If I were to have a mantra for this year, it would be: None of My Business.
It’s hard. We’re wired as humans, and especially as women, to be helpful. And I love to help…too much, I think. Sometimes it takes the form of offering unsolicited advice. Sometimes a person asks for my advice and I give it, rather than asking questions to draw out their solutions rather than mine. Sometimes I jump in with enthusiasm to work on a project or cause before evaluating whether or not it’s a healthy environment for me.
I’m not judging. Honestly, I love the caring part of my nature. It just needs a bit of tweaking, that’s all. It’s hard to watch someone I care about self-destruct or make a poor decision that will have long-term consequences. And yet, much of the best parts of me are a direct result of lessons I learned from my own mistakes, so who am I to judge? It’s one thing to say I care about you and the choices you’re making. It’s another to keep nagging about it.
Just as all work and no play makes Jill a dull girl, inappropriate giving makes Jill an exhausted girl. Jill stops doing her own work in favor of helping someone else and gets resentful. Jill finds herself in situations where the people she’s helping haven’t been entirely transparent. And when Jill stops taking artificial stimulants, like caffeine and aspartame, Jill starts to realize just how tired she is. One day she wakes up living in paradise, but feeling depressed and depleted.
I’ve battled fatigue for most of my adult life. Medically, I have adjusted my thyroid and Vitamin D levels. I get plenty of sleep, and I eat well. I shelter my introverted self against the overstimulation of groups. And yet, I still struggle…so I cannot waste energy by helping people who are capable of helping themselves. It serves neither me nor them.
I have books to write. My parents need more help from me these days as they age. I have a garden to grow and crafts to make. If I don’t protect my energy for these projects, who will?
A few days ago someone asked me for advice about a business matter. I offered resources but gently, lovingly refused to engage, because to do so would be, in this instance, to step into the middle of a situation that does not belong to me. I said, this is none of my business. The world didn’t end, and this person thanked me for my thoughtful comments and said she understood. I am empowered.
Giving is great. Giving is fun. Giving is rewarding. I just have to learn when and how to do it in a way that doesn’t deplete me. Some things are just none of my business.