That which you have the power to control, impact, and change.
Stephen Covey teaches a concept that has significantly impacted my family: Circles of Influence and Circles of Concern. In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, he shares that there is a slew of ideas, events, and people we get exposed to daily: the neighbors are getting a divorce, there are starving children in Africa, some politician is having an affair.
If we’re exposed to these issues and are
concerned about them, then they lie within our Circle of Concern. The question is: can we do anything about them? Do we have the power to effect their outcomes? Are these areas where we choose to exercise the power available to us?
Also in my Circle of Concern is the diet I eat. Being the family chef, I exert a tremendous amount of power over which groceries I buy, what gets served at the table, and what I choose to eat. Accordingly, in addition to falling into the Circle of Concern, my diet also falls within my Circle of Influence.
The Circle of Influence includes everything in the Circle of Concern over which I have control to affect change, such as my mood, what charities I support, or how I vote in an election.
Stephen Covey says that when I focus my energy on affairs of the world that I cannot influence, my Circle of Concern Circle expands, while my Circle of Influence shrinks, as I only have so much energy to spend. It’s also true that the more I invest in my Circle of Influence, the more it expands, and the more effective I am in the world. So, do I want to be a concerned citizen or an influential one?
When we’re hanging around that part of our Circle of Concern over which we have no influence, we tend to feel angry, sad, or frustrated. Byron Katie says that’s because we’re mulling about in others’ Business and have abandoned our own. We become victims of our concern about what we can’t control.
Stepping into other people’s Business can be like stepping in gum: we don’t always know we’ve done it right away, but before long, we find ourselves stuck in one place, unable to progress forward. We tend to think that anything we care about or that affects us is “our Business,” but in terms of Inquiry, Business includes only those things over which you have immediate control and the power to affect change. In other words, your Business is what lies in your Circle of Influence. Let’s see if Ralph’s concern over his neighbor’s divorce lies there as well:
Ralph: They’re fighting all the time, and the kids are distressed about losing their family. It’s so sad because the guy is a great husband and father. He’s trying so hard to be there for the kids. He didn’t even want the divorce in the first place! She’s being rash in leaving him.
To Ralph, this situation feels like his Business because these are his neighbors, they’re in his community, and he cares about the kids and their future. The reality is that he’s not the one who has to live with this marriage day in and day out. He doesn’t know all the information, and he’s not the one who decides to stay or go at the end of the day. He’s entirely out of his Business and in trying to hold up his neighbors’ marriage, he’s divorced himself from his Circle of Influence entirely.
Chana: You believe that your neighbor shouldn’t leave her husband.
Chana: Can you absolutely know that it’s true that she shouldn’t leave him?
Ralph: Not absolutely.
Chana: And how do you feel when you believe the thought?
Ralph: Frustrated, angry.
Chana: What else?
Ralph: I feel lonely. Kind of abandoned. Left out.
Chana: What sensations arise in your body when you believe she shouldn’t leave her husband?
Ralph: My body gets tight, I lose focus, and I want to shut down.
Chana: How do you treat yourself when you believe the thought?
Ralph: I ignore myself. My needs don’t matter so much.
Chana: So you leave yourself ?
Chana: And how do you treat your neighbors when you believe the thought?
Ralph: I pretty much ignore the wife. So I guess I leave her too. And the husband? I pity him, the poor guy.
Chana: How do you think he feels about your pity?
Ralph: I think he gets even sadder. It’s like his life is hopeless. Huh…. I didn’t realize that.
Chana: So whose Businessare you in when you believe that she shouldn’t leave him?
Ralph: Mine! They’re my neighbors! Our kids are friends and everything.
Chana: And how much power do you have to control their actions?
Chana: So are you in your Business?
Ralph: I’m confused.
Ralph needs to understand the concept Business better, so I’ll guide him through the Back in Your Business visualization exercise. I invite you to try it as well.
Chana: Close your eyes, take some breaths, and relax. Now place your hand on the part of your body you usually do when you say, “I am.” Feel the energy under your hand. Imagine all of your energy collecting into that place, and you are centered there, rather than scattered. Think, “I am, I am, I am,” and feel the energy under your hand. Notice how it centers you and holds you up. Do you feel your vitality there?
Ralph: (with his hand on his chest) Yes. I feel calm here. Peaceful. My mind is quiet. It’s like sitting on a warm sofa. Ralph’s focus and energy are coming back into himself, back into his own Business.
Chana: Now, imagine your neighbor standing in front of his house, and you are believing the thought that his wife shouldn’t leave him. Feel what happens to that energy under your hand. Does it change in any way? Does it stay where it is or go elsewhere?
Ralph: It’s all shaky and agitated. And it’s not in me anymore. I see it over in the distance – with him.
Chana: Is it really with him, or does it just hover?
Ralph: It’s hovering.
Chana: How much power do you have over there?
Ralph: None. I can’t change his situation no matter how much I think about trying to.
Chana: And now that the energy has left you, what do you feel in your body?
Ralph: It feels empty. Sad. My body wants to collapse.
Chana: This is because you’ve left yourself, your Business, your power center, and you hopped over into your neighbor’s Business.
Ralph: Oh. I get it. Even though he’s my neighbor, I can’t change him, and for sure can’t change his wife.
Chana: Now, take a deep breath and imagine yourself back at your neighbor’s house without the thought that she shouldn’t leave him. How are you without it?
Ralph: I’m more relaxed and more present. Like when I put my hand on my chest.
Chana: So, let’s turn it around. What’s the opposite of she shouldn’t leave him?
Ralph: She should leave him?
Chana: Yes. Give me three reasons why that’s true.
Ralph: She doesn’t look too happy.
Chana: Did you pay attention to that when you believed she shouldn’t?
Ralph: No. It wasn’t relevant at all.
Chana: That’s good to notice. Give me two more reasons she should leave him.
Ralph: They fight all the time. We can even hear it from my bedroom at night. They tried counseling, and it was a total flop.
Chana: And another one?
Ralph: Actually, one of their kids told my daughter that she’s so sick of all the fighting. The kids might rather their parents didn’t live together.
Chana: Now let’s turn it around again. Put yourself in the picture this time.
Ralph: I shouldn’t leave him.
Chana: How’s that true?
Ralph: When I’m busy pitying him, I can’t really be his friend. It’s like I’m looking down at him. Also, I’m not helping him believe he has the strength to survive this. People get divorced all the time and move on, but it must be hard for him when his friend is pushing him to fight reality all the time.
Chana: And what else?
Ralph: He could use support right now. I could spend more time with him. We could go out for a beer once a week; I bet he’d love that. And it wouldn’t be as heavy as complaining in his backyard, which is usually where we end up when we do hang out. I thought that to be a good friend I had to put down his wife and resent her, but he might need some fun in his life instead.
Chana: And you?
Ralph: Totally. I don’t want to be in such a negative place either.
Chana: What’s another turnaround, perhaps this time about your marriage? We want to focus on your Business.
Ralph: I shouldn’t leave…. my wife.
Chana: Tell me about that.
Ralph: When I’m busy thinking about them, I’m not present for her. There are so many ways I could be a better husband.
Chana: That’s where your power is. In your choices, your behaviors. So how can you be more present for your wife?
Ralph: She loves massages. I can offer them more than I do. And when we got married, I said I would do the dishes, but mostly she does them. I could do more stuff like that around the house.
Chana: And one more?
Ralph: I haven’t surprised her with anything romantic in …. Wow…. In a long time. I should take her swing dancing. We both enjoy that.
Chana: How does it feel to be in your Business?
Ralph: Empowering. These are things I can do. I got so caught up in my neighbors’ lives, I didn’t even realize I wasn’t showing up in my own.
Chana: Now I’m going to push you to come up with one more turnaround. You shouldn’t leave…
Ralph: Myself ?
Chana: Yes. When you are busy in your neighbor’s Business, who’s with you?
Ralph: Oh. I leave myself. I feel incredibly lonely then.
Chana: So give me three reasons why you shouldn’t leave yourself is true.
Ralph: I shouldn’t leave myself because I need my energy for all the things I want to do in my life. And … because I hate the way it feels.
Chana: What else?
Ralph: Because then I’m in my Business.
Ralph: That’s where I want to be.
It’s easy to wallow in our Circle of Concern and judge others’ behavior. It’s also completely disheartening. Although focusing on our own actions requires a lot more work, it’s far more effective and empowering. The more we take the judgments we have of others and point them back to ourselves, the more we can learn about how to create meaningful change for the better. With every empowered action we take, we increase our Circle of Influence.
Summary of No Business Like Your Business
Use the Back in Your Business visualization to when you want to come back to your center and find ease. By understanding what being in your Business feels like, you’re more empowered to live from that place and learn that there’s No Business Like Your Business!
Like what you’ve read? You can learn No Business Like Your Businessalong with 21 other tools in my book, Hold That Thought. Download a free copy of the book here.
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