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Amy Winn

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Why is it that other people's behavior bothers us?

Today I witnessed a young mom with two small children and one on the way smoking a cigarette and it bothered me. So I am asking the question why, and does that bother you too?

We have all seen the disapproving glances that are given to someone with lots of tattoos or piercings by someone that has none. We have all seen drivers that are paying attention to anything but the road, and we shake our heads in frustration. We watch our neighbors spend money on beer when their kids have holes in their shoes, and get a knot in our stomach over it. But these issues do not involve our lives, our money or our decisions, so why do we care? Everyone says “butt out”, or “it’s not your business”, and at the same time I keep hearing that phrase “It takes a village to raise a child.”

So, folks, which is it, does it take a village, or do we mind our own business? When do we speak up and when do we stand back, and how do we control feeling torn apart when other peoples’ behavior bothers us?

Feel free to share what bothers you, whether or not you did anything about it, what exactly you did, and if you believe that it made a difference.

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    Nov 30 2013: Hi Amy,
    There's no reply option for your recent comment so I will reply here....

    "Amy Winn
    Hi Colleen, Your comment really stuck a nerve in me..."

    Those situations strike a nerve with me too sometimes Amy, because I am very conscious about eating healthy AND spending wisely. You also mention...a woman with children smoking, drivers not paying attention, people spending money on beer when their kids have holes in their shoes, etc., and you ask...when do we speak up and when do we stand back? That's a challenging question and decision Amy!

    If we address every behavior that we do not agree with, we certainly would be busy! If we speak to every person in the grocery store who we feel is not buying healthy food, we would probably be asked to leave the store!

    One thing for me, is to realize that it is not beneficial to impose MY preferences onto others. The only time I have intervened with a behavior, is when I've seen children being physically abused by an adult. I've intervened a couple times...one time in a grocery store, and the woman said "thanks for reminding me". She told me how stressed and tired she was, and said she would try not to take it out on the kids. Did it make a difference? It certainly short circuited the abuse in that moment, and hopefully it served to genuinely remind her.

    One time, I saw a little child fall out of the back seat of a moving vehicle on a main street. The car kept going and the child was in the middle of traffic frightened and crying. I went into the road, picked the child up and carried her to the side, while trying to comfort her. The car came back, a young woman jumped out, grabbed the child roughly, punched me in the face, and told me to leave her kid along! I noticed two more kids in the car. I stopped at the police station and reported the incident. I know the intervention helped that time because the police knew exactly who it was, and informed child protective services.
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      Nov 30 2013: Colleen, On behalf of those children, thank you. And all of your comments about being so busy trying to fix what is wrong is again something that my husband has consistently told me. My grandmother used to carry a plastic bag with her and pick up trash that she saw on the street. When she took me to the park, if she saw s bottle, or a big stick that a child can get hurt with, she would remove it. So, this is something that was just in me for as long as I can remember, that if you see something wrong, do something. However, since I was a child, times have surely changed. And it is so true that there just aren't enough hours in the day to try to fix all of the things that I see that bother me. I should prioritize the things that matter the most, (like a child being abused for example) and learn to let the other stuff go as a matter of the times changing.
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        Nov 30 2013: Thank you for the kind feedback Amy:>)

        That is exactly why your question is challenging Amy....when do we speak up, and when do we stand back??? How can we EVER resolve the challenges we have in our world???

        Each individual cannot do it alone, and when we remember that there are billions of people in our world, many of whom are genuinely working toward change, it sometimes seems like the task is less daunting.

        The idea that I CAN do something was planted in me as a child as well Amy. I agree that prioritizing things helps. For example, my father was violent and abusive, and I had a desire to "fix" that situation in our world, so when time finally permitted, I volunteered in a shelter for women and children. From there, I volunteered with the dept. of corrections facilitating programs with offenders of violence and abuse. There were several offshoots of this theme.....I facilitated workshops for women, guest lectured and facilitated discussion groups at the university on violence and abuse in relationships, etc. etc. My focus for a period of time (about 8 years) was violence and abuse in our world. When I witnessed some situations, like what I described above, of course I addressed it because it felt natural to me.

        As individuals, it helps to be clear with our "self"....what is our priority at certain times in our lives.....how much time do we have to dedicate to our goal....etc.

        We cannot change everything by ourselves, and this has helped to guide me.....
        "Grant me the serenity to accept things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference"

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