I’ve been studying Byron Katie’s The Work lately, and in it she proposes that our thoughts are really the culprit for our negative feelings and emotions—specifically, our thoughts that argue with reality. Katie expresses that there are three kinds of business: yours, mine, & God’s (AKA the Universe or reality—reality rules, after all!)
Much of what she says resonates with me.
After all, it makes sense that when arguing with reality, you’re sure to lose.
But one of her core concepts that I think anyone can benefit from is Staying in Your Own Business.
She discusses how most of our stress comes from outside our own business.
When we think our partner, kids, or colleagues should or shouldn’t do something—we’re in their business.
We think they should stop smoking, be more considerate, clean up after themselves—and we think it’s for their happiness and well-being. But it’s their reality, their business—not mine.
When we worry about things that might happen, like earthquakes, war, or when we’ll die, we’re in God’s business, which is anything that’s out of your or my control.
If we’re mentally in someone else’s or God’s business, not only do we separate ourselves and feel lonely, but we aren’t able to live our OWN lives and be present with our own business because we’re all caught up in someone else’s.
If we think we know what’s best for someone else, we’re not in our business.
Katie notes to ask “What’s right for me? That is my only business.”
This is a simple concept but has been very eye-opening.
Even without any context for the rest of her teachings, keeping this question in mind “Who’s Business?” would likely solve a good chunk of our problems.
Whenever I feel activated or irritated lately, especially when the words “should” or “shouldn’t” come up, I’ve started asking myself “Who’s Business?”
When I feel an urge to provide advice, I’ll ask “Who’s Business?”
And when someone wants to complain about someone else and I just don’t want to hear it, instead of saying anything at all I’ll just think to myself “Who’s business?” (And then I’ll feel compassion for them being all up in someone else’s!).
It’s actually provided a great deal of relief, knowing that, not only do I not need to worry about anyone else’s business—I can’t do anything about it anyway!
I encourage you to go through this exercise on yourown the next time you feel upset with someone.
It isn’t about beating yourself up—but letting go. If it isn’t your business, you’re free! Save that energy for yourself and you can do so much more with it.
If you want to learn more about Byron Katie’s work, I highly recommend checking out her book Loving What Is. Be ready to take responsibility for ALL of your feelings and problems, though—she’s serious about no excuses! (In a truly compassionate way.)