How to Mind Your Own Business

It’s easier to help other people than yourself.

  • Your help isn’t requested or desired.
  • Your opinion isn’t taken seriously.
  • You have fires burning at home.

Doing favors makes us feel important

You might wonder why we keep diving into everyone’s chaos if it doesn’t do us any good. It’s all about the dopamine, baby.

Avoid charity therapy syndrome

There’s a dark side to the Ben Franklin effect. If you’re facing some serious crags in your own life, then going out of your way for everyone else gives you a little break from that. You might do tons of favors just to feel better about yourself. It boosts your self-esteem.

  • You might try to do someone else’s job.
  • You might try to “save” someone from themselves.
  • You might try to take charge of a failing company.
  • You might go around offering unsolicited advice.
  • You might try to fix things that aren’t broken.
  • You might try to mentor someone who doesn’t need it.

Treating yourself well isn’t selfish

There’s nothing wrong with the occasional favor. But at some point you have to start doing them for yourself.

  1. It’s easier to admit everyone else has a problem.
  2. By helping everyone else all the time, you feel good without confronting or admitting any of your own issues.
  3. You allow yourself to feel superior to everyone around you.

Learn when to say no

Make one simple rule for yourself: Never do a favor for anyone just to make yourself feel good. That’s easy, and destructive. You have to figure out where you’ll make the biggest impact.

You have a particular set of skills

We seem to think that the worse a problem gets, the more we’re needed. That’s just not true. To paraphrase Liam Neeson, every single one of us has a particular set of skills.

  1. Someone else needs your help more.
  2. You don’t have the skills.
  3. You don’t have the patience.
  4. You’ve got your own problems to address.

Get real with yourself

All of us just want to feel needed somewhere. When we don’t, that’s when we’re vulnerable to charity therapy. We’ll keep loaning our brains out to anyone. It doesn’t matter if they need our help, or want it.

Figure out what matters

Sit down and think about what you want to get done, and why. Make a list of who and what matters most in your life. When someone seems to need your help, run through this little list:

  • Are they asking for you help?
  • What are you qualified to do?
  • Will they listen to your advice?
  • Why is this important to you?
  • If you help them, what will happen next?
  • Are you willing to keep helping them?
  • Is there something else you need to be doing?
  • Could someone else help them better?

Keep your priorities straight

You’ll keep coming across incompetence. You’ll see things and people that need to be fixed. The stronger your compulsion to fix them, the more you need to sit down and think first. In a nutshell:

  1. But it can distract you from your own problems.
  2. You can get lost in charity therapy.
  3. Helping the right people means making tough choices.
  4. It also means having a realistic attitude about yourself.

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