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Staying In Your Own Business

--by Byron Katie (May 19, 2014)


I can find only three kinds of business in the universe: mine, yours, and God’s. For me, the word God means "reality." Reality is God, because it rules. Anything that’s out of my control, your control, and
everyone else’s control -- I call that God’s business.

Much of our stress comes from mentally living out of our own business. When I think, "You need to get a job, I want you to be happy, you should be on time, you need to take better care of yourself," I am in your business. When I’m worried about earthquakes, floods, war, or when I will die, I am in God’s business. If I am mentally in your business or in God’s business, the effect is separation.

I noticed this early in 1986. When I mentally went into my mother’s business, for example, with a thought like "My mother should understand me," I immediately experienced a feeling of loneliness. And I realized that every time in my life that I had felt hurt or lonely, I had been in someone else’s business.

If you are living your life and I am mentally living your life, who is here living mine? We’re both over there. Being mentally in your business keeps me from being present in my own. I am separate from myself, wondering why my life doesn’t work.To think that I know what’s best for anyone else is to be out of my business. Even in the name of love, it is pure arrogance, and the result is tension, anxiety, and fear. Do I know what’s right for me? That is my only business. Let me work with that before I try to solve your problems for you. If you understand the three kinds of business enough to stay in your own business, it could free your life in a way that you can’t even imagine.

The next time you’re feeling stress or discomfort, ask yourself whose business you’re in mentally, and you may burst out laughing! That question can bring you back to yourself. And you may come to see that you’ve never really been present, that you’ve been mentally living in other people’s business all your life. Just to notice that you’re in someone else’s business can bring you back to your own wonderful self. And if you practice it for a while, you may come to see that you don’t have any business either and that your life runs perfectly well on its own.

--Byron Katie


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On Apr 24, 2017 Michelle wrote:

 I once heard from an AA member that they learned this simple statement which changed their life "What other people think is none of our business".



On Aug 4, 2014 Nidhi wrote:

And what if someone else is into my business...



On Jul 21, 2014 Akshay Sadana, NJ wrote:

When it come to staying in your own business It is a reflection of some one's staying in his own self and in his own sphere where he is not disturbed or dominated by any one els. We have a nature of being our own master and when we can not be our own master we start getting disturbed. We jut want to do what we like and fallow the faith or path we like not the criticism of any body els. it is like having  our own independence. What actually needed is sharing with will giving with our own willingness. You a brother and sister where as in child hood the younger one/Or the older one likes to posses every thing by himself.  He will not like to give/share any thing to the other brother. In that case those brother and sister will always be a fight with each other. The other brother and sister who are sharing what they have, there is no fight at all. That is the only thing when we want to have every thing by our selves and don't want to share even with our brothers and sister the p  See full.


When it come to staying in your own business It is a reflection of some one's staying in his own self and in his own sphere where he is not disturbed or dominated by any one els.
We have a nature of being our own master and when we can not be our own master we start getting disturbed.
We jut want to do what we like and fallow the faith or path we like not the criticism of any body els.
it is like having  our own independence.
What actually needed is sharing with will giving with our own willingness.
You a brother and sister where as in child hood the younger one/Or the older one likes to posses every thing by himself.  He will not like to give/share any thing to the other brother. In that case those brother and sister will always be a fight with each other. The other brother and sister who are sharing what they have, there is no fight at all.
That is the only thing when we want to have every thing by our selves and don't want to share even with our brothers and sister the problem comes and we become disturbed with our own self and all the times irritated.
But if we have the habit of sharing we have no problem the whole world is our house and we do not have any problem any where because the whole word is our business.

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1 reply: Amy | Post Your Reply
On Jul 7, 2014 steven thompson wrote:

 ignorance is bliss.



1 reply: Jo | Post Your Reply
On Jun 18, 2014 MaryJo wrote:

Several people have commented that this philosophy is selfish and uncaring to others' problems.  For me, however, staying in my own business frees me from judgment and allows me to meet others with more, not less, potential for true relationship.  The truly enlightened spiritual gurus practice total detachment and they exude warmth and kindness to everyone.  Staying out of others' and God's business releases expectations and creates space for healthy connection and respect for every other human being.  When you practice this philosophy, everyone on this planet becomes your business, but "by invitation only" .  That makes a huge difference. 



On May 26, 2014 Sis Asha wrote:

 Peace and Love from Asha! I have discussed this before in my spiritual circle. Most got upset. Most felt that it is OK to get into the business of their loved one. It is important to first erase our belief system before one can accept this very important aspect of spiritual thinking to set you free from the feeling of 'HEAVY'. 



On May 25, 2014 Wilfred wrote:

 Knowing self is more important. In a day we spend most of our time in thinking about others and speaking about others and we fail to think about ourselves. God is with us at all time. It not right forgetting our own life purpose and talking about others. we should know the real purpose of our life with God's plan for us there by we can fullfeel God's , Our and Others business. 



On May 24, 2014 LD wrote:

 To me this means simply, that we cannot control other people's thoughts, actions or words; nor can we make assumptions about the intentions of their thoughts, actions or words.  When we make assumptions or judgements about others, and how their words or actions relate to us, we are likely to suffer. The only "control" we have in life is that of our own thoughts, behaviors, etc.  



2 replies: Mark, Peter | Post Your Reply
On May 22, 2014 ANANTHARAMAN wrote:

 I feel it is not about staying in your own business. As long as you accept the other's business or even god's business as your own business and deal with the issues without being judgemental, and with full committment, and responsibility, there is no distress or disharmony. It is a matter of owning up and life flows. It is part of growing up to be a leader. 



On May 21, 2014 shilpi wrote:

 Does this make you selfish? Arent you doing this sometimes out of love and care and concern?



1 reply: Mark | Post Your Reply
On May 21, 2014 TD wrote:
 This philosophy is neat and clean but out of touch with something fundamental about people. We are relational beings. We need other people to regulate our nervous system, to expand and flourish. In my experience, frustration arises when we project what is true for us unto others. Each person is a macrocosm with its own laws. Approach with openness and curiosity, and the encounter can reveal astounding things about them and ourselves (that's where love, respect and personal growth happens). Approach another macrocosm with our rule book and there will be no resonance. Stress, fear, annoyance, loneliness, anger, hopelessness, etc., etc., ensue. My approach is to go into another's world with nothing but a passport and try to see life through their eyes. It had worked. If everyone did this, the world would be so much safer. If everyone were minding their own business I cannot imagine a feeling of connection, love and joy. 
 

1 reply: Bill | Post Your Reply
On May 21, 2014 Matt wrote:

 In early recovery I found out that I was an emotional enmesher, I lived others ups and downs, wins and losses, felt their pain and suffering and basically was an exposed nerve with no healthy boundaries. It's good to know your motivating factors and even though you may be trying to help you could still be compromising their integrity. As a healer in recovery, we go into engines that are hot and running, and we are building the plane while it is flying, bringing everyone home with a safe landing is the mark of our craft. Peace, Matt



On May 20, 2014 SANJIV BHALLA wrote:

 Why people keen to have others problems and least bother abut their own problems . It gives pleseant  and soothing  effect to the heart of course if one take initiative to solve others problem , giving backseat to his own problem . But if you are living on others dream ,it is not practical be yourself  .



On May 20, 2014 satyagrahi wrote:

 If we only focus on cleaning ourselves and leaving the rest to God, we will have the situation in India where every home is clean and the outside is an incredible mess. We can pollute the Ganga because its God's business to clean it.

There is 'our' business and there is also the overlap in our individual business. Also, there are extroverts who improve by getting feedback from the 'sangha'. Yes, there are yoga practioners who practice and improve on their own. But many find it better to go to a class, get feedback, watch others, make friends, share, comment, ... and improve yoga thru interaction. Often, someone who find it 'their' business to comment on mine, help me grow and learn (even if the feedback is often negative or negatively given). I have found it difficult to work only on myself, by myself.

Service does give me a path, and sangha gives me enormous support and courage.



On May 20, 2014 Annie wrote:

  In my case I feel that the soul connection I have with my father is special, God sent him as my father in earth for a reason and the love we have for each other is unconditional, I am not afraid of my dad physical body leaving this world, my faith and my believe doesn't allow me to feel that way, what I been dealing with is the suffering of the physical and emotional pain that his illness is causing him and seeing and feeling him like that, yes I feel him I had share my life with him for so many years everyday, it's almost impossible not to recognize each others pain (or happiness) as a result of this situation I feel exhausted, meaning my energy level is low, but not all is negative I want to share that I been meditating more than ever now and this connection with myself is what keeps me trough. yes I think balance is the word, aren't we all one energy in different bodies? so my conclusion after reading  See full.

  In my case I feel that the soul connection I have with my father is special, God sent him as my father in earth for a reason and the love we have for each other is unconditional, I am not afraid of my dad physical body leaving this world, my faith and my believe doesn't allow me to feel that way, what I been dealing with is the suffering of the physical and emotional pain that his illness is causing him and seeing and feeling him like that, yes I feel him I had share my life with him for so many years everyday, it's almost impossible not to recognize each others pain (or happiness) as a result of this situation I feel exhausted, meaning my energy level is low, but not all is negative I want to share that I been meditating more than ever now and this connection with myself is what keeps me trough.
yes I think balance is the word, aren't we all one energy in different bodies? so my conclusion after reading many comments is that after all we do learn from other people's business even if it seems negative, it makes us realize things but also when we are in other's business we need to be ready for it and re-energize ourselves that takes more work and discipline, we supposed to be here for each other as well as for ourselves. ONE LOVE!

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On May 20, 2014 Mark C. Williams wrote:

What would the Buddha say?  The four noble truths, the eight fold path, the 5 or 8 precepts, all of these are for a single person to understand and practice.  You can't self-clean by involving yourself in others.  Many of the reflections here from others just get me more confused.  It's rather simple, though like AA, it's hard to practice: stay in your business.  Yes, it's simple and what?  Do you really know more than the Buddha or Jesus?  Do you have a better way?



On May 20, 2014 Peter wrote:

 Balance. I'm sorry Byron. Though I think I understand the point quite well, and though it may work for you (though I'm not sure why you would be here concerning yourself with the business of others if you totally believe what you say) and I do see some truth in what you say, I think balance is the key. We don't live alone nor just for ourselves, though many self-help gurus would encourages us otherwise. Should a mother not be concerned about her daughter's abusive boyfriend? Should she not say something? Should Annie not sacrifice to care for her Dad who has cancer? Certainly there is value in being able to recognize the difference in whose business you're stressing over, but it is indeed simplistic to think we should just be in our own.



On May 20, 2014 Bonnie wrote:

 I believe this is such complicated and essential territory. I have found that when I focus on others to avoid focusing on my own concerns, the avoidance in that doesn't do anyone any good. And yet, when I am in a more centered place, open to my own inner world, focusing with others on their concerns seems to do both of us a lot of good. Neurobiologically speaking, we can't not have some inner awareness of and attention on what is happening for others because we have complex circuitry that is dedicated to that kind of co-resonance. Maybe even more importantly, we are above all attaching beings, continually seeking the warmest connections with others we can imagine. Our very nervous systems are always requesting connection, looking for safe others with whom to share our world. And we define that safety as nonjudgmental, agenda-less presence. In those moments, we move deeply into one another's worlds, not to fix or adjust or make assumptions about what should happen next, but to be  See full.

 I believe this is such complicated and essential territory. I have found that when I focus on others to avoid focusing on my own concerns, the avoidance in that doesn't do anyone any good. And yet, when I am in a more centered place, open to my own inner world, focusing with others on their concerns seems to do both of us a lot of good. Neurobiologically speaking, we can't not have some inner awareness of and attention on what is happening for others because we have complex circuitry that is dedicated to that kind of co-resonance. Maybe even more importantly, we are above all attaching beings, continually seeking the warmest connections with others we can imagine. Our very nervous systems are always requesting connection, looking for safe others with whom to share our world. And we define that safety as nonjudgmental, agenda-less presence. In those moments, we move deeply into one another's worlds, not to fix or adjust or make assumptions about what should happen next, but to be present for the unfolding of the wisdom in our bodies and minds. Without this kind of ongoing support, we don't do very well at any stage of life.  With this support, we have the potential to become more deeply individual by being more deeply connected. Then when life brings the inevitable suffering and challenges, we have rich resources of back-up as things sort themselves out. It really does make all the difference.

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1 reply: Kit | Post Your Reply
On May 20, 2014 Monkeymind Salin wrote:

Everything would be fine if all of you would only accept God and do what I say.



On May 20, 2014 juge wrote:

 When I am aligned and feel myself as being part of the Whole,life is beautiful. No expectation, no worries, no  fear... As soon as I build a fence between myself and the others or in contrary if I project myself in the others, everything get wrong...Trying to be in consciousness...



On May 20, 2014 MK Mueller wrote:

 I wrote a process for my own recovery from codependence 25 years ago, and this teaching from Katie was pivotal to the process. The 3rd "High-Way" of 8 to Great is Full Responsibility. Now we have over 2000 trainers teaching this powerful concept that "I'm in charge of my life, I'm not in charge of yours" in schools and businesses around the world. Thank you Katie for changing our lives with your simple wisdom!



On May 20, 2014 angela wrote:

This is an overly simplistic view (even somewhat condescending but that's another story). The world and our areas of concern/influence (or "business") cannot be isolated into separate rooms of "yours," "mine," and "God's." We are all interdependent, therefore, there is also the category of "our" business. There is the possibility of either healthy or unhealthy stress and discomfort involved with working out "business," no matter who's business it is. Who would we be if we have no concern for others of the nature described above? Of course I am concerned for your happiness, for your health, and about whether you have a job. I have a responsibility to myself AND to those around me. Avoiding "our" stress would be a lonely life indeed. And very self-absorbed. For me, "our" stress can be understood and managed in a healthy way. And I will celebrate with you when you get a job! Or lose weight. Or survive cancer. I cannot tell myself "that is your problem" when it stresse  See full.

This is an overly simplistic view (even somewhat condescending but that's another story). The world and our areas of concern/influence (or "business") cannot be isolated into separate rooms of "yours," "mine," and "God's." We are all interdependent, therefore, there is also the category of "our" business. There is the possibility of either healthy or unhealthy stress and discomfort involved with working out "business," no matter who's business it is.

Who would we be if we have no concern for others of the nature described above? Of course I am concerned for your happiness, for your health, and about whether you have a job. I have a responsibility to myself AND to those around me. Avoiding "our" stress would be a lonely life indeed. And very self-absorbed. For me, "our" stress can be understood and managed in a healthy way. And I will celebrate with you when you get a job! Or lose weight. Or survive cancer. I cannot tell myself "that is your problem" when it stresses me, and then happily climb onboard with you when the coast is clear. But I can be healthy in my boundaries and in my acceptance/rejection of responsibility. 

To feel connected with others is a fundamental need, and both a great joy and stress. That is life. I prefer to live according to the Serenity Prayer than to burst out laughing at the absurdity of my concern for others "business."

~ namaste

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On May 20, 2014 abby wrote:

I was married to a man for 30 years and we were always in each others business instead of our own. I was so dependent that I needed to know what he was thinking, if he loved me, was he seeing someone else, was I thin enough for him, etc. He, on the other hand, was in the business of improving me - I should be thinner, I should do this to the kids, I should know what he wants, I should be there for him, etc. I woke up one day to this relationship that had no selves and had to leave. Each day I work on myself in order to be able to give and see and care the right way about the reality and others.



2 replies: Jo, David | Post Your Reply
On May 20, 2014 Jayanti wrote:

there is relative business and ultimate business, just as there is relative truth and ultimate truth. Focusing on 'my business'  allows me to bring more to 'your business' if required and appropriate, knowing and familiir with what is ultimately true in 'my business', which comes down to two basic things, there is this life here now, and the I knows absolutely nothing. This means we can flow between  the two poles on the continuum which says 'we are in this world but not of it' with love



On May 20, 2014 Annie wrote:

I left my own business and has caused me problems at home financially and emotionally, I have been giving it all to my my dad's business, I wish I could leave my dad's business but I can't , I been living his illness since we found out he had terminal cancer, I am his only daughter. someone has to take care of him in everyway, I am not 100% in my own business and I feel exhausted. it's a hard one. how do I cope with this? 

4 replies: David, Syd, Carlyn, Anne | Post Your Reply
On May 19, 2014 mugdha wrote:

 How simple it appears now to me the key of happiness when in reality I don't think it is clear enough. Keeping my own business then would mean to me to be free of all the worldly associations one has, otherwise, somehow or the other, other's businesses will certainly cross paths with mine or vice-versa.



On May 19, 2014 aj wrote:

 I am hearing the author perfectly.  In trying to understand and support a friend, I have left my own business.  My personal anchor  (with each person I aid) becomes less rooted in the sand.  
I am always late!  The only thing I hope not to be "late" for would be Jesus' call.  (This I pray.)  I have so many "irons in the fire".  Too many dependent elders.  Children needing hope, love, support, encouragement and someone to say,  "I believe in YOU"!  
Please pardon my tardiness.  (I would rather be late and present than not present at all).

Too, let me say, JC loves you and so do I.

PS. For complete understanding, I go to God.  He KNOWS you like no other.



On May 18, 2014 david doane wrote:

The article is simple, basic, and true.  AA calls it taking your own inventory rather than taking anyone else's.  To me it means to focus on myself, on what it is that I want, feel, like, don't like, etc, and on what I need to improve.  I stray from my own business every time I think and talk about what you need or what you're doing rather than think and talk about what I am experiencing.  One way I develop the awareness to avoid mentally living someone else's life is by getting told directly or implicitly  to mind my own business and getting rejected, which has helped me learn to stay in my own head and business rather than in someone else's head and business.  I've learned that I'm a stranger in anyone else's business, and an intruder except when explicitly invited, and the invitation is usually for a specific issue and a short period of time, and it's important to not overstay the welcome.  I want to be respectful of someone else's business and bo  See full.

The article is simple, basic, and true.  AA calls it taking your own inventory rather than taking anyone else's.  To me it means to focus on myself, on what it is that I want, feel, like, don't like, etc, and on what I need to improve.  I stray from my own business every time I think and talk about what you need or what you're doing rather than think and talk about what I am experiencing.  One way I develop the awareness to avoid mentally living someone else's life is by getting told directly or implicitly  to mind my own business and getting rejected, which has helped me learn to stay in my own head and business rather than in someone else's head and business.  I've learned that I'm a stranger in anyone else's business, and an intruder except when explicitly invited, and the invitation is usually for a specific issue and a short period of time, and it's important to not overstay the welcome.  I want to be respectful of someone else's business and boundaries.  I've learned that staying in my own business helps the other be more open in sharing their business, and we can meet. 

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On May 17, 2014 Abhishek wrote:

 In my experience, the three businesses merge and trickle into each other.  My business is often influenced, at a subtle level, by the business of others (i.e. their expectations of me, which part of myself I want to show to them, how I want to be perceived, what they think I must be doing etc) This is seriously tricky, because then it is your business disguised as mine in some strange way. It is not truly mine. As I was reflecting today morning, I discovered that truly my business (to use the language of this piece) was nothing exciting at all. It was just small things, normal things. And so much of my ambition, my desire to do things, to change the world, to influence, to experience were all driven by the other two businesses trickling into mine (and then seeming to be mine). Truly staying in my own business also means coming to terms with what that business truly is - and it may not be what you thought it is supposed to be, or what it was meant to be. It may just be some  See full.

 In my experience, the three businesses merge and trickle into each other. 

My business is often influenced, at a subtle level, by the business of others (i.e. their expectations of me, which part of myself I want to show to them, how I want to be perceived, what they think I must be doing etc)

This is seriously tricky, because then it is your business disguised as mine in some strange way. It is not truly mine.

As I was reflecting today morning, I discovered that truly my business (to use the language of this piece) was nothing exciting at all. It was just small things, normal things.

And so much of my ambition, my desire to do things, to change the world, to influence, to experience were all driven by the other two businesses trickling into mine (and then seeming to be mine).

Truly staying in my own business also means coming to terms with what that business truly is - and it may not be what you thought it is supposed to be, or what it was meant to be. It may just be some very very simple and small stuff.

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On May 16, 2014 rahul wrote:

This reminds me of the classic 'circle of influence' and 'circle of concern' which is always a superset of the first.  Our greatest power is always in our circle of influence, but we often discount the tremendous ripple power of authentically inhabiting that limiting circle.  As the Servicespace ecosystem often says, "Change yourself, change the world."



On May 16, 2014 Kristin Pedemonti wrote:

 Good advice. When we stay focused on Self (and not in a selfish way) we can become more aware of how our own attitude & actions impact others. We can be mindful of how we interact. this makes all the difference. As no one can read our minds, we cannot read anyone else's either. Staying in our own business helps prevent a lot of heartache and misunderstanding. For example, we might think that someone is not making time for us because they don't care when in reality they just may simply be overwhelmed with care taking responsibilities in their own lives. If all of us took care of our own business rather than getting into someone else's the world would be a more calm place & probably a lot more productive too :).  I think the awareness comes from asking the questions in the moment just as you've suggested. Who's life am I living and focused on right now? Also, when we try to live another's life we are taking away their potential power and empowerment. Best wishes every  See full.

 Good advice. When we stay focused on Self (and not in a selfish way) we can become more aware of how our own attitude & actions impact others. We can be mindful of how we interact. this makes all the difference. As no one can read our minds, we cannot read anyone else's either. Staying in our own business helps prevent a lot of heartache and misunderstanding. For example, we might think that someone is not making time for us because they don't care when in reality they just may simply be overwhelmed with care taking responsibilities in their own lives. If all of us took care of our own business rather than getting into someone else's the world would be a more calm place & probably a lot more productive too :).  I think the awareness comes from asking the questions in the moment just as you've suggested. Who's life am I living and focused on right now? Also, when we try to live another's life we are taking away their potential power and empowerment. Best wishes everyone for living YOUR life. :) HUG

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