Improve Your Boundaries By Minding Your Own Business
Want to improve your life, your relationships, and your boundaries? You can do that by making just one radical change – minding your own business. Life’s tough enough just carrying your own load. When you take on other people’s worries, battles, and emotions, it gets overwhelming really quick. It’s okay to draw a line. Not sure how?
There is an easy way to tell if something is your business. Just ask yourself does this directly affect me? If it does, participate in what’s happening and handle it. If it doesn’t, you can choose to sit it out. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Here are some examples.
You’re upset with your boss for changing your schedule at the last minute. This means you have to reschedule an appointment that you waited three weeks to get. Is it okay to vent to your friend?
Yes! This is something that happened to you. It impacts you, so it’s absolutely your business. That said, it’s not your friend’s business and she’s not obligated to listen. So, to avoid dumping on her, ask her if she wants to hear it and if she’s in an emotional space to hear it. You may also want to tell her in advance what you want from her. Do you want to be heard? Do you want to brainstorm solutions? If everyone knows the agreement going into the conversation, there is less likely to be misunderstandings or boundary violations.
You’re upset with your friend and are venting to a mutual friend. You’re upset because she’s not being supportive. Is this your business?
Yes. It’s okay to share this with your friend. It’s also okay for her to not want to hear it. It’s not her business, and she’s not compelled to take your side.
Your friend was mistreated by a business. You feel she’s too timid to complain, so you aggressively confront them until the business is either shamed or makes things right. Is this your business?
This might look like friends supporting each other. Isn’t that what friends do? However, this is not your business – especially if you did it without her asking you to. Sometimes we do need to stand up for others who are being bullied or unfairly treated. But if you do this a lot, you may want to ask yourself if it’s more about creating drama or behaving in codependent ways. When we let people work things out, they learn how to care for themselves.
You’re at a party with a friend. Your friend is new to the group. You want everyone to like her and get along so you tell stories about one of your adventures together. Is this okay?
No. While you were along for that adventure too, your friend is right there. It’s her story too. If she wants to share it, she will.
Your brother is carrying on a relationship with someone that is going to lead to trouble. You can see this coming a mile away. Do you say something?
If you care about your brother, it’s okay to speak your mind once. His life and his choices are none of your business. It’s not up to you to approve or disapprove. It’s normal and natural to want the best for people we love, but we can’t tell them what to do.
Your sister is carrying on a relationship that is going to lead to trouble. She’s asking you to help her cover her tracks. Is this okay?
Absolutely not! It’s not fair for anyone to ask you to do something immoral, illegal, or unethical. It’s not fair for her to ask you to carry her secrets either. True friends help us to be better people. They don’t bring us down. Being a friend does not obligate you to support behavior that you don’t agree with.
You’re trying to break off a romantic relationship. Despite your request for no contact, your partner keeps showing up at your job, calling, and texting saying that she isn’t ready. She wants one more chance. You can work it out. She’s sorry. You still care about her. You just don’t want to be with her anymore. This is/was your relationship. Are her feelings and needs your business?
It only takes one person to break off a relationship. If you have done that, then this is no longer your relationship and no longer your business. You don’t have an obligation to continue the discussion. While most of us want to be kind and don’t want to hurt others, you have needs too. You have asked for no contact. You do not have to leave yourself open to more conversations because your former partner isn’t ready to accept your choice. Sometimes you can’t leave on good terms or with both parties in a place of acceptance. That’s okay.
Your friend never has any money. She always has a reasonable story about a costly repair or not getting the hours she needs at work. She doesn’t ever directly ask you for money, but strongly hints that she wants it. Is this your business?
No. The quickest way to lose a friend is to loan them money. Each adult is financially responsible for himself. If someone is perpetually struggling, the likelihood of you ever getting paid back is low. This is probably not an issue that a loan would resolve. This is a lifestyle. It’s up to you if you wish to help out or not, but it is not your business. Worrying about it and trying to fix it are not your responsibility.
A friend asks you to hang out. You decline saying that you’re busy. She finds out that you stayed home alone and is angry with you. Is this your business?
Your friend’s anger is not your business. You don’t have to justify your choices to other people. She doesn’t have a right to ask you to. You can spend our time however you want, with whomever you want. If “busy” means you have a hot date with a book, that’s okay.
There are many other ways that boundary violations show up, but are you starting to get the idea? You have a right to control what goes on with your life, finances, emotions, and actions. You don’t have a right to push your stuff on to others. They don’t have a right to push their stuff on to you. And you don’t have to take on things that aren’t of your making and don’t directly impact your life. Minding your own business makes your life so much more manageable, huh? Try it.