The subtle art of minding your own business

Learn to walk away from stressful situations for your peace of mind

In Summary

• Negative energy can drain you, so it is best to live and let live


In his popular self-help book, The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck, Mark Manson discusses how the younger generations are emotionally unequipped to handling the realities of the world.

Just as Mason discovers that the mindset of rewarding children just for showing up has weakened them into spoiled young adults who cannot cope in the real world, I have also discovered the secret to an emotionally stabilised mind.

In the past few months, when I have talked about finding balance, cutting off toxic people and the downside of being dependable, I came to realise that the answer to all these things was simple: minding your own business.

Humans are curious by nature. Sometimes we call it nosey or gossipy, but most of us enjoy the feeling of being informed or being wanted. Relationships come with expectations of support, be it emotional or otherwise. Having support in relationships is a good thing; we need people we can rely on whenever we are in need. However, being overly compassionate can leave one drained.

I have written so many times about the effects of being the rock for others to rely on. The downside of being “too available” for others is the emptiness that remains when they have exhausted your mental, physical and financial vaults.

There is a saying that when we share our problems with others, we feel better. The instant feeling of relief comes from passing on some of that burden to someone else.

This is what I consider a loose application of Thermodynamic Law in society. If energy can neither be created nor destroyed but is transferred from one form to another, this means that when we share our feelings with people, we are merely passing on some of the energy we have unto them. Which is why in a situation where a person shares a happy piece of news, chances are that your energy will change because you share the person's happiness.

When we share our frustrations with others, we are likely to pass on some of that stress as well. I have a relative who is guilty of this and from her, I have learnt to perfect the art of minding my own business. Because she lives alone, she hardly gets to share her stresses with anyone so anytime she is in a familiar setting she will start.

In the beginning, it felt like she was asking for help, but no matter how much you advise her, she doesn’t take it. I later realised it was her way of ‘dumping out her load’ so she can return to the cycle with space to carry more. From then on, I have put up an emotional barrier whenever she speaks. I listen but I am not drawn in by the emotions. It is not easy to master the art of blocking out unwarranted energies, but it is possible.

There are some tricks I have learnt along the way that help me be as supportive to others without being drawn into their shenanigans. Firstly, when someone wants you to listen to them, do just that. Do not go into such a conversation invested in the outcome. Do not think you can fix the problem for the other person. Be the empty chamber they need to scream out their frustrations.

Secondly, be aware. If an issue being addressed by others might or might not concern you, keep away from it. Avoid chatting about matters that have no direct consequence to you. It is okay to feel empathy for others going through a tough time without being involved. These days when family discuss issues that would have otherwise provoked me, I simply walk away.

Thirdly, learn to accept people as they are. There are very many personalities in my community and I have learnt how to deal with each of them. When the broke person starts playing his tune, I walk away. When the narcissist tries to tear me down, I give them a blank smile. They will not change no matter how much you help them. Life is so way less stressful if we all just mind our own business.