I’m just old enough to remember a time when an attempt to manage the life of another was likely to be met with a resounding…mind your own business! People didn’t take kindly to others freely, or intrusively, offering their opinion about what they should or should not be doing with their lives. The general feeling was, you take care of your life, and I’ll take care of mine.
My how times have changed.
Today, people seem to have an exaggerated sense of entitlement that supports both private and public declarations about how people should run their lives. This blurring or lack of differentiation has become a rampant, and to some extent socially acceptable, way of bringing people into alignment with the latest groupthink du jour. A type of majority rule with little to no tolerance for those who embrace a different way of being or thinking.
Not too many years ago, such behavior would have been labeled a form of co-dependency.
People who became emotionally deregulated by the behaviors, actions, choices, or thinking of another person (something outside of themselves) were considered emotionally immature. Such individuals were encouraged to increase their ability to separate themselves from others and focus on developing an internal sense of stability that remained intact regardless of the circumstances or situations occurring outside of their control.
People, Places, Things, Situations, and Events
The ability to separate self from others and thinking from feelings remains a vital aspect of developing the ability to remain calm and non-reactive when faced with external conditions that do not line up with one’s internal beliefs and perceptions. The basic skill set of identifying the difference between my stuff and your stuff largely determines the level of inner peace or dissidence that results during times of disagreement or conflicting values. The attempt to manage or control uncontrollable aspects of one’s life (people, places, things, situations, and events) typically results in a perceived conflict and the emotional/internal distress of the person who cannot clearly define where they begin and end and where other people begin and end.
The challenge of defining a Self
Defining a self begins with self-awareness, develops through the process of self-definition, and results in an increase in self-regulation. In short, it is very hard to set and maintain healthy boundaries with other people if I don’t first understand my own limits, beliefs, and responsibilities. Once I have identified what my side of the street looks like and accepted that it isn’t my job to manage anyone else’s side of their street, I can expect to experience a much more peaceful and less emotionally distressing life.
Simply stated, the ability to live a peaceful, restful, and stable life resides within me…not others.
It’s my job to manage me, and it’s your job to manage you. And if you attempt to manage, control, inflict or otherwise insert yourself into my life without an invitation, I will, in a very kind manner, ask you to please…mind your own business. Which is an old-fashion way of setting and maintaining a healthy boundary with an inappropriate or intrusive person. Think of it as a kind of a verbal no trespassing sign.
Ideally, however, minding one’s own business is a self-management issue, not a boundary issue.
Self-managed and well-differentiated people tend to look inward first. When faced with conflict or a difference of opinion, they evaluate their own values, virtues, beliefs, and behaviors to make sure they are maintaining their own personal boundaries. Only after determining that they are managing their own self well do they establish a boundary. The apostle Paul, in his instructions to the church at Corinth, admonished
… aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your own hands…
I Thessalonians 4:11
Healthy Me: Healthy You
Learning to set healthy boundaries with yourself and others doesn’t have to be a difficult or frustrating experience. It does take practice and a willingness to distinguish between those things over which we actually have control (ourselves) and those things over which we do not have control (people, places, things, situations, and events). It is an inside out process that begins with internal changes that result in external manifestations (better and more mature choices and behaviors).
The first step in developing the kind of life you always thought was possible begins with a well-defined sense of self. If you are interested in learning more about living a calm, non-reactive, stable, and restful life, regardless of your external circumstances, you can begin your journey today. Call or go online to schedule your new client appointment.
Chrysalis Connections, LLC
Relationship Counseling & Family Leadership Center
Dr. Teresa M. Walters
204 Hobbs Street
Plainfield, IN 46168