Last time I discussed how “shoulding” on yourself is not useful. What about “shoulding” on others?
Hoooooo boy this one is TOUGH. Because so often we let others get to us, in trivial matters and bigger ones. We decide in our brains that other people should or shouldn’t be a certain way or do certain things. Oh, the stress we put on ourselves by NOT minding our own business!
Ahem, example time:
Back in my past life when I was a teacher, I had to
endure participate in multiple department meetings. The amount of “shoulding” I did during those meetings would fill many, many barrels. Embarrassing, but I believe in authenticity, so here are some snippets of the stream of consciousness running through my head during these hellish necessary professional gatherings:
“I shouldn’t f*ing be here. I worked all day and now have to sit through this??? Ugh, she brought brownies??? How rude- doesn’t she know I’m not eating carbs? Oh, great, ______ is talking. Thinks he’s God’s gift to Education. *snort/eye-roll* Good Lord, how long has she had broccoli in her teeth? And who made this ridiculous agenda? It makes no sense – we should have discussed this topic 45 minutes ago! Nonononopleasegodno don’t let ______ have the floor, we will never get out of here…”
Get the idea? Want to flick me between the eyes now? Yeah, I know. Not very classy.
See, all those thoughts were coming from a complete and total VICTIM mindset – the fictional thought that I had no control over my situation. That I was somehow a martyr for showing up to the meetings and putting up with everyone there. Well, I was wrong. For now, we’ll put aside the fact that I was probably equally irritating to other people (another blog someday) and focus today on the fact that I ACTUALLY HAD CONTROL OVER HOW THOSE MEETINGS MADE ME FEEL. I chose to focus on brownies, broccoli, and the clock on the wall. I chose to focus on “annoying” qualities in my co-workers. I chose to think about all the other places I’d rather be. Did it make the time go by faster? Did it change anybody’s personality? Did it eliminate me having to go to meetings? Derrrrrr, nope.
Eventually, I figured out some much more powerful choices.
- Choosing to be grateful for all the different talents around me.
- Choosing to remember that despite our differences, we all had the common goal of delivering quality education to students.
- Choosing to bring my own snacks and sit with my back to the damn brownie pan.
- And, ultimately, choosing to leave that job and be my own boss. (Staff meetings now consist of me hanging out on my couch with a glass of wine writing a blog.)
SO, how to make the switch from waaa-waaa baby to In Charge Marge? Here is a simple question I ask when I find myself allowing someone else to get inside my head:
***** “Is this MY business or ______’s business?” *****
Is it MY business whether _____ approves of me or not?
No. It is my business whether I approve of myself.
Is it MY business whether my friend should break up with her boyfriend?
No. My own relationships are my business.
Is it MY business how my coworker behaves?
No. It is my business how I behave.
Is it MY business how grumpy the cashier at Walmart is?
No. It is my business whether I shop there or not.
Is it MY business how others talk, dress, think, parent, eat, make love, worship, socialize, exercise, travel, or work?????
No, no, no, a thousand times NO.
You try it. Think of somebody that rubs you the wrong way or causes you stress/worry/pain. Insert his/her name and offensive action into this sentence:
__Name___ should (or shouldn’t) _________.
Now, ask yourself, “Is this really MY business? What can I actually control?” Be honest with yourself and don’t let the “Well, yeah, BUT…”s get in your way. Gently reminding yourself that you don’t need to decide what’s right for others brings you peace.
I am not successful with this all the time. It is a practice. When I all of a sudden realize that I am out of my own business (usually the sign is that I’m annoyed or irritable), I have a little mantra:
I repeat it as many times as needed. Sometimes hundreds. 😉
People are going to do what they do. We can waste valuable time and energy becoming indignant over what they say, what they wear, how they act, etc. ORRRRR…. we can just let them be. Let them be crazy, happy, sad, silly, angry, hyper… whatever they are. We can decide how to interact with them, whether we believe what they say, and whether or not we want them in our circle. Pretty great, right? You are in control of your world, my friends.