Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Mind Your Own Business . . .

"Mind your own business . . . it’s a very popular expression, but I don’t even know what it means. Everyone who knows me knows that I don’t mind my own business. Maybe it’s my nature or maybe it's a learned behavior I acquired from my mother. My mother’s policy was just like New York City"s terrorist slogan, “If you see something, say something." Only in my mother's case, she took it a few steps further: “If you hear something, say something,” if you know something, say something,” “if you feel something, say something.” My mother didn’t need much in the way of provocation to add her two cents, whether the situation concerned her or not. I find myself doing the same thing more and more and yet I don't feel that I am a meddler.

And what’s the harm of it really? I’d rather say something and risk someone may get angry with me for butting in, than for something to happen and regret not saying anything at all. My intentions are always good, at least I think so. My advice is always free. People can always ignore what I tell them if they don't want to hear it; just ask my daughters, who are both very skilled at letting my words go in one ear and out the other. In their defense though, they do get a lot more of my unsolicited counsel than anyone else I know.

I guess you can look at not minding your own business two ways. On the negative side it can be perceived as “butting in” when the matter doesn’t concern you. Some people might reason you only have a right to say something if the issue directly affects you, if not, don’t add your two cents. Sometimes people can misconstrue “butting in” an being nosy or invading their privacy. And there are many times people just want to vent their frustrations and aren’t looking for help or solutions at all. To this last group, I must apologize for my valiant problem-solving efforts. I am a nurturer and "fixer" and can't help myself until all is right with the world.

On the other hand, if you see someone struggling with something and you feel you can offer some good advice or kind words, is that a crime? Not minding your own business, when you have purely good intentions, can be a blessing to someone else. It can be very helpful or comforting. Their struggle may not be your business, it may not affect you at all, but what if you can help them carry that load or even lighten it a bit? How much easier would it be to just walk away and say or do nothing? There would be no risk of meddling, interfering, or invading privacy if you keep silent and ignore the problems of others. It’s much harder to step up and offer a helping hand . . . a hand that one day you might even need in return. This is why I don’t mind my own business. If I see someone drowning, I am going to try and throw them a life preserver or a rope. They are going to know that someone cares. They might appreciate the concern even if they don’t need any help. And if it becomes a problem for them, well then they can always tell me to mind my own business and maybe I will.

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