Mind Your Own Business

If you are living your life and I am mentally living your life, who is here living mine? 

We’re both over there.

Being mentally in your business keeps me from being present in my own. I am separate from myself, wondering why my life doesn’t work.

To think that I know what’s best for anyone else is to be out of my business. Even in the name of love, it is pure arrogance, and the result is tension, anxiety and fear. Do I know what’s right for myself? That is my only business. Let me work with that before I try to solve your problems for you.

Byron Katie – ‘Loving What Is

All of us are wonderfully imperfect.

No-one knows everything, everyone makes mistakes, has blemishes, things they’re not good at. We all struggle with certain things and do and say things that drive others crazy. Yet each of us is living our life the best we can – sometimes struggling, sometimes flowing.

I find so much beauty and humanity in this. It’s also quite a relief to accept this about myself.

That’s not to say that I’m not always learning, striving to improve, taking responsibility. It’s just that choosing to accept my humanity is a far more enjoyable and liberating way to live than not accepting it and beating myself up.

When I apply this to the people around me then I can accept and love everyone for the imperfect creatures they are, or I can complain and try to change them (or hope they’ll change without me doing anything). I can mind my own business or I can put myself into the business of others.

We’re not alone

Minding my own business, though, is not living as an island.

I can do that, of course. I could cut myself off from the rest of the world but I imagine that’s a lonely life and potentially without much meaning. Certainly losing all interaction would remove a lot of fun, warmth and sharing, among other things I could mention.

Minding my own business while interacting with others can be a real challenge. Drawing the boundaries and deciding when to get involved and when to keep out can be fun, and can be a minefield.

Count me into your business if you want a friend, a shoulder to cry on, or someone to celebrate with. I’ll get involved if you want some guidance or ideas about what to do or a non-judgemental ear to listen to you. Or maybe just to share some time together, telling stories, laughing or simply enjoying the silence.

Count me out of your business if you want to play the victim. If you want someone to listen and agree to your complaints, judgements or moralising. If you want someone to take responsibility for your life and solve your problems for you.

Knight (or knight-ess) in shining armour

Many of us like to be saviours, riding into the fray on our white steed, wielding our sword of righteousness and words of wisdom to hand. I like to solve problems for others, right wrongs and generally save the world from the forces trying to destroy it!

I’ve learned that it’s usually a good idea to first look at my own business before getting on that shining horse. I’ve found many times that underneath my gleaming armour sits a hypocrite! Chances are I can find some way my actions (or inactions) are creating, or at least contributing to the situation.

Before I embark on a crusade against XXXXX (insert your own favourite cause) I might want to look at my role in it.

Before I jump on the climate change campaign, I might just want to check how I’m contributing (directly and indirectly) to pollution.

Before I tackle racism in the local school, I might want to have a look at dealing with how my own racism manifests.

And before I jump into giving you advice about to make your life better, I might want to … well, there’s a lot of work there, before I can start on you!

There are times, though, when I do need to speak up or take action – when people, through intent or ignorance, hurt us or others. In these situations, sitting back and doing nothing not an option and if I wait until I’m perfect before I intervene then I may never do anything.

Minding my own business does sometimes mean getting involved in your business. It’s about listening to my reaction – the pain, the fear, the outrage. It’s about protecting myself and others. If I have enough power then I might use force to intervene – or, if not, then I might attempt to get those with greater power to intervene.

But if I’m judging, blaming, criticising or punishing then I’m in your business and, as Byron Katie says, who then is looking after me?

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

Matthew 7:3

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