Mind your own business! And the simple truth it bestows.
March 18, 2021
Ever been told to mind your own business? To butt out! Stop being a nosy parker? Depending on what age you are and what company you keep the phrases used are wide and varied in strength. But the sentiment is the same. You’re in someone’s business and you’re not welcome there!
It’s equally annoying if it’s your business being interfered with! People overstepping the bounds of propriety and sticking their oar in unasked. Even if they are well-intentioned, it can be frustrating. More so if it is a recurring situation.
So why am I bringing this up, you may ask? Well, like any behaviours in our lives, it’s something we all deal with at some point. For those unfortunate few, it can be an issue that is persistent. Or, you may be the one who has a habit of not minding your own. Either way, it is important to address this issue and discover the truths that minding your own business can bestow.
Here are some thoughts on the benefits and importance of the ability to mind your own business.
Character, not reputation, is key.
This is fundamental, I think, to the practice of minding your own business. If we focused more on our own self, on our strengths and weaknesses, on our own lives, and the challenges we face, we would be less inclined to force our opinion on others.
Furthermore, by focusing on our own character, on being better versions of ourselves, we will worry less about what other people think of us. By minding our own business and keeping on our own path, we will find clarity and peace of mind. Constantly looking out and comparing ourselves to others, bombarding our senses with unimportant nonsense, only detracts our focus away from what is important.
Reputation is allowing other people to have a hold on your life and your actions being determined by them. Character is knowing who you are, working out your values and you living your best life. By working on yourself first, you’ll find you have no time for the noise trying to bombard you, or the tendency to criticize others.
Limit your media intake
Today, it is so easy to become distracted by the lives of other people. So many families and individuals post their lives on the internet for one reason or another and we lap it up. I’ll be the first to admit that there are certain families I follow online. But I have found that the ones I follow hold similar values to mine. I am inspired by how they live their lives and the choices they have made. The danger comes when you start comparing your life to theirs. By minding their business more than mine, it can be a recipe for disaster. Comparison breeds dissatisfaction and envy.
Limiting your media time, focusing on your own life, and building your own character is far more important for our peace of mind.
Look to yourself. Deal with you first. Captain your own vessel and you’ll sail the storms of life with more control. See clearly your own life, sort out your own messes, strengthen your weaknesses, before you go barging into another’s.
It’s a two-way street; by focussing on what is not our business, we invite outside opinion but we also open up the opportunity to cast judgment on others.
Sticking your nose into other people’s business and not minding your own foster truly destructive behaviours. Comparison, judgement, gossip, and the need to be right, not only destroy your own sense of self-worth but create for you a character of distrust. People will think less of you if you are constantly giving unsolicited opinions, gossiping about so-and-so, arguing about unimportant topics until you’ve lost all respect from your peers. How exhausting! How unkind!
Hopefully, none of us know anyone who possesses all of these characteristics! What a person! But we may know people who display one or two of them. We may even be honest with ourselves and say we are guilty of one or more at times. I know I have been guilty of gossip, of giving my opinion when it wasn’t asked for. And I’m sure I’ve been on the receiving end too.
These behaviours are unhelpful, unkind, and should be curbed within ourselves. Don’t give your opinion unless it’s been asked for. Don’t gossip about other people. Their lives are none of your business. Don’t judge another’s actions. You have no idea what is going on in their lives and therefore have no authority to make any comments.
It’s easy enough to say, I know. In practice, we can often find ourselves halfway through a conversation before we realise we are overstepping. But it’s important that we do realise, and then take measures to stop ourselves. By doing so we can develop a habit of careful and kind talk.
Ego must go!
When we give our opinion, put in our tuppence worth, pass comment on a situation, we are feeding our own ego. Rarely does what we have to say have the other person as the focus. We feel the need to illustrate how we have gone through a similar situation, or how we would act in their shoes. We turn the focus away from them and make it about us.
Ego has no place in helping others.
If someone does ask for your opinion or help in a situation, we must become active listeners. Any advice given, opinion proffered, sentiment shared, must be in the best interest of the person doing the sharing. It’s not about us. When someone opens up a window into their inner being, we are standing on the outside. We can walk away without any direct consequences, so we must be very careful with what we say and do. Often it’s just about listening and being a support.
The benefits to minding your own business
Further to anything I’ve already said, there are many ways in which learning to mind your own business, and actively practicing it, can have lasting and positive influences on your life and those around you. The two-way street can go from being a place of negative thoughts and actions to positive ones.
Awareness and control are yours
When you begin to focus on your own life more and less on what other people are doing in theirs, you find a better sense of self. When you begin to tune out the opinions of others, when you stop worrying about what so-and-so is doing in their life, you take better control of your own. Why? Because you are making decisions that directly impact you. Decisions that propel your own life forward and serve your needs as opposed to ones that you think look better from an outside perspective or are because someone else has done it.
Your life is yours. No-one else’s. By quietly minding your own affairs you become more attuned to your own needs and are better equipped to make good decisions because you know yourself better.
Above all, if you love yourself better you can love others better.
Impact your front-line
When we begin to mind our own business, we notice our own character, and any flaws within it, better. Acknowledging said flaws and trying to overcome them can be challenging, but if we are to be our best selves, it is important that we do. In doing so, however, it will become apparent to those around you that you are a person of integrity, one who is capable and has a strength of character that can be trusted. This in turn fosters stronger friendships, better business connections or deals, and allows you to have a better impact on your front-line. That is the people you interact with most often.
The impact we can have on our immediate environment is more than we probably know, if only we would learn to mind our own business, create a character we can be proud of, and see how that affects our surroundings.
By looking after ourselves, working hard, acting with integrity, sorting out our own affairs first, and not sticking our nose in, we will be better equipped to help others when it is required. People will seek your advice if they see you handling your own affairs well.
Time saver…life saver
How often have you become so engrossed in someone else’s business, that you completely lose track of time and space?! Hands up! I’ve done that! We have so many time wasters in our life today, social media being one of course, and I’ve often caught myself in the act of wasting time. Precious time! It’s a finite resource and we only have so much of it.
I don’t necessarily think that people like thinking about their own mortality. It’s not a cheery subject I suppose, but if we don’t think about the fact that we only have a finite number of minutes in our lives, they become worthless. Some of us are blessed with more time than others, but that isn’t what is important. It’s not the quantity of time, it’s the quality of time.
Glandalf said it best:
Let’s be remembered as people who made the most of what they had; loved abundantly, gave generously, and lived with integrity.
To learn is to grow
I briefly touched on this above, the idea that when we give out unsolicited advice or any advice for that matter, we are not directly impacted by it. We do not suffer the consequences of that advice. It is therefore incredibly important to be cautious in any advice or opinions we offer up.
It really hurts me today to see the impact that other people’s unwarranted opinions, comments, or advice can have on someone. Often, someone, they’ve never met. I see this so much in the media where celebrities are bombarded with evil diatribe from strangers on events that have absolutely nothing to do with them.
In the UK we had a very sad case last year with a young T.V presenter called Caroline Flack. Now I didn’t know her, but the abuse she suffered at the hands of the media and social media was heart-breaking. So much so that she took her own life. NO-ONE should be put through that. It’s bad enough when people you know interfere, but for absolute strangers to do so is appalling.
I know that celebrities have to develop a thick skin if they are to survive, but my question is, why should they have to? If people behaved better and showed more kindness, we wouldn’t hear of terrible stories like Caroline’s.
When we learn from our own life, from decisions we make that impact us, we see the consequences because they happen to us. Real-life application is the best learning tool. We do, we learn, we grow. Through good and bad outcomes. By doing so, we learn the value of advice and how to be cautious with it.
A final thought.
I don’t want you to think that to mind your own business makes you a selfish and self-centered person, because that is not the case. When we learn to live, minding our own affairs, it doesn’t mean that we don’t look out for one another or gently steer someone off a dangerous path. It does however mean that we do so in love, with care, unselfishly helping those around us. Remember it’s not about us in those situations. We are there to listen, to understand, to validate, and to help if asked. Not impose ourselves upon them.
The simple truth, treat others as you would wish to be treated, is really at the heart of it all.
It takes hard work to develop a habit of minding your own business, it forces us to look inwardly and question our motives and authority, to make sacrifices, to deal with our own demons. But in doing so we strengthen our own character, making us better able to serve others and live our best lives.
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