When I look at “live and let live” I hear it telling me to mind my own business. I tell people that I work with in the program that their business ends at the tip of their nose. Alcoholics are notorious for having a solution for everyone else’s problems, except their own. We tend to want to control everything and everyone while we cannot control our own behavior.
There is a saying (to paraphrase) “why do I see the speck in my brother’s eye when I cannot see the plank in my own.” We may be riddled with defects of character at the moment yet we choose to try and “fix” someone else! By living and let live we can have much more peaceful and productive relations with others. We do not have the answer for all questions and situations. Remember that our life is unmanageable, by us. By the end of Step 3 we begin to see how our selfishness and self-centeredness has affected others. Some people have been deeply hurt by our actions and talk. This will be discussed in Step 4 with out sponsor.
Of course, if someone seeks our opinion or help it if we are able, we offer it. Maybe we have been through a similar situation as the other. It is appropriate to share our experience, strength and hope. It is not appropriate to tell others what to do unless asked for our opinion. This opinion has to be based on our own experience and is not to be used to tell the other what to do. One may tell them how they got through a difficult situation and stayed sober. We just have to be careful to not sound like we have all the answers. The other person needs to find their own answers from their Higher Power and sponsor.
By not feeling responsible for others actions we feel a new freedom flow into us. Of course, we are empathetic with the person who is approaching us. But we do not give advice that is beyond our scope of expertise. I can’t share legitimately about Step 10 unless I have taken that Step. I must remember to maintain a humble attitude of myself in regard to my progress in the Steps. I can also refer a person asking for help to someone who is more advanced in the steps than myself. Hopefully this may help them find the answers they re looking for.
“Live and let live” is more difficult than it appears on the surface. We may have to give up habits and ways of communicating that are not helpful to another individual. We must learn to respect every person as one of God’s creations. We must honor their dignity as being just that.