Monday, August 31, 2015

Of Barbecues and Circuses -

There's a Polish proverb with the catch-line becoming a popular phrase:

Several years ago I had a therapist tell me that she and her husband (second marriages for both with children) decided they would not get involved in each other's ex or children issues. When one would bring up their ex or children from their first marriage, they would say, "Not my barbecue" as a way of saying, Keep me out of this, not my issue, not my problem, not necessary, keep the peace.

Well, Scott and I have tried our best to be involved in each other's lives - which includes children, and when issues in today's world come up, we work through things together. Yet when issues are brought up from the past, that need to be dealt with today, the "Not my barbecue" phrase becomes relevant. It's a reminder to not put our noses, and opinions, where they don't belong.

I've adopted that phrase for many areas of my life. My friend, Marv, likes to call me "Mother Russia," because it always seems, to him, that I'm caring for someone or something, or worrying about someone or something, or getting in to the fix-it mode. And, I probably do, but over the years I've learned when to not solve the world's problems, and this is where "Not my barbecue" comes in handy.

It's a great phrase for really stepping back and acknowledging I have no reason to be involved, to involve myself, or to try and work through someone else's issues.

Child late for dinner? Not my barbecue - then I don't have to get upset, ask questions, worry. They just are late, their issue, not mine.

Student begging to be added to a class he/she was too late in registering for? Not my barbecue - I can't change the lateness or the lack of course offerings.

Neighbor who is just a little too needy and seems to need to know everything? Not my barbecue - I can do what I can do, but part of the issue is her need to be needed, not mine.

Colleague who is always pissy and whiny and wants to pull me into issues? Not my barbecue - I'll stay in the mood I want to be in, not buy in to her's.

Prices at the restaurant higher than usual, and someone wants me to complain? Not my barbecue - I'm fine, it's you who's bugged.

Friend who says, "You really should . . ." meaning, "Could you do this for me?" Not my barbecue - I'll support you, but I'm not getting involved.

I have the urge to stick my nose where it doesn't belong? Not my barbecue - steer clear.

Deep desire to tell my adult children how they should behave, what they should be doing, impart wisdom, when not asked? Not my barbecue - I reared them to be responsible adults, let them be.

It is awesome to have this "cop out" in my "responsible for myself" tool box. I typically use this phrase to myself, so I don't get pulled in to someone else's nonsense, and Scott has seen this phrase in action - arms bent at the elbow, hands out to my side with palms facing back, a flip of the hands forward, with a nod of the head, repeating - "Not my barbecue," is so freeing and empowering. I give myself the permission to walk away, to step back, not get involved, not put my nose where it shouldn't be, not walk into a situation where I don't belong, and not to get emotionally invested in something that is of little or no consequence to me.

"Not my barbecue," she says, boldly, bravely, and then she walks away.

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