Too often I have allowed myself to become distracted by other people’s causes, concerns, issues, problems, and agendas. Distracted. I don’t mean I don’t know how to say “no” and end up agreeing to a bunch of obligations I don’t want. It’s more that I start worrying, getting concerned, and wondering if I should help or do something. Getting sucked in. It’s about feeling. I don’t think it’s all bad; empathy has its place and it’s my strong suit. However, I began to see how doing this affected me negatively, scattered my energies. Why did I always make someone else’s concern my concern? I’ve mentioned this before, but I think it has to do with both an innate tendency of my own and being groomed from a very young age to take on concerns I had no business taking on. It’s like a lot of things: the ball gets rolling by somebody else when you’re little and eventually you take it on yourself.
It’s too easy to move through life the way you always have. Habits and ways of being gather momentum with each passing year. Especially when they’re unconscious. I’m very interested in pulling these unconscious levels up to the conscious surface. Once I become aware of a habit, which happens over time, almost never in one smooth move (“Oh, I get it now. I sure won’t do THAT anymore”), I start paying more attention when relevant incidents crop up. Now when I’m considering involving myself in someone else’s affairs, I pull back and ask myself concrete questions like:
- Do I care about this?
- Where should my focus be now?
- Do I need any more problems?
- Is this my concern?
- What’s good for me?
These questions, not a one of them, come to me naturally. I had to think them up. They’re a tool, a tactic I can use to redirect myself. It might end up that I DO care and I DO want to make whatever it is my problem, but I have to say, between you, me and the lamppost, generally when I’m moved to ask these questions, they have a way of stopping me from flying off after something I really shouldn’t.