossible.
The first step towards minding your own business is to:
Recognize if an issue is your business or not
Your thoughts and actions = your business.
Other people’s thoughts and actions = NOT your business (unless they directly affect you)
When assessing if something is your business or not, ask yourself if it directly concerns you or not. If not, it is best to not get involved in the situation.
This rule has one very important exception. Witnessing a dangerous, hi-risk behaviour, illegal or potentially harmful to themselves or others requires you to take action. Based on the situation you can and must interfere to help someone who is in immediate danger, or at the least – call the authorities.
Respect other people’s boundaries and abilities
Recognize that people are in charge of their own lives and they have the right to make their own decisions. Even if they decide to share their affairs with you, you are not obliged, nor expected to fix it for them.
When someone wants to hear your opinion, they’ll ask. Don’t offer unsolicited advice and do not assume you know better.
Offer love and support, not judgement
When people are sharing something with you, listen to understand, not to respond. Practise offering sympathy, compassion and understanding and avoid judgement, advice and opinions.
Do not assume the role of fixer to other people’s problems. Most of the time people do not want advice and guidance, they only want to feel that someone is listening.
Know when to step away from a situation
There are times when people are simply trying to start a battle, to prove themselves right. When you find yourself in a situation where someone is actively trying to start an argument – get out of there.
This doesn’t mean you storm out of a room every time someone expresses an opinion you do not agree with. Constructive discussions are important and can help you learn a lot. But learning to avoid unnecessary conflicts is just as important.
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