Privacy is crucial to most, if not all, people. We value personal space and get offended when others, unless given permission, intrude into our private affairs. Meddling into other people’s lives, in most circumstances, is a sign of disrespect, and if you’re one of those people doing this constantly, consider following these ways to help break the habit.
1. Keep yourself occupied.
Sometimes, people encroach on other people’s lives simply because they have nothing to do with their own. They are either bored or in search of something to fill their time. If you find yourself belonging to this camp, then try to keep yourself occupied. If you’re unemployed, find a job. If you’re bored, play a game, or work out. If you’re just looking for entertainment, then watch a movie or a reality show. Any activity is all right so long as it gets your mind away from interfering with the lives of others.
2. Focus on self-improvement.
Perhaps better than just keeping yourself occupied is focusing on self-improvement. Instead of telling other people how they can improve their lives, just focus on improving your own. Your intentions might be in the right place, but if people already show their distaste for your constant intervention, then just let yourself follow your own advice. Instead of constantly telling Gwen how she should spend her money, invest yours in a profitable venture, or instead of pestering Ben to stop wasting his time playing video games, just focus on using yours to learn a skill or meet new people.
3. Ask permission before you intervene.
There are times when it is acceptable to interfere with another person’s life, especially if the intention is to help that person or to prevent him/her from doing something ridiculous. However, regardless of your intent, you still have to ask for permission before you intervene. Before giving your opinion or advice, be courteous enough to ask the other person if it would be all right with him/her if you express your thoughts. This would communicate a clear message to the other person that you respect his/her privacy and that you simply wish to offer wisdom or a friendly reminder because you care for him/her.
4. Don’t push it.
Now, don’t make the permission you got as an excuse to keep on meddling despite the other person’s steadfast refusal to follow your advice or heed your opinion. You should know when to stop insisting. If Mike really doesn’t want to leave his cheating girlfriend, then there’s a point where you have to stop meddling with his decision. You’ve already done your part, and whether or not Mike will have a change of heart is now entirely up to him. Again, say what you must, but don’t push it.
5. Stir away from gossip.
Gossip is a major driving force on why people intrude on others’ lives. They get intrigued about others’ affairs, and the knowledge they acquire, may they be true or false, incentivize them to get involved and trespass on one’s personal space. However, you yourself wouldn’t want people talking behind your back and violating your privacy, so try to stir away from gossip. Doing this will not only help you stop making unsolicited intrusions, but it will also help you grow into a more ethically and morally upstanding person.
6. Respect boundaries.
There exists a wall between every person, and you shouldn’t just blow other’s up or force your way in. This wall always has to be respected. It is only when the other person opens the gate that you may enter. After all, you yourself have such a wall protecting your kingdom of secrets, beliefs, and interests, and surely, you do not want anyone to arbitrarily breach your wall and just waltz on your domain.
ALSO READ: 6 Ways to be Respectful of Others
7. Be sensitive.
There are moments when people do something wrong because they do not realize that what they’re doing is wrong. The same can be true when people invade other’s lives. The former might be oblivious of the fact that he/she is offending the latter already; that’s why we have to be sensitive enough to tell if we’re already acting out of line. We have to constantly reflect and empathize for us to develop a level of sensitivity that will tell us when we’re already overbearing and should thus step back.
8. Place a daily reminder.
If meddling with other people’s lives has already become your habit, then perhaps a more unconventional method needs to be employed. Try to stick a note on your fridge, or use a wallpaper on your phone that says “Respect boundaries,” “You shall not pass,” or any other statement or symbol that will constantly remind you not to infringe on other’s lives. Doing this might seem silly, but extreme habits call for extreme measures.
9. Keep your thoughts to yourself.
The solution you are looking for might just be as inconspicuous as silence itself. Often, it is when we open our mouths that the meddling starts. We speak when we should just watch, or we criticize when we should just spectate. Of course, there are instances where we should voice our concerns out, but there are also situations where it is best if we just keep our thoughts to ourselves. Sometimes, doing nothing is all that is needed.
10. Always think before you act.
Apart from using our words, we likewise interfere with other people’s affairs through our acts. And so, we should always think before we act. For instance, before you throw away John’s toy collection in the hopes that it will help him grow up, think about how such an act will upset John and infringe upon his choices first. Thinking before acting will prevent us from making unnecessary and unsolicited interventions as well as help us avoid the consequences of reckless and impulsive decision-making.
We should always give due respect to other people’s privacy and choices. Their lives are theirs to live, and we should not compel them to live their lives the way we want them to. You can express your concern and give your thoughts, but you should always have respect and know the limits.