Love Letters to Humans (no. 90) — on the Paradox of Minding Your Business

Paradoxically, minding your business is a profoundly effective practice for cultivating relational joy.

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“Mind your business” is the most useful, important, and enduring piece of advice I’ve ever received from Lena West. I love shorthand reminders like this. This one serves me in my actual business, and—when I practice—it improves every other relationship in my life.

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Minding your business doesn’t mean ignoring other people’s feeling, needs, and desires—it means releasing the contemptuous idea that you are single-handedly responsible for creating their experience of you. That’s a LOT of power that you don’t actually have.

Other people are participants—not passengers—in their relationships with you. Like you, they have their own business to mind. They are responsible for their words and actions, their feelings and judgments, their beliefs and desires, their commitments and decisions… and their ideas about you. You don’t get to control that stuff—not if you want joyful connection.

It seems obvious but it bears stating explicitly: Control is generally a garbage strategy for building trust, intimacy, and relational joy.

Minding your business is taking responsibility for your words and actions, your feelings and judgments, you beliefs and desires, your commitments and decisions… and YOUR ideas about you. It frees you to make decisions from a place of sovereignty, love, and regard for yourself and the other, rather than trying to manage someone else’s business.

Your joy is very much your business, and your business is worth minding.