Whose Business Are You In?
Have you ever noticed that when you spend mental time and energy thinking about other people — what they are thinking, whether or not they like you, why they act the way they do — that you experience more stress? Prior to becoming a life coach, I spent the majority of my time in other people’s business. I thought about my students, their parents, my family, my partner, friends and even strangers that I would see at the grocery store. Truth be told, I have a judgmental streak that I am trying to heal. To be fair, we live in a pretty judgmental society. I had been trained how to support people with disabilities to obtain and maintain community employment, and I was considered an expert, although I neither liked nor claimed that label. Nonetheless, somewhere along the way, I began to think that I knew what was best for people. “If David could act like this during an interview, he would have a better chance of getting the job.”
An eye-opening lesson occurred when I worked on a federal grant that was researching ways to support people with disabilities not only to be successful in community employment, but also to be more interdependent on their co-workers, supervisors and the community as opposed to being dependent on paid support staff. One of the many things we uncovered was that the more involved people were in their own decision making and lives, the more successful and happy they were.
This is not rocket science. The people with disabilities we supported began making choices as to where they wanted to seek employment, how many hours they wanted to work, and if they wanted to quit and pursue a different job, etc. But those of us who are nondisabled take these choices for granted when undertaking our life’s pursuit. And realizing that made a world of difference in how I supported my students.
I am ashamed to say that while I have always believed that everyone has the right and responsibility to make choices regarding his/her life, I still tended to be pushy or controlling when offering support. This carried over into my personal life, where I was sometimes bossy with friends and offered uninvited advice. I could even hear myself say, “Don’t you think you should go to the doctor?” — as if putting it in the form of a question made it any less bossy! I had become overly responsible, and I stopped being present in my own life because I was spending my mental energy in others’ lives. As a result, I began to suffer.
Byron Katie is an American speaker and author who teaches a method of self-inquiry known as “The Work.” It is a lovely way to help people work through grief. In addition to her amazing contribution of “The Work” (www.thework.com), it was Katie who came up with another tool to help relieve suffering. She asks the question, “Whose business are you in?” Katie explains that there are three types of business in the world: 1) your business, 2) my business and 3) God’s or the Universe’s business. She simply states, “Much of our stress comes from mentally living out of our own business” (Loving What Is).
Instantly, Katie’s message made sense to me. Now, I am not saying that I have not slipped into someone else’s business since then. I inadvertently wind up in other people’s business occasionally. Yet now I just need to ask myself or hear, “Whose business are you in?” and I am instantly reminded where I don’t want to be. After embracing this tool and looking back over my previous five years of supporting people with disabilities, it became clear that I had spent a tremendous amount of energy in other people’s business, thereby creating my own stress.
Today, I try hard to stay in my own business. As a result, I find that much of my stress has dissipated. It’s amazing! Ultimately, I only have control over myself and my choices. I don’t have control over anything or anyone else. This is a healthy reminder of that basic tenet.
Successful athletes have understood this notion for a long time. You hear interviews constantly in which athletes are asked what they are going to do about their competitors and what they will bring to any race, game or tournament. Successful athletes consistently tend to answer, “I am going to concentrate on me, my race or my game.” They don’t get caught up in how their opponent is training, what shoes the other is wearing or the other person’s strategy. They play their game. Athletes know that they are at their best when they are focused and in their own business.
Did you find yourself in other people’s business yesterday or today?
Do yourself a favor and try to stay in your own business for three days and see if it makes any difference in your life.
Please share what you discover.
I was fortunate to be invited to be interviewed by Bloom magazine about my Caring for the Caregiver workshop which is coming up this fall. This has been a delightful experience. I want to thank Maryellen Greulich, who really started the ball rolling. I thought I would share the article that is in the current issue of Bloom. In their online version, they also share my Caring for the Caregiver video. So, reserve your spot now for one of the teasers or the four-day workshop. Visit my website for exact dates and times. I look forward to seeing you there!
It’s also time for another recipe. This is a great summer or fall recipe.
Enjoy! I have!
Spaghetti with Pesto Verde
Makes four main dish servings
6 oz. baby spinach
1 T fresh, chopped rosemary
1 clove garlic
2 medium zucchini, trimmed
2 ripe medium tomatoes, cored
8 oz. whole-grain spaghetti
1 C fresh basil leaves
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
2 T pine nuts
Salt and pepper
1/4 C olive oil 1 oz. freshly grated parmesan cheese
Heat large, covered saucepot of water to boiling on high.
In microwave-safe bowl, combine spinach, broccoli, garlic and 1 C of water. Cover with vented plastic wrap and microwave on high for three to five minutes or until broccoli is thawed and spinach is tender. Drain; let cool completely!
Meanwhile, with vegetable peeler, peel zucchini into wide ribbons. Chop tomatoes.
Cook spaghetti as label directs.
Place cooled broccoli mixture, basil, lemon juice, pine nuts and 1/4 tsp. of salt and pepper in food processor; pulse until smooth. With processor running, drizzle in oil. Add parmesan cheese and pulse until well combined.
Drain spaghetti well and return to pot; add pesto, zucchini, tomatoes and 1/4 tsp. of salt (if desired). Toss well and serve immediately!
This is just too yummy — let me know how it goes for you!
Finally, I wanted to share one of my reads from this summer. I have read so many great things, but I wanted to give a special shout out to Dr. Lissa Rankin’s Mind Over Medicine. I am super thrilled about this new book. Rankin does an amazing job of marrying intuition with science and shows us all how to acknowledge our true power to heal and live with optimal health.
Staying in our own business is a choice. We can choose to stay in our business or we can choose to live in other people’s business and create suffering for ourselves. I invite you to watch this Ralph Marston slide show with new eyes and think about all the choices that we make each day. Are they choices that are moving us forward on our unique path? Or are they choices that lead us away from our best life? Remember, they are all choices.
Until next time,
Safe Space Life Coaching