Improve Your Relationships by minding your own business

Sep 26, 2022

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When we’re mentally in someone else’s business, or in God’s business, we’re not present in our own lives. And we’re taking on an incredible amount of stress and accountability. Along with personal overwhelm, this can create strain and negatively affect our relationships.

But as physicians, it’s our very job to help people. Add to that the normal relationships of being a friend, child, parent, spouse or colleague… and the number of people for whom we have some measure of responsibility can be pretty high. So how can we know when we’ve moved out of healthy boundaries and into other people’s business? In this episode, I give you several examples to identify being in other people’s business, along with suggestions for how to move back into healthier boundaries. It’s not only personally freeing but you can actually improve your relationships by minding your own business. 

“What I’ve discovered is that most of the time, we’re often in other people’s business… We’re disconnected from ourselves because no one’s home. No one’s minding our own business… So this can be a practice where you just keep coming back to yourself... What’s my business here?”  – Dr. Sara Dill

What You’ll Learn

  • 3 types of business
  • Examples of being in someone’s business
  • Define your own business
  • Offering advice without undue responsibility
  • Taking our own advice
  • Coming back to yourself

Contact Info and Recommended Resources

Byron Katie: The Work

Connect with Sara Dill, MD, The Doctor’s Coach


Dr. Sara Dill: I’m Dr. Sara Dill, and this is the Stress-Less Physician podcast, Episode Number 33. Welcome to the Stress-Less Physician podcast, I’m your host, Dr. Sara Dill, MD. Using my unique combination of coaching and mindfulness tools, I will teach you practical ways to reduce your stress level, feel happier at work and create a better balance between your medical career and personal life. If you are a busy practicing physician who wants to design a life and medical career that feel good to you, you are in the right place.

Everyone, welcome back to the podcast. So good to talk to you. I am in Santa Barbara today. And we are in the middle of a little heatwave here. And for anyone who doesn’t live in coastal California, coastal California is typically not that warm. Everyone who comes to visit is always sort of surprised at how cold it is, especially in the summertime, because it’s always a little cooler at night. And typically, here in Santa Barbara on the central coast, it’s usually in the 60s or 70s. That’s pretty normal for summer, and even sometimes in the winter on a warm day. We rarely get into the 80s. We’re actually at 100 degrees right now, which is almost unheard of.

So, I know many of you live in much hotter climates, places with humidity as well. And I try not to complain. My mom lives in Sacramento, where they’re often in the triple digits. But right now, I’m just feeling a little hot. So, I thought I’d share my experience. I do always like to remind myself that weather is just a circumstance, right, meaning it’s neutral. I have a lot of thoughts about it. Sometimes it’s just interesting to notice how many opinions I have about the weather.

I’m sort of like Goldilocks, sometimes it’s too hot, it’s too cold, it’s too windy. It’s not windy enough, I like a little breeze. I often just noticed that my mind is somewhat exhausting. So, I try not to take it too seriously, which is what I talked about a couple podcast episodes ago, on how to practice not really listening to my mind. But right now, it’s a little bit loud. And I hope you can’t hear the air conditioner as it runs. Usually, I like it a little quieter.

So anyway, that is a long intro to today’s podcast episode. And today I wanted to talk to you about a tool. I think I’ve mentioned it before, when I talked about Byron Katie, called the “Three Kinds of Business”. And basically, I think it’s one of the most important self-coaching tools and coaching tools that I use. And applying this to your life will immediately improve any relationship you have with anyone. It also improves my work life on a daily basis. Because of course, a lot of my work is based on relationships with patients and relationships with colleagues, even my relationship with medicine, and my employers and all sorts of things, right relationships are really critical.

So, what I want to talk to you about is staying in your own business, right? It’s sort of like minding your own business, or I think another phrase we use is staying in our own lane. I will say that in general, as physicians, we’re often not very good about minding our own business or staying in our own lane, or noticing if we’re in our own business or if we’re in other people’s business. And so let me just start by sort of defining what I’m talking about.

And so Byron Katie has this idea, this principle about noticing whose business are you in? It’s a great question, especially if you’re feeling stressed, if you are feeling hurt, anxious, afraid, tense any of that, just start by asking whose business am I in right now? Byron Katie says there are only three kinds of business in the universe: mine, yours and God’s. For her, she describes the word God as meaning reality. So things that happen. So anything that’s out of my control, your control and everyone else’s control. That’s what she’s referring to when she says God’s business.

She says, “much of our stress comes from mentally living out of our own business,” right? When we think they should get a job, this person should be happy. She should be on time. He should take better care of himself. My patients should do what I tell them.” Then we’re in other people’s business. If we’re worried about the heat or earthquakes war, whether, when I’m going to die, that’s being in God’s business, that’s being in sort of great things that are out of our control or other people’s control.

And she says that if we find that we’re mentally in your business, or God’s business, the effect for us is separation. And when we are separated, then we often feel stress, tense, anxiety, right? We feel all these negative emotions. Because if someone else is living their life, and I’m also over there in your life, there’s no one over here minding the store, minding our own business, right? We’re both over there. So, when we’re mentally in other people’s business, we’re not present in our own life, in our own business. We’re separate from ourselves, and we’re often not even aware of it.

So again, the three kinds of business are: my business, your business, everyone else’s business, and then God’s business, God’s business being reality, right? Things that are happening that are outside of human control, mine and other people. So you might notice, right? How often are you in someone else’s business mentally? At work, this happens a lot, I think, where we often think as physicians that we know what our patients should do, right, but this actually creates a lot of stress. And then especially if we hold ourselves accountable for whether patients get better, whether they do what we tell them to do, all of that is outside of our own control.

I like to think about my job as a physician is to be a consultant and to provide the best medical advice based on current literature. And based on my appreciation of the patient in front of me; what they are interested in doing and able to do, what they’ve told me they want to do, and then I do my best to help them and, in the end, it’s up to them, whether they follow through or whether they don’t. That would be not being in their business, right, when I think they should have done what I told them.

Again, I feel maybe resentment, I feel disconnected, that’s going to create stress, it’s going to take away some of the joy of practicing medicine, versus if I realize, oh, I’m not in my own business. My business is what I recommend. My business is making sure I’m up to date on the literature, my business is to perhaps decide whether I want to see someone who’s late or not, my business is what I decide to do. It’s what I say and do. It’s my own reactions.

The other thing about this is that we don’t have that much control over other people. So we’re in other people’s business, even if it’s motivated by love, by wanting someone to be happier, or be in better health, to have a good outcome. Whether we’re talking about loved ones, or family or friends or partners, or spouses or colleagues or patients, even if it’s motivated by love, we don’t have the ability to live someone else’s life or them. And in fact, sometimes to think that we know what’s better for anyone else, can be rather—a little bit arrogant. Maybe we don’t know, how does that feel? I sometimes don’t even know what’s right for me. I think I do. And then I get a result and I’m like, “Oh, that wasn’t really what I saw coming.”

So, you can ask, do I know what’s right for me? Can that be your only business? Can you work with that before you try to solve problems for other people? Of course, patients come to us with problems. But can we offer them our best advice or best guidance, without making it our responsibility to make sure they follow through, without making it our responsibility to be in their business? And I find that I’m actually a better doctor, when I stay in my business. When I’m able to hear what people are asking me for, when I’m able to hear what they want from me, and when I’m not making their decisions mean anything about me, I’m not taking it personally.

So again, this is a question that I would just check in with yourself about. So maybe develop the habit, especially if you’re feeling stressed, if you’re feeling anxious, if you’re afraid, just notice, whose business am I in? Maybe you’re worrying about the state of the world, right? That would be God’s business. Whatever you want to call it, reality’s business, the universe’s business. Maybe you are worrying about your partner’s health, right? Maybe you’re having thoughts that they aren’t taking care of themselves the way they should be. You might notice, that’s their business.

And you might notice how you show up. When we think we know what’s right for other people, we often then come across as sort of bossy, or know it all. And it often doesn’t create the kind of relationship that we want. And it also doesn’t tend to allow us to perhaps have a conversation with someone where we might share with them our fear or our worry about their state of health. That might be a very different conversation when you’re coming at it with your own concerns, rather than thinking that we know what’s right for them.

So notice, how often are you living in other people’s business? For a lot of us, it’s most of the time. And is it creating the relationships that you want? What would it look like to just stay in your own business, to just stay in what’s under your control? Often when we have ideas about what other people should be doing, the way to start to look at that is to notice, am I doing that? Am I following my own advice? Can I take the advice I’m offering to him or her and apply it to my life?

Often the feedback I get from clients, and even when I started doing this is the idea of like, well, then “Am I just supposed to allow right patients to say what they say and do what they do?” Yes. They do anyway, they’re adults. Or if the question is like, “Well, Am I just supposed to not say anything if my neighbor isn’t taking care of their house, or their lawn?” Maybe. If you have a guidance in your neighborhood about certain standards, then you might have a venue to say something. But you could notice, are you upset about it? What are you making it mean? You can always make requests. But notice, whose business are you in? Whose business are you trying to live? Is your house been maintained appropriately? Is your yard up to the standards that you’re trying to hold other people to? Can we just take our own advice first and notice how much stress we have when we’re trying to live other people’s lives for them, when we think we know what’s right for them. And notice how disconnected we get. And notice how those relationships don’t thrive.

Even if we think we’re pretending not to be critical or come across as very non-critical, other people can feel it, when we think we know what’s right for them. And most of us don’t like it, right? We get defensive, we sort of attack back. And so what would it be like to genuinely just take responsibility for yourself, for your own life, your own choices. And notice when you are in other adults’ business, right?

Again, it’s a little different if you have children, if you have employees, if you have people for whom you can set some guidelines. But in general, staying in your own business, not drifting over into other people’s business. That practice alone will transform almost every area of your life. We have enough business when we’re just taking care of ourselves. That’s enough.

And as physicians, again, I think we often feel this sense of responsibility to take care of everyone, to offer advice to everyone, to fix everyone around us. So just start noticing when we’re giving uninvited advice, unsolicited advice, or we’re offering our opinion about something, even if it’s just in our own mind, even if it’s silently. Yes, if a patient comes to you and asks you, what do you think I should do? How can I get better? By all means, offer the advice. But notice if you have a lot of extra thoughts about how they should be doing it, or how they’re doing it wrong, or anything like that.

So, are you able to be an effective physician and still stay in your own business. Notice when you’re in your patient’s business, or your colleagues’ business or other people’s business. What I’ve discovered is that most of the time, we’re often in other people’s business. And then again, we’re disconnected from ourselves because no one’s home. No one’s minding our own business. So, this can be a practice, where you just keep coming back to yourself, what’s my business here?

So, if you’re wanting someone else to, say, stop yelling, are you yelling? Maybe your business is to not yell? Maybe your business is to remove yourself. If there’s yelling, present, right? It doesn’t mean you just put up with anything and everything. It’s taking responsibility for how you show up, it’s taking responsibility for your actions, for what you say, for what you don’t say, for what you do, for what you don’t do. That’s where we have control. We don’t have control in other people’s business, we don’t have control in a lot of areas of God’s business, right? The universe’s business.

If you’re worried about global warming, what is something that you can do in your life? Right to take action on that, again, it doesn’t make you passive, I actually find that it makes me way more involved and connected, when I then make it relevant for what is available to me to do? If this is something that I’m concerned about.

So, test this out. See what you think, again, just notice, what if there are only three kinds of business in the universe, my business, your business or everyone else’s business? And then the universes’ business or God’s business, right? Weather, war, earthquakes, etc. What if life is a lot more simple? What if you just keep asking, am I in their business? Did they ask me? Can I take that advice? What’s my business here? Let me stay in my business.

I often remind myself, “not my business.” And I mean it in a gentle, kind, compassionate way. I’m available to help I make that known. Let me know if you want any advice. Let me know if you want my help. I’m happy to how can I help? And if you don’t need my help, that’s fine, too. You’ll notice you’re way more connected, rather than less. Test it out. See what you think I’d love to hear back from you. Is this working? Is this not working? Do you like this idea? Do you not like this idea? Let me know. I welcome any and all feedback. Have a wonderful week, and I will talk to you soon. Bye.

If you are a busy practicing physician, ready to start feeling less stressed, enjoy work more and learn how to create a more balanced and sustainable medical practice and life, sign up for a consult call with me at, that’s It would be my privilege and pleasure to work with you.

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