This is an interesting topic which has been popping up in my life over the past year. I once worked with a woman who was very concerned with our coworkers. Their uniforms, schedules, hair styles, whatever she felt was not in line with policy. I would frequently tell her, “Stay in your own lane.” Essentially telling her to mind her business. I cannot imagine the stress she felt from carrying these concerns. I felt they weren’t my employees, so they were not my concern.
There are many situations similar to this one which fall into the same category. We do not have to concern ourselves with most actions of other people. HOWEVER, there are times when it should be expected and other times when it is necessary. These are important boundaries I feel we all need to define for ourselves.
Personally, I would never walk pass someone being mugged. This falls into the “doing the right thing” category. I recognize I live in a society with laws, customs, and expectations. If I see a moral injustice I will not stay quiet. I choose to be a positive contributing member of society. Granted this is my personal definition and one I am comfortable with. There are many times others do not feel the same way.
One night, a woman was one the side of the road trying to wave down help. I was alone and I did not pull over. I did call 911 and report the incident. Maybe the woman was pulling a scam, but maybe she needed help. Not my personal problem however I was not going to just leave her there either. In this circumstance I opted to be a decent person without endangering myself.
Another time I do not stay in my own lane is with family. My family is well connected. We have and will always voice our opinions to one another. That is just how we work. I see it as a mastermind connection. The bringing together of multiple people to provide input and support. Now, none of us are obligated to agree with the opinions of our family members. It is not a matter of telling someone what to do, it is more a sharing of personal experiences and points we may not have thought of on our own.
A former partner of mine did not grow up with a family like mine. His family members keep things to themselves or among certain members at all times. I could not wrap my head around not sharing personal opinions and concerns. Personally, I interpreted the silence as a means of not caring. It baffled me because my family expresses their concerns verbally.
I cannot imagine not telling my children what I think about their choices. Prior to writing this post I asked my 13 year old daughter if she knew I would always voice my thoughts about her. She confirmed accepting it is the way our family communicates. I did remind her I will only offer my opinions, but ultimately it is her life to live.
As previously mentioned, this is a personal boundary no one can set for us. I am comfortable with my personal boundaries and observation of my own lane. I will say something if I see a retail worker being verbally harassed. I will call 911 if your house is on fire, but I will not get to know my neighbors. I will step up for social injustices such as racism. I will pay attention to my employees, but never my coworkers. Above all else I will always voice my thoughts, opinions, and concerns to my children regardless of how old they are. This is how I chose to be a good mother, family member, and a positive contributing member of society.
The Four Agreements
1) Be impeccable with your word.
2) Don’t take anything personally.
3) Don’t make assumptions.
4) Always do your best.― don Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom