Manage Self Not Other (and Not Nature)

There’s a saying my therapist gave me: manage self, not other (MSNO). The idea is that you can’t really control the actions and thoughts of others, so it is much more efficient to focus on your own needs and actions. And if all parties do this, the result is much more harmonious relationships.

I run into these types of situations a lot. Situations where I have to choose pleasing other people over taking care of myself for instance. Or when I want someone to do something that will please me, and then I remind myself that doing that will only get me into more trouble, not to mention it won’t be very effective.

It’s also a piece of language I use when someone else trying to manage me. Even if the intent is to be kind, like a relative repeatedly asking if I’ve had enough food at a gathering.

But there’s a deeper valley to MSNO. I call it Mnaage Self Not Nature. And it might be a key to managing anxiety.

Because anxiety has a lot to do with external events, things we can’t control. But if we manage self and not nature, then we effectively allow nature to run its course.

Here’s the trick: nature will run its course anyway. So “manage self not nature” can be abbreviated to “manage self.”

It’s a much more empowering version of “stop trying to control things that you cannot.” That one leaves us feeling helpless. And it’s harder to stop doing something than it is to simply manage self.