mind your own business?
We want to help others, it is a primaeval urge, to care and protect, to help and carry the burdens of those who we love. When a child learns to ride a bike, we support them as they find their balance, firmly at first and then with progressively lighter touches, until we are just there as an invisible shield to catch them if they fall. However once they have a little confidence, it is in their best interests for you to mind your own business, to let them fall and learn that just because they do fall it is not a reason not to get on your bike again. Some children may return for little cry, and when they do you comfort them until they are ready to return to their own business of riding a bike, that is the role of the parent, to voluntarily mind their own business despite your own compulsion to help and guide. They have to show patience and wait for their child to need them, rather than fulfilling their own wants and rushing to protect them, being able to make yourself irrelevant over the long run and produce independent, autonomous human beings is the most noble endeavour a parent can undertake.
It is a example that is worthwhile for all of us to learn from, to help someone is a wonderful thing, it appeals to an inner need and desire that is in all of us. It makes us feel good and of relevance, that we are bringing something of worth to our communities, it is also a dangerous drug, it is an addictive feeling helping people. Though when you seek that feeling out, you risk it being unwelcome or worse counter-productive. Unasked for advice can feel like criticism or even worse moaning, the learning process is a relationship, where teachers take the responsibility for the students understanding, and the students have to take the responsibility of listening. It cannot be forced or impose as these responsibilities are internal and need to come from an individual's sense of purpose. A student needs to want to understand something, to be interested and prepared to delay gratification, to work for better position, they are trading time for knowledge and understanding, and if you are asking someone to make that trade, you have to make a trade as well, you have to give up your ego, your desire to feel good about feeling wise, and instead ask how can I best serve my student.
That is a difficult thing to do, when we find something self-evidently true, it is hard not to believe it is true and even harder to believe they could be positively false for someone else, especially when the whole of society agrees with us. That is why am picking on teachers and myself, to say that learning is good seems to me to be true, and I cannot think of a single politician, parent or responsible adult who would disagree, and yet, it is also true that somehow we have a significant minority of children who by their actions or our failures, do not want to learn, the idea does not seem good to them. Does that mean they are just wrong? Is the best thing to ignore their opinions and judgements? Or do you instead respect them, and take on the responsibility of how you can best serve your student.
Sometimes you do just have to decide to mind your own business, let them make choices about their own lives, give them control rather than take more and more away. If they cannot take on the responsibility of learning, you might have to give them different responsibilities that are more suited to them, whether that is physical, emotional or caring, through practising crafts, purposeful exercise, social caring or animal welfare, with the option to return to learning activities later when they decide. The only thing stopping us from this more flexible approach to the production of healthy adults, is the judgement that just because something is good for you in the long run, it is good for you at every point in your life, we have to have the humility to admit we can be wrong and that only individuals can give leadership to their own lives, and that is the single most important lesson that anyone can learn, and is worth sacrificing the teaching of every other lesson to this single lesson.
It is the lesson that underpins the entire process of learning, and like the child learning to ride the bike, you have to let go in the end and allow them fall. It is in the falling that the lesson is actually learnt, the child has to realise that failing is part of the learning process, and that we experience little bumps and scrapes in the present moment for a happier future. That is what deferred gratification is, the willingness to sacrifice pleasures in the moment for a better position in the future. Those who read novels for fun today, do so because your five year old self learnt to read, and almost every single one of them did so because they loved stories not because they were told to. And if you do not read for fun, that is not a moral failing, you are not a bad person, it was because you did not learn to read out of a love of stories, you were forced, someone did not mind their own business until you are ready, you had bad teachers and they have a habit of lingering at the edge of your mind.
The way to banishing them for good, is to decide to mind your own business because when you do you reject that old habit of thinking, that you should do things rather than deciding to do them. That you act out of your own self-interest rather than living up to the expectations of others. You stop judging other people and by doing so you stop judging yourself. You give yourself the freedom to fail, to be wrong, to be different, to have different opinions and act in the manner of your own choosing. You have that freedom because you have given it to everybody else, by minding your own business, you do not mind other people's business being theirs, and your business becomes entirely yours, and there is a tremendous liberation in that.
You can turn your entire awareness and presence towards those things that bring you joy, that sparks your interest, you can follow any path without worrying about how it will look and free from judgement. You get to stop learning and instead become fascinated and absorbed in a subject, learning will happen but only as a side product of passion, and it will be effortless, it might still be hard but hard work is not the enemy, work that lacks a purpose is the problem, and learning that is in alignment with your purposes is the solution.
And it is only when you free yourself from others judgements, from what you should do and give yourself the freedom to be exactly who you choose to be that you are able to act in alignment with your true nature. We can only believe that is true when we give others the same freedom of action, the gift of allowing them to be and act as individual's on their own journey, as we can only really believe that others act and think in the same way as us. It is one of our blind spots, however we think, we think others think the same as us, even if intellectually we know that other people think differently. We might even remember ourselves thinking differently, but in the current moment it is almost impossible for the mind to believe it. The mind can only deal with a world where other people think the same as us, it is a simplifying assumption that the mind makes, if I act other people will react in the same way as me, if it did not, the world would be too complicated for you to act with confidence, we would be paralysed by indecision.
It mean that effectively the world is a mirror, when you change how you think, everyone else changes as well and then you act differently towards others, you act as if they are different. The world reflects who we are, when we are fearful the people and the world are frightening, when we are full of love so is the world. We see ourselves in that mirror, everyone else is a reflection of who we are and our thoughts, so when we stop judging, we believe that others have stop judging us. When we treat people as free independent people with their own wants, needs and desires, we become free, and when we mind our own business, our business becomes our own.