Cleaning Up Your Own Messes – Are You a Thief?

When you don’t clean up your own messes you are stealing.

This can be messes at work, messes in your relationships, literal messes in your house. If you make a mess and leave it for someone else to fix you are stealing time from them.

When material goods lose value, time becomes all we have

It is easy to get stuck in one-directional thinking. When I love something, I try to look at it from many angles. Through examinations allow for more accurate observations than casual glances do.

In Buddhism, there are five precepts, or rules, governing behavior helping to point you in the correct direction as you first getting started down the path. At first, the rules seem simple but as you undertake them you realize some of their implications (and your own) are less obvious.

For example, the 2nd precept is to abstain from stealing. Most people know you should not steal and will breeze right over this rule without giving it additional thought. Further study leads to alternate translations “I will not take what has not been freely given”.

Modern people obsess over things and objects, but in the Buddha’s time, most people would not have had the means to be as materialistic as we are today. Yes, this precept is saying that you should not steal things from other people, but the phrase “what has not been freely given” can easily include so much more.

First I would like to point out that this includes time. When you have to do everything the old fashioned way, from getting water to making food from scratch, (and now that many people work 45-60 hours a week) time is everything.

Taking someone’s time is stealing and it is disrespectful. Please think about this, as I feel the offense is no different from taking the money from someone’s checking account.

Think about the consequences of your actions, contemplating the reach of your karma. Are you indirectly stealing from the people around you? Are you stealing their valuable time and energy?

That project at work when you pretended you didn’t notice your own mistake (so you could get off work on time) – what about the person who has to go behind you and fix it? After you made your sandwich did you leave mayo and breadcrumbs all over the counter for your mother to clean your mess? Did you leave your dishes in the sink hoping your roommate won’t mind?

Little transgressions, lazy things we do that drive the people around us crazy. Stealing time. On the surface, it may just seem like bread crumbs and dishes, but below a much more sinister plot is brewing. Maybe you don’t realize the full weight of your actions – you are unaware of your thefts.

Stealing is stealing.

When you steal from someone you place yourself above them, saying “my needs are more important than yours”. When you steal time from someone you say, “my time on earth is more valuable than yours”. Stealing someone’s things is also stealing someone’s time because they most likely had to work and put in the time to earn whatever you’ve stolen.

Stealing someone’s things is also stealing someone’s time because they most likely had to work and put in the time to earn whatever you’ve stolen. When you steal from someone you are disrespecting them. Don’t disrespect the people in your life. People will remember your actions more than what you say.

Think about the ways you may be stealing from the people around you – taking more than is offered, being late for work, leaving a mess behind you (literally or figuratively). Be mindful of your actions and their effects, be mindful of your karma.

Are you a thief?


17 thoughts on “Cleaning Up Your Own Messes – Are You a Thief?

  1. Oooh I really like this! You speak great truths, girl! And your timing is perfect! I really needed this today. 😊❤️

    ~The Silent Wave Blog writer/Laina 🌟🌟

  2. I identify with this so very much! My ex had this nasty habit of scheduling things and then canceling at the last minute, or worse, not specifying a time, leaving me to give up whole days so I wouldn’t accidentally schedule something during the time he wanted to do something, and he never understood why it bothered me so badly. Especially when he would cancel… after I’d left an entire day open for him. Then again, that is one of a million reasons why he’s my ex.

    Thank you for sharing and putting this feeling into words I can use to explain if I ever find myself in that situation again. 🙂

      1. In law, the general mens rea (culpability for intent that specifies a crime) for theft is the “intention of permanently depriving the other” for, the purpose related to your blog post which brings up really good points, is related to time.

        So I guess my question is would it not be important to address directly with such person(s) to ascertain intent to establish the necessary culpability?

  3. A thought-provoking post (I always like those 🙂 There are different situations that call for different actions I think, but can relate to this example yesterday with my stepson and my approach that has effectively solved my issue, although it was not my first initial reaction, and has taken practice in application from a stepparenting point of view.

    My husband is more of a “Disneyland dad” where rules and structure are largely not communicated or ignored all together – yesterday, my stepson knocked down a vase with flowers, made a comment that he was glad nothing broke, and walked away without picking up the flowers or the vase.

    Before I acted (although emotionally, it does get draining), I thought about what options given the circumstances I really had and come up with the following: 1) I could have just picked up the flowers and the vase (which band-aids the underlying issue); 2) attempted to call out my stepson and make him pick up the flowers (which never works well); 3) Gotten his father involved (which also has proven to be more trouble than its worth based on differing styles); or 4) walked away and left the vase and flowers on the floor.

    I chose option 4.

    I think from your blog post, option 1, 2, and 3 are in essence “time-stealing”, because I was focused on cleaning up a problem that I myself am not involved in, but certainly the vase on the floor with flowers strewn about effects my physical and mental space.

    But rather than focusing on feeling like my stepson was a thief, I looked inward at myself where I had to take a “leap of faith”and walk away (effectively passing the ball back) by NOT exercising control as the most appropriate action and hope that the persons who effectively could solve the problem (which clearly I could not as evidenced by my past decisions to try) would do so.

    All, I could effectively say with uttermost assurance and certainty was that I was not the person who was going to pick up the vase and the flowers because I did not knock them over. Choosing to be kind, and not harbor resentment over the incident while also acknowledging that there was far more behind the flowers and the vase being on the floor, although unequivocally, the situation is beyond frustrating and does emotionally take it’s toll (but naturally, is related to a series of larger issues that manifest with the physical reality of the vase and flowers).

  4. Well written. The most valuable commodity we have is our time. Stealing an hour of someone’s time doesn’t add a second to yours.

  5. I am on the opposite side of this. I keep finding myself having to help people that don’t really need help,they just want me to do the work they can’t be bothered with. Then,at the end of the day, I get frustrated because I haven’t accomplished anything I want to.
    I’m currently in the mood to dodge the phone, door and messages because it always seems to be someone wanting something. I’m burnt out with it.

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