My Business, Their Business.
Monday, April 27, 2015
Sarah Waldin

There is someone in my life who uses me and my reactions to them as an excuse not to live fully, openly and honestly. They say that they don't want to tell me what they really think and feel because they want to avoid a reaction. They don't want to be honest with me for fear of my responses.

Now there are times when I respond (let's call it react!) in a way that I wish were different. I would like to be calmer, jump to fewer conclusions, take that all-important breath before responding and so on. I work on my responses and reactions daily. I read about them, think about them, reflect upon how I could have done things differently and I get frustrated at my humanness and weaknesses all the time.

(I am also compassionate rather than self-critical these days thank goodness - it works so much more effectively when I face ongoing work on myself. At the very least, I get a sense that self-compassion helps me keep on keeping on the journey towards that zen person I yearn to be. But I digress ...)

This person is like so many others I've met. This person hides behind "nice", uses passive aggression (things like facial expressions and eye rolling, sighs and walking away), employs distraction and plain old silence - the martyr type of silence where they suffer in a sort of silence that is actually really loud! When asked if there is anything wrong, they reply with "no, nothing wrong with me but YOU seem ..." or "well there is but I didn't want to say anything because I didn't want to disappoint you" or if they tell me what it is and I respond with frustration at their choice to "suffer in silence" when I just wish they would come out with it they say "see, this is what I thought would happen".

My response to all of this is disbelief, frustration, even anger. I feel like I am being held responsible (by them) for their choices on how they live. I struggle so much with others, in general, wanting to make me responsible for their happiness or using my responses and reactions (and I am not always proud of how I react to things) as an excuse for THEM not living. 

I feel trapped and want to run away. I want desperately to care less than I do. I want my intentions towards others to be understood correctly rather than misunderstood and used against me as if they are truth. I want others to want to live their lives as fully as possible and not allow my reactions to stifle their expression.

I see in this paragraph above that I want others to do the work for me so I don't have to do it for myself. I want them to take responsibility for themselves because I feel that I have enough to take care of with just being responsible for myself. 

I feel confused, like I don't really understand what is happening when other's tell me that I need to change so that they won't feel so little. Is that my job? Is it my fault they are feeling this way? Have I done anything today, in this moment, to cause them pain? If I have then I am ready to apologise. 

If I haven't, and they are invoking my past responses as reason for them not living their lives or being completely honest with me, then is that my responsibility? 

I don't know for sure. I want to know more about this. I want to know where my business stops and theirs starts - because I am willing to change, but I want to be working on the things that I have a choice about. 

Other people's decisions on how they behave and respond to me are not my business or anything I have choice over. 

Article originally appeared on Sarah Waldin: psychotherapist, counsellor, mind-set facilitator (
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