January 15, 2015

Concerned and Curious: Butt In or Out?

"Woman with magnifying glass"
by K Whiteford
I'm a curious person and I feel concern for others. Being curious and concerned, I sometimes want to hear people's woes, maybe with too many details. I feel that expressing troubles will help, but that isn't always the case. Sometimes I need to back off for various reasons. Here are some reasons for getting involved or staying out of someone else's business:

Butting In

When someone shares information, respect their wishes as much as you can. Only relate what they say to you if you need to.

1. Others need confidantes to share their burdens, so they can vent or work out their frustrations. We can be willing to "mourn with those who mourn; yea, and comfort those who stand in need of comfort" (Alma 18:9).

2. We are in a position to give someone the help they need, whether it be as a professional, religious leader, family member, or friend.

3. The Spirit, or gut, tells us to get involved, even with complete strangers.

Butting Out

Being concerned and curious, it hurts to be left out and I hate it sometimes, but sometimes that person has their reasons to maintain their privacy. Often the reason for not sharing isn't personal.You can always pray for that person and say you are available to talk. Sometimes, all you need to know are generalities anyway.

1. Respect when someone asks you to butt out, unless you know you should intervene for safety or legal reasons.

2. Often people won't share for legal or safety reasons. They are bound to confidentiality. In this case, they can only share with clergy, coworkers, or counselors.

3. Many times a couple shouldn't vent their problems to others. It only creates distrust in their relationship. However, there are exceptions in the case of abuse and mental health.

4. Butt out if it's too hard on your mental health. At times I can only handle so much of other people's problems. I need to rejuvenate or focus on the positive. All I can do for a person is pray for them and leave it in the Lord's hands.

5. Sometimes a person needs to focus on something positive instead of sharing their trials with everyone.

These reasons should help guide you and me about whether or not to butt into someone else's business. It's all a balancing act.