Mind Your Own Beeswax

February 1, 2008 at 1:18 pm 4 comments

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.

Business model

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.


Entry filed under: Changing Your Mind.

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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. pam ballo  |  February 13, 2008 at 9:58 am

    Hi Bridgette,
    Great article – one my favorite mantras is ‘If I’m minding your business, who is minding mine?’ The reverse works too – ‘If you are minding my business, who is minding yours?’ but in an effort to stay in my business, I favor the first one 🙂

    Love the bubbles…thanks for the great article!

  • 2. inner180  |  February 14, 2008 at 4:39 pm

    I still have a hard time with this one. I agree with everything you say, except…..I keep wondering and telling my husband that there must be another category: our business.

    Seriously, there are some issues which just seem like “our business” for example, where to live, whether to have children, how to raise them, how to spend money. What do you think when it comes to couples? Is there such a thing as our business?

    Your article is great, and I just wonder if anyone else is puzzled by this from time to time.


  • 3. Bridgette Boudreau  |  February 14, 2008 at 7:53 pm

    I think you raise a great point Terry! As a couple, there are definitely decisions that qualify as “our business”. Perhaps “our business” can be the ideal merger of two individual “my businesses” (a bubble merger if you will) where each person is paying attention to their own reactions and keeping their side of the street clean so true sharing of ideas and desires can happen. If each person was paying attention to their own business, it would allow for tough discussions without so much dysfunction.

    I really like the idea of “our business” as I think this is a great way for couples to approach this discussion–from the perspective of what’s best for both.

  • 4. March Newsletter « Momentum LifeWorks Blog  |  March 8, 2008 at 1:48 pm

    […] It’s bad for you and it’s bad for the other you supposedly don’t want to offend. Besides, it’s not your business how the other person […]


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