Listening deeply and minding my own business has become the way to obtain the peace that I desire in all my relationships.
Relationship building is not easy, the right things to do can seem paradoxical in nature.
A goal of mine this year was to be a better wife, sister, daughter, mother, friend, and co-worker. I used to think that I was in everyone else’s lives to do something for them. That could mean a lot of things, but for me, it means to serve them in the way that fit their needs as I perceived them. With that attitude, I was often interfering with the harmony that could exist in these relationships.
In recent months, I came to an epiphany that I thought couldn’t work until I tried it: mind your own business. It seemed so silly to me. Doesn’t being a good friend, spouse, child, sister, mean being involved? Doesn’t it mean bringing others into my fold and teaching them what I know? Doesn’t it mean putting them ahead of myself? What I found was that it does involve those principles, but not while employing the strategies I was using. It’s a work in progress, but here is my journey to start minding my own business to allow that harmony to improve in those relationships.
I tried asking my friends and family how they are doing and listening with the pure intent to understand their situation.
Then, I made a point to not pass judgment about their answer. This takes a lot of awareness, and I am still honing this skill. I used to listen to determine what kind of advice I would give but found that people ask for help when they are ready for it. I also concluded that it is easier to articulate that guidance in a concise way when I am asked, not necessarily when I want to give it.
I tried letting go of my angry feelings when my spouse didn’t react to a situation the way that I would prefer. I didn’t try to spin my thoughts positively or reassure myself. I just turned off my judgment. This was a harder task for me, and I am still learning how to do it on a consistent basis, but I experienced more peace in these instances, as well.
As a mother, I have better days and terrible days. If you took separate snapshots of 20 minutes of my interactions with my kids, you might wonder if it’s the same person. Parenting proves to be the most challenging for minding my own business. My job as a parent is to socialize my children and teach them good ethics. So, I tried to apply this principle as delicately as I could. For example, I asked my 3-year-old about his favorite things and cared more for the positive interaction than what he chose to say. He said that blue was his favorite color- even though he says green 99% of the time. With this principle in mind I said, “Oh, blue is a beautiful color.” I said this instead of what I normally said before: “You usually say green is your favorite.” This attitude change in our conversations seemed to feed that love in our relationship and make way for smoother and open discussions.
He was more likely to tell me things that he liked when I approached his thoughts and feelings with validation.
The most important takeaway for me wasn’t learning a new set of communication skills; it was a new attitude about my goals for my relationships. Listening deeply and minding my own business gave me further evidence about how my fears, thoughts, and feelings tend to get in the way of the peace that I desire in those relationships. With this knowledge, I feel more open to deepening my understanding and doing some self-reflection to assess my growth without harsh judgment.
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