Minding My Own Business
by Jack Young III
I never have and never will like the feeling of being left out. Nobody does. Whenever I was told to “mind my business” I almost always took it personally. Yet, by being told to stay out of other people’s business, I would avoid making their problems my own. That’s a good thing right?
Well, yes, and no.
While I may avoid being involved in a terrible situation or even just an argument, I may often feel that my involvement would be the key to resolving their issues or arguments. It hurts to see people struggle to endure their own hardships even after they reject your help or your opinion. It hurts even more to see people struggle through hard times after accepting your opinion or perspective. But perhaps it wouldn’t hurt at all if I just told myself “That’s not my problem.”
However, for a person like me, minding my own business can be tough even now. I always want to feel included and have my opinion heard, acknowledged, and even acted upon. I have a desire to use my own insight, perspective, and experiences to empathize and even guide people through their own situations. This has an unfortunate downside.
In order to help people through their problems, I have to make their problems my own. That’s not always a bad thing. Like with many things, it’s a risk. Sometimes, by helping another person, together we’ll both be better off than before. By that same token, one if not both of us can sometimes end up worse off. Sometimes I alone will be worse off. Accepting that risk and continuing to try is what makes anybody a good person, and a good friend. I want to be nothing less than that.
So of course when I was given the opportunity to voice my opinion and give advice to a friend, I didn’t hesitate to get involved. It didn’t end very well. I tried to help a friend out of a toxic relationship. She couldn’t keep herself away from someone who betrayed her. No matter what I said to her or did for her, it didn’t make a difference. She was insistent on giving second chances to someone who didn’t deserve it.
Then to top it off, her treatment towards me worsened. Between lies and her beginning to treat me as a stranger, our own relationship deteriorated. I could no longer try to help someone who refuses to help themselves. For my own sake, I had to push her away by ceasing all contact with her. That was far from easy to do.
Upon deep reflection, I gained a new perspective and looked back on old experiences. All the times I chose to keep to myself. All the times I was told to keep to myself. All the times I involved myself in the issues and struggles of others. All these experiences helped me understand why people told me to mind my business.
It’s not wrong to want to help people through their issues. Quite frankly, our world would radically change for the better if more people were willing to offer a hand to those who need it. However, it’s important to realize that other people don’t want my help or my opinion in regards to their own issues. It’s not personal; some problems can only be solved by ourselves.
Lastly, there are times where I am far better off not being involved in the situations of others. When people ask for my help, or when I simply see a person in need, of course I can help. That doesn’t mean that I always should help. It’s something to think about the next time I decide to involve myself in other people’s situations.
Can I help them through their problems, or should I just mind my own business and keep moving along?
(Read all the pieces in This I Believe; featured image from Quotefancy)