MYOBW - Daily Love with Mastin Kipp


This past week, one of my adult daughters relayed a story to me where she was experiencing tons of angst. In brief, two women that she works with have incredible tension between them, and one of these women happens to be her boss. As one of their colleagues, she relayed to me that she felt like she was caught in the middle—as the only one who could translate one to the other and help them see each other’s sides.

The tension comes from each person in the situation being triggered by another’s historical issues. As the axiom goes: if its hysterical, it’s historical. My daughter falls into the category here of also being one that is immensely triggered. She feels the need to mediate and help them patch things up—as though it were her obligation—though truly, the tension between her colleagues is none of her business. Its not that my daughter is reactionary—far from it. In fact, there are times when getting a reaction out of her is almost impossible. But, here is where I can understand her need to be so involved. When she was very young, her father and I had many problems. As a bright and sensitive child, she learned to insert herself into our arguments to diffuse the situation and to relieve the tension for her and her little sister—and it worked for a while, until we finally parted. This pattern of inserting herself as a way to diffuse a situation is quite a noble idea, but it is an outdated behavior that is no longer necessary for her (or anyone!). In many (if not most) instances, other people’s arguments, other people’s tensions, are exactly that—they belong to other people.

As empathetic and empathic people, we have a tendency and a desire to notice a problem in the world and direct our energy toward mending it. Some of these problems can actually be mended and would benefit from our interjections. Doing things like doing community service, donating to Green Peace or OxFam (or whatever non-profit you support), anonymously helping families who are in dire conditions—these situations are worth our time. But inserting ourselves into the drama of others because the tension makes us uncomfortable? Not our business.

These women at my daughter’s work have been placed together for a reason. Since I am not in the thick of it, I cannot thoroughly see what the issue is. But, knowing my 30-year-old daughter who has a helpful spirit, I know what the issue is: she wants to be more comfortable in their group dynamic and she believes that peacefully interjecting herself will do this. The fact of the matter is this: there is nothing she can do or say to make things better. This is their issue to resolve.

What IS her issue to resolve is her need to fix things—herself and other people, namely. Most often, sitting with the discomfort can tell us things about ourselves and about other people. What would happen if we denied the urge to get into the middle of situations where we are not needed? For one, we would likely have more time on our hands! But really, we’d notice serious discomfort and if we are seeking truth, we would look at it as an opportunity to learn something about how we interact with people and situations and how we could make our lives easier.

My advice to my daughter was simple: next time, MYOB (mind your own beeswax). Let adults be adults, even if they aren’t ‘being adults’. Life is short. And while we hope that everyone will see this truth and be able to know a big thing from a small thing, we aren’t able to teach everyone this—we have a hard time learning it ourselves! I urge you this week—keep your gaze inward, and let your glances into the business of others’ lives short and sweet. We all deserve the dignity to work out our own destinies.

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Trinka is a counselor and has run her private practice in Los Angeles for 20 years. She was Mastin’s personal therapist for many years. Check out her website here.