What They Think Is None of Your Business

Some of the best advice I’ve ever received was, “What they think is none of your business,” and though I’m sure I’ve heard it several times, it really sank in as I sat in the sun on top of Clingman’s Dome last summer worrying about what the tourists thought of a group of prayerful folks gathered for ceremony.

These words have been healing, but they’ve also been permission to *stop* trying to please everyone before they even request something. Whenever I find myself trying to predict someone’s reaction to my doing or not doing something, I can stop, breathe, step back and detach.

These words have been great for when things come up with my family. My step-mother thinks that what other people think *is* our business, because she believes their thoughts can affect us. While I don’t disagree with her–other people’s thoughts and intentions absolutely can and do affect us– I also think that in most of our day-to-day lives, it is actions based on thoughts that affect us, not the thoughts themselves.

These words have also served in other ways.

Last week I spent some time with friends in a rented apartment in Glastonbury, England. Normally I would be washing every dish, worrying about their food and whether or not they had what they wanted. There is now a new normal. I took care of my needs, washed my dishes, made sure I had what I wanted, and it was wonderful.

You see, this drive to take care of each other is co-dependence parading as caring. It is a socially acceptable way to insert ourselves into situations and places that are none of our business. In a houseful of mostly grown women it could be seen as nosey or demeaning even. Have you ever had someone try to do everything for you and felt stifled or overwhelmed or like you just want to do it yourself? I have. I don’t like it.

Now I’m bringing this idea to bear in my home with regard to meals and boundaries and gardening and beekeeping and wherever else it needs to come into play.

As of now I resign from the roll of volunteer caretaker of everyone. My family no longer needs that. Most of my kids are grown and the youngest is a very competent 16.
>I resign from the position of sole food prep person.
>I resign from trying to please my husband with the food I prepare, while hating it myself and eating things that are not consistent with the best health of my body.
>I will not try and save his, or their, feelings around this, but will feel my own awareness of what my needs are, my thoughts are, and how my body is reacting to any given situation. And I will caretake myself in any way needed in those moments.

This is growth work and I am grateful for it.

Do you feel concerned with what others think? How have you managed to disconnect from this cultural training?

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