When you learn to stay in your lane, your life will be so much better. The purpose of this piece is to offer nine ways to help you stay in your lane.
1. Fix Yourself First. When you’re too eager to solve the problems of others, or too swift to make an unproductive generalization or analysis about someone else, pause and begin working on yourself. You have too many issues in your own life to address to devote time to the problems of others.
2. Recognize Your Own Inadequacies. Before you attempt to highlight the inadequacies of others, take enough time to eliminate your own.
3. Stop Running Your Mouth So Much. Many people talk so much—never taking time to listen—that they fail to realize what they are actually saying. Excessive talking can lead you to commenting on phenomena you lack sufficient knowledge to discuss. Listen just as much as you speak.
4. Consider How Insignificant Your Comments Are. Most of what you respond to that doesn’t directly involve you will not be affected in any way by what you’re wasting your time trying to convey about it. Take a moment to consider this question: Who cares what I have to say? If your response is “all that matters is I said what I had to say,” then understand you’re simply being self-indulgent. When this is your frequent response, recognize that you’re self-absorbed.
5. Understand the Harm Your Words Can Cause. When you get out of your lane, you increase the likelihood of communicating something hurtful or harmful. If you feel compelled to say something, at least take the necessary time to articulate it in a responsible way.
6. Respect the Differences of Others. Just because people don’t do what you do and don’t think like you, those aren’t valid reasons for you to involve yourself in their business. Give people the freedom to be who they are—just as you desire to have the liberty to be who you are. Don’t attempt to impose your values on others; your values are just that—your values.
7. Analyze your intentions. Investigate the real reason or reasons you feel it necessary to step into someone else’s lane. You may discover that your intentions are what need addressing instead of the issues others are confronting.
8. Keep a Private Journal. Instead of always involving yourself in the affairs of others, purchase a journal and record your thoughts. You will find journaling to be a healthy way to end your desire to get into other people’s lanes. Also, you will discover that journaling is cathartic and meaningful narrative therapy. A private journal is a safe space for you to collect your thoughts without hurting anyone, without getting into a lane you shouldn’t be in, and without having to experience negative repercussions.
9. Acknowledge You’re Not the Messiah. You don’t have all of the answers. You’re not always right. No one believes everything you say is the Gospel.
Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels
University of Wisconsin-Madison