Minding other people’s business is a surefire way to make yourself unhappy. That’s why if you want to enjoy the coming holiday season and live a happy life, I highly recommend you take a close look at this mechanism and ask yourself whose business you are in?
But what exactly do I mean by “minding someone else’s business”?
Well when you mind your own business, you take care of yourself. You are in your own space, focusing on what is going on inside you and on what’s good for you. And you try to make the best possible decisions and take the best possible actions based on everything you know, feel, and love.
When you are minding someone else’s business, you are in their space either telling the person in your mind or out loud to their face what you think they should feel, think and/or do. When you do this, you’re minding their business. And minding another person’s business is quite simply invading their space, unless they have specifically asked for your help or opinion.
Whose Business Am I In Right Now?
So try watching yourself during the day and ask yourself “Whose business am I in right now? Am I minding my own business or someone else’s? Who am I making judgments and decisions for right now? For me or for someone else? And who am I worrying about right now? Who am I thinking about, making plans for, or afraid for?”
You might want to ask yourself this question right now. Who’s in your mind at the moment? Who are you worried about right now? Is it your mate, your parents, your friends, your kids? And what kind of worry is it? Is it concrete and practical because you’re standing right next to this person and he or she is in a life and death situation right this minute and only you can save them? (Probably not because how can you be reading this at the same time?) Or are you extending yourself into their space and making judgments and suggestions—in your own mind—that are not yours to make?
It’s interesting to think about. And it’s interesting to observe as you go through your day and interact with your family, friends and business colleagues. This is a new concept for many people because it’s something we don’t learn in school.
Wake Up and Be Aware of What You're Doing
So few people are truly aware of what they’re doing. But if you want to live a happy life, the time to wake up and become aware of this mechanism is right now.
Get The Latest From InnerSelf
The key to releasing yourself and others is to stay at home in your own business. Watch what you’re doing and when you find you are moving out of your own space, make the conscious decision to pull back your projections and ideas about what you think other people should or shouldn’t be doing. And stay home with yourself!
When you start to understand this mechanism and begin to notice what you’re doing, you’re probably going to find that a lot of the time you’re everywhere except at home with yourself. If this is the case, don’t despair. Becoming aware of this mechanism is in itself a powerful impulse for transformation. And it works automatically because as you start to see what you are doing, your natural inclination will be to pull back your projections, ideas and suggestions about what you think is good for other people.
Your natural inclination will be to let them decide for themselves. Because as you wake up, it becomes obvious that you can’t know what’s good for them anyway. In my experience, thinking that you can or do, causes nothing but pain and personal anguish.
So all we’re left with is the question – whose business are you in? Theirs or yours?
Being A Good Person
When I tried to analyze why I spent so much time and energy minding other people’s business, I discovered that it had to do with the mistaken idea that being a ‘good person’ means worrying about other people and trying to take care of them. I thought that if I was ‘loving and kind’ it meant I must do everything I possibly could to make other people happy.
When I thought like this, I was always trying to ‘second guess’ what is going on in my partner’s mind or in my kids’ minds or in my friends’ minds. Which I am sure made me a real drag to be with! And this mindset caused me a lot of anxiety too because no matter how hard I tried, it was impossible to get it right!
Are You Like This Too? Feeling you have to know what everyone else is thinking, doing, and feeling? Feeling that if you want to be a good person you should be on top of every situation and figure out exactly what everyone else wants! But how can you? I mean in truth it’s hard enough to just figure out what you want and what you’re feeling about yourself, let alone other people! I mean how can we know?
All I can say is I found trying to know what other people want all the time was and is a real nightmare and totally impossible. And what does it get you? In my experience it gets you nothing and nowhere—all it does is piss other people off. Big time.
When you think about it, minding someone else’s business is really the same as saying they don’t have a mind of their own, that they don’t have enough intelligence to take care of themselves and actually that’s really insulting. I don’t want other people to treat me like that, so what gives me the right to treat other people that way? Especially if it’s someone I love like my children or partner.
Now that I understand the mechanism, I see how truly ridiculous these beliefs and behavior are. Especially if we want to live happy, harmonious lives! But the reality is, a lot of us are minding other people’s businesses a lot of the time—instead of minding our own. Of course I’m not saying we should come down on ourselves like a ton of bricks because we’ve been behaving in ways that cause ourselves and other people discomfort. I’m just saying if you watch yourself and contemplate this mechanism you will become aware of what you’re doing. And then your thinking and behavior will automatically adjust themselves.
Awareness is the key because being in other people’s business is just unconscious, automatic behavior you fall into because you haven’t investigated your thinking. And this is especially true if you’re a “people pleaser”!
So during your day, do some spot checks. Stop up and ask yourself, “Who’s business am I minding now? Am I staying in my own space or am I invading someone else’s space?” And if you think you know what’s best for someone else, ask yourself again, “Can I really know what’s good for her?”
Once you begin to see what’s going on, you will see how other people fall into this trap too. Parents, for example, are really great at this—to everyone’s dismay. And of course it’s not difficult to understand how parents can get stuck in this kind of behavior. It’s a parents’ job to take care of their children when they are small, but as a child grows up, the wise parent will give the child more and more space and be less and less in the child’s business. This is wisdom’s way. We all know this in our hearts.
Authority figures in general, and grandparents and school teachers, are also experts at being in other people’s business. But again, it’s not difficult to understand why this behavior might develop considering their roles in society. But if you want to live a happy life, it’s wise to remember:
- Set everyone free in your mind
- Respect everyone’s right to decide for themselves
- Let people do what they like (and experience the consequences)
- Don’t be attached to what other people say or decide to do
- Don’t be possessive of people or things
- Stop trying to make other people like or dislike what you like or dislike
- Bring yourself home to yourself
- Stay in your own space
In short, mind your own business!”
©Barbara Berger. All Rights Reserved.
Book by this Author
The Awakening Human Being: A Guide to the Power of Mind
by Barbara Berger with Tim Ray.
About the Author
Barbara Berger has written over 15 self-empowerment books, including the international bestseller "The Road to Power / Fast Food for the Soul" (published in 30 languages), "Are You Happy Now? 10 Ways to Live a Happy Life" (more than 20 languages) and “The Awakening Human Being – A Guide to the Power of Mind”. American-born, Barbara now lives and works in Copenhagen, Denmark. In addition to her books, she offers private coaching sessions to individuals who wish to work intensely with her (in her office in Copenhagen or on Skype and telephone for people who live far away from Copenhagen). For more about Barbara Berger, see her Web site: www.beamteam.com