Remember this phrase from your grade school days? Those kids were amazingly clear about what was their own business—and they weren’t afraid to tell you to stay out of it. As adults, it seems that we are easily confused about what constitutes “my business” vs. “your business”.
Why does it matter whose business we’re in? My experience is that when I’m in someone else’s business I do things like: wish they were different, want them to act/react in a certain way, or perhaps gossip about them. One thing’s for sure, I’m not tending to my own business!
The reality is we cannot change others. Think of it this way, we don’t wish our dogs would act like cats, does it make any more sense to wish that Aunt Myrtle would stop talking incessantly? I’ve got news for ya, Aunt Myrtle loves the sound of her voice and has no plans to change. Are we then just damned to listening to Aunt Myrtle prattle on into perpetuity? There is a solution.
While we cannot change other people, we absolutely can control how we react to them. This is where the power is. Wishing Aunt Myrtle would change is a powerless position; it may or may not happen (and I can pretty much guarantee you won’t be the cause of it). But, when I’m thinking of ways I can react differently, I’m now firmly in control. When Auntie starts in about her bursitis and corns again, there is a whole bevy of things I can do at that point. I could: sit quietly and daydream about playing in a LPGA golf event; start a conversation with another person; decide it’s a great time to go to another room; play dysfunctional relative bingo and see how many key words she says; maybe even try listening compassionately from a place of realizing that Auntie just wants someone to listen to her. Why would I let Auntie irritate me? As you can see, it is completely up to me what I want to take from our exchange. I’m a much happier person knowing that how I deal with the situation is up to me.
Here’s a handy visual of the My Business/Your Business model. I like to think of them as bubbles: I can only control what goes out of my bubble and how I react to what comes in. You’ll also notice that you have no control over how the other person reacts to what you say. You could mean one thing and they interpret another—that’s their business.
So, when you find yourself feeling frustrated, mad or just wishing someone would be different, do what the kids do and mind your own beeswax.