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Minding your own business does more for your peace and happiness than almost anything else.
Furthermore, minding your business should improve your friendships and relationships because people with healthy boundaries do not want to spend their time with nosy busybodies.
But suppose you are a nosy busybody—how can you resist the temptation to pry into the lives of others? How do you rein in behaviors that others consider intrusive?
The good news is that minding your own business is a skill that you can learn and practice. Let’s take a deeper look at how you can stay in your own lane.
Why can’t I mind my own business?
You would think that someone would have better things to do than poke their nose into business that’s not theirs; but no. Many people seemingly have nothing better to do.
There are many reasons why someone might not mind their business. It’s not always as simple as ‘this person is nosy.’ Let’s have a look at some other reasons that may not be as obvious.
1. You may have poor personal boundaries.
Personal boundaries start to form in childhood. Unfortunately, childhood trauma and overbearing parents can distort the way your personal boundaries form.
A person who has been victimized may have had their personal boundaries broken down by their abuser so they would be easier to take advantage of.
A child has no way to prevent or address that kind of harm. The abuser, who may be that child’s parent or guardian, is obviously not going to take them for any kind of meaningful help, so their abuse isn’t discovered. The years that the child experiences trauma and abuse continue to shape the way they relate to others.
The repercussions of child abuse and domestic abuse can carry on as habits by the victim. They may have poor personal boundaries for themselves and others because that’s just what they learned.
They may need help healing their trauma, allowing themselves to be vulnerable, and learning social skills like minding their business.
2. You may be trying to fix the other person.
Some people snoop because of good intentions and genuine concern for the other person.
It isn’t that they want to know another’s business because they want to interfere or meddle. No, they think that by knowing what is going on in a person’s life, they can help, whether that’s true or not.
That is a violation of privacy and boundaries. There are plenty of things that you shouldn’t stick your nose into or you may find the other person angry at you.
The truth is that you can’t fix another person. People need to be free to make their own choices, including bad ones.
Of course, that isn’t true all the time. You may need to get involved if something is seriously wrong. Still, most things aren’t. Most things are just growing pains and life lessons that you may prevent your loved one from gaining by trying to fix things for them.
3. You may have issues with control.
Control comes in many forms and happens for different reasons.
Some seek control because they are genuinely uncomfortable with too many possibilities. They self-soothe by convincing themselves that they’ve considered every angle and have a plan for everything. Of course, life doesn’t often work out that way. Many problems manifest from circumstances that are out of your control.
People who aren’t minding their own business because they want control may not be doing it for malicious reasons. Control is a self-soothing mechanism for trauma, anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues that need to be addressed.
You may not even be aware that sticking your nose where it doesn’t belong is an unhealthy coping mechanism.
4. You may be afraid to confront your own problems.
Do you know what’s easier than dealing with your own problems? Focusing on someone else’s.
It’s much easier to have a front-row seat to another person’s problems, dispense advice, and not have to deal with the consequences that arise.
For example, anyone can say “Just eat less if you want to lose weight!” That sounds easy enough, especially if you ignore all the complicated parts of the statement. What about nutrition education? Eating disorders? Mental illness?
A person not minding their own business may be engaging in avoidant behavior. They may not be ready to deal with their own problems. Those problems can be mental illness, personal circumstances, relationship issues, work stress, or anything that a person would want to avoid or escape.
Sometimes that’s all it is—escapism.
5. You don’t have anything better to do with your time.
There are a lot of hours in the day when you don’t have anything to occupy them. Granted, we live in a busy world where it seems like there is always something to do.
That isn’t the case for everyone. Some people really do have nothing better to do with their time than gawk and meddle in others’ business. Their curiosity simply gets the better of them because they are bored.
Maybe you lack something meaningful to do that provides you with spiritual nourishment; that is, something that makes you feel accomplished. Instead of prying, you could instead be pursuing a new hobby, volunteering, exercising, or doing literally anything other than prying.
6. You may envy their life, finding it more interesting than yours.
Envy is not a good look for anyone, but it is something we all feel at some point.
The truth is that it’s easy to look at someone who seems to have it better than you and want what they have.
Social media is particularly bad for this when you see influencers, friends, and family all showing the best parts of their lives when yours may not be doing so well.
Influencer and celebrity culture may play a role. Maybe you don’t have the money to go traveling or whatever it is you want to do, but you can try to live vicariously through others.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to get a glimpse of how other people live, but all things need moderation. You can’t let that desire cause you to cross boundaries.
Set your own goals and work toward them. It’s how you can mind your own business in life while simultaneously working toward what you want to experience.
7. You may be lonely and trying to develop a connection.
You may not realize it, but prying and interfering in other people’s lives may also be a symptom of loneliness.
Loneliness can cause people to do things that are out of character. Furthermore, you may be lacking the appropriate social skills to create healthy connections and relationships.
That translates into not minding your own business in relationships and friendships. From there, you wind up putting other people off and then you’re not able to create the connections that you desire.
Lonely people often try to rush the friendship process. Developing rapport and friendship with someone is usually done in smaller steps. Introductions are made, small talk is developed, then the talks get deeper and more information is exchanged over time. Sometimes you have chemistry with someone, sometimes you don’t and you go your separate ways.
Still, it helps to assess how you feel about other people. Do you feel lonely? Is it causing you to pry uncomfortably into others’ business? Do they feel put off and withdraw from you during the conversation? Loneliness can sometimes seem like desperation, which is a turn-off for many.
How do I mind my own business?
With the causes above in mind, go through the following tips and try to implement those that are most applicable to your situation.
1. Avoid gossip.
People love gossip. It’s exciting to feel like you are in the know about some drama that is unfolding.
The problem is that gossip causes unnecessary stress in your life. If you are gossiping or receiving gossip, you are intentionally choosing not to respect people’s boundaries.
No one likes that. You probably don’t like it when others aren’t minding their own business and butting into yours.
And why don’t you like it? The obvious reason is that it’s your business to mind.
The not-so-obvious reason is that gossip often isn’t an accurate reflection of the situation. There are usually holes in the story, unknown motivations, or the person who is spreading the gossip is sprinkling some additional flavor on top to make the scandal a bit spicier.
That gossip may also stem from something deeply personal and painful. Gossips may find it exciting that Sharon had a blowout fight with her husband. It’s not so entertaining when you find out the reason is that Sharon can’t get pregnant and it’s tearing their relationship apart.
Avoid gossip. It’s not a good thing. Don’t spread it, don’t receive it.
And if someone tries to spread it to you, say to them, “Why are you telling me this? I’m trying to mind my own business.”
That will clearly communicate that you are not interested in gossip. Be forewarned, you may find that other gossips stop talking to you over it. After all, they are there for the gossip.
2. Accept other people as they are.
People are often messy because they are trying to work through the harm and heartbreaks they’ve experienced. Minding your business can be easier when you remove the idea of drama and spectacle from the equation.
The greatest thing you can do to find more peace with other people is to accept them for who they are, not try to change them, and stop trying to fix people’s problems for them.
You can decide to be a positive influence and encourage people on their path, but you can’t fix anyone other than yourself. That’s not for you to do, not for a romantic partner, not for your children, not for anyone but you.
Stay in your lane and stop interfering with their lives. That’s how to mind your own business in a relationship or friendship.
That doesn’t mean you should accept bad behavior or not try to intervene in bad behavior if it’s within your power. Instead, you need to accept that it’s outside of your control and may not be worth involving yourself in.
Master the art of minding your own business by never giving unsolicited advice. And even if it is solicited, you may find it’s better not to give advice to preserve your peace by not getting involved. You’ll find that people will hold you responsible for your advice on their choices.
3. Accept responsibility for your thoughts and feelings.
We lose a lot of our power and peace of mind by giving our emotions over to other people.
We cannot control the actions of others, but we can control how we respond to those actions. Yes, someone might do something hurtful to you, and you would feel justified in being hurt.
Your hurt may be fair and reasonable. But do they think that way? Do they care? They may not.
You may get hurt, stand up for yourself, and find that it goes nowhere because the other person feels justified in their actions. What do you do in that situation?
Minding your business may be your best option. The opinions others have about you are not your business. You may feel like you can correct those wrong opinions or even lash back at the person by getting involved in the conflict, but it often doesn’t do any good. They’re more interested in the gossip and drama than you are.
You don’t want to ignore conflict completely. Conflict is a necessary part of human interaction, friendship, and relationship building. You’re going to have disagreements with people that you’re close to, and that’s okay. Those points of conflict serve as building blocks in strengthening a relationship as you work with that person to find a resolution.
Still, you may wish to choose not to care about their opinion. It’s difficult to do at first, but it gets easier the more you do it.
4. Don’t form unnecessary opinions.
“Do I need to have an opinion on this?”
How is it that we form an opinion about someone else? It might seem obvious, but you need to be in their business to begin with. Otherwise, how would you know or why would you care?
One way to stop talking about people is to refrain from forming opinions about their life. You can stay in your own lane, focus on yourself and handle your own business. You aren’t required to have an opinion, particularly if the business doesn’t affect you.
Another issue is having an informed opinion. You will never get the full picture from gossip alone. There’s likely to be some piece of information that could change the context of a situation, revealing that your opinion was wrong all along.
And for what? There’s nothing to gain by having unnecessary, incorrect opinions.
Incorrect opinions can help shape your perception and interactions with others, often in a negative way. This results in unfair judgment and conflict that didn’t need to exist if you had just minded your business.
These problems also rob you of meaningful emotional energy to pour into the things that matter, like a cause you might believe in, working on yourself, or fixing your own life. Conserve that emotional energy and peace of mind by questioning your opinions.
5. Question your emotions.
All day, every day, we are flooded with emotions about different things, but not all feelings are worth our time and attention.
You may ask yourself, “Why can’t I mind my own business?” And the answer may be that you’re following your emotions too much. Just because we feel something doesn’t mean we need to act on those feelings.
Let’s say you’re suspicious of your partner. Still, it’s typically better to mind your own business in a relationship without any kind of tangible reason not to. Suspicions can certainly lead to uncovering an unsavory truth, but they can also destroy a good relationship. No one likes to have their privacy violated.
The question to address is, “Is there a good reason for me to act on these emotions?”
You may find that an impulsive, emotional reaction doesn’t serve you well. The only way to intercept those emotions is by pausing to question the emotion. Once you do that, you can decide to step outside of your lane if the situation warrants your attention.
6. Ask yourself, “Does this affect me?”
Before interjecting yourself into anyone’s business, ask yourself “Does this affect me?” If the answer is no, then you most likely don’t need to know about it or be involved.
You can even apply this question to other facets of your life. What does affect you and what doesn’t? What do you have control over and what don’t you?
You can create so much peace for yourself by considering what affects you and what doesn’t. Furthermore, it helps you stay in your own lane and focus more on your life than others.
Are you someone who is into celebrity culture? Why? Does it affect you? Does it matter to your life at all? Not at all. They’re millionaires doing whatever crazy stuff they’re doing that the media is currently blasting out because people give their attention to it. All that does is waste your time.
Then you have the drama in the lives of the people around you. Does it concern you? No? Then why waste your time on it? You only have so many hours in the day. Mind your own business and focus on your life instead.
7. Don’t provide solicited or unsolicited advice.
Don’t provide solicited or unsolicited advice. Typically, you’d see this point stated as “don’t provide unsolicited advice.” However, what many people don’t consider is that offering solicited advice can be just as bad if not worse.
First, for you to offer an informed opinion and advice requires you to be involved in that person’s business. If you’re trying to mind your business, then you’re already on the wrong path.
Second, you don’t know what the actual truth of the matter is. You’re only hearing what this person is telling you. If others are involved, they will have their own take on what’s going on. Even then, that’s all just opinions. Then there is the matter of the actual truth at the core of it all.
Third, you may end up blamed for your solicited advice which pulls you deeper into their business. You can give the absolute perfect advice for a situation and it just blows up in their face. Maybe someone did something unexpected. Maybe they only followed part of your advice. It could be that the advice you gave was based on a mistaken impression. Maybe they just straight-up lied to you. Whatever the cause, they may turn around and blame you for it because you gave the advice.
Unsolicited advice is something people don’t often want to hear. And while some want to hear solicited advice, you do need to be wary about giving it because you are interjecting yourself into their business. Sometimes the best advice you can give is, “You should really talk to a professional about that. I can’t help you.”
How do I keep other people out of my business?
Minding your own business often includes keeping people out of yours. Drama likes to follow drama. Other people may stick their noses into your business because you’ve been in theirs.
Therefore, it is helpful to understand how you can keep other people out of your business when they intrude.
1. Establish boundaries.
People treat you how you train them to treat you. That is, if you let people act toward you with bad behavior, they will come to understand that you will accept their bad behavior. They will learn they can keep coming back to pry into your life if you let that happen.
But if you’re trying to mind your own business, then you want to ensure other people stay out of yours so that you don’t get pulled into an unhealthy dynamic.
The solution is to establish boundaries.
“I don’t want to talk about that.”
“That’s personal. I’m not talking about that.”
Whatever statement you make, ensure it is direct and clear. Don’t use wishy-washy language like, “I don’t think that’s a good idea…” because it invites additional conversation. By using that language, you’re telling the person that you can be convinced otherwise.
In a perfect world, you’d establish your boundaries and that would be the end of it. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world. You may have to decide whether or not you want to cut someone off if they can’t respect your boundaries.
But what if you can’t just cut the person off? Well, there are other strategies for avoiding drama.
2. Gray Rock.
One way you can make other people mind their business is by embracing the Gray Rock strategy.
Essentially, you make yourself as boring and uninteresting as possible. That way, the person interested in your personal business loses interest and looks for someone else to intrude on.
“How are you doing?” I’m fine.
“How’s work going?” It’s not bad.
“Do anything interesting lately?” Mmm, not really.
You can’t always cut someone out of your life to protect your personal space. Instead, you sometimes need to step around them. The Gray Rock strategy is one easy way to do that because you’re not fighting with the person over it.
3. Stop talking about your personal business.
Who actually needs to know your personal business? Probably not too many people. In fact, it’s likely that the only people that truly need to know are you and the other people involved.
Stop talking about your own personal business if you want to make it easier to mind your own business. You stop that exchange of information and now you’re limiting what you give and receive.
That also goes for social media. The number of people who put anything and everything on social media is mind-boggling. No one needs to know every facet of your personal life.
Furthermore, employers might search your name to see what your digital footprint looks like. You may find that it affects your personal and professional life if you are engaging in questionable behavior online. It shows poor judgment.
Limiting your time on social media is one way to mind your own business in life. Social media is a spectacle engineered by some of the smartest people in the world to keep you logged on and scrolling. Avoid oversharing, unfollow people and accounts that encourage rubbernecking, or get off social media completely.
4. Address impulsive behavior.
Sometimes, impulsive behavior drives nosiness. Some people feel compelled to start asking questions, trauma dumping, or otherwise making their personal business public.
This compulsive behavior may be caused by mental health problems that need to be addressed with the help of a professional. You will need to identify and understand the root cause of your behavior before you can change it, and this is hard to do by yourself.
Practice makes perfect.
Learning how to mind your own business requires regular practice.
It may not come easily to you at first, but the more you do it, the easier it gets. After a while, you’ll find that you can easily identify what is meant for you and discard the rest.
Minding your own business will reduce the emotional energy you pour out into the rest of the world, leaving you to work on your peace of mind and harmony.
You should also find that you are less stressed, anxious, and even depressed when not pouring emotional energy into things that don’t matter.
Life is far less complicated and happier when you’re not fighting battles that are not yours to fight.
Do you have a serious problem sticking your nose into things that aren’t your business? Does it get you into trouble? Would you like to stop?
Talking to someone can really help you to change your behavior. It’s a great way to get your thoughts and your worries out of your head so you can work through them.
A therapist is often the best person you can talk to. Why? Because they are trained to help people in situations like yours. They can help you to switch off the compulsion you feel to get involved in other people’s business
BetterHelp.com is a website where you can connect with a therapist via phone, video, or instant message.
You might not think your problems are big enough to warrant professional therapy but please don’t do yourself that disservice. Nothing is insignificant if it is affecting your mental well-being.
Too many people try to muddle through and do their best to overcome issues that they never really get to grips with. If it’s at all possible in your circumstances, therapy is 100% the best way forward.
Here’s that link again if you’d like to learn more about the service BetterHelp.com provide and the process of getting started.