Not my monkeys, not my circus

April 9, 2016 Sandra Dawes

I remember the first time a saw a meme with this saying, I thought it was funny. The more I saw it, the more it Not my circus, not my monkeysbecame a motto, a mantra even. It’s funny how this saying made me aware of how many times I have allowed myself to get caught up in drama that really had nothing to do with me.

I know that my ability to take on other people’s problems as my own comes from my need to fix things. I want to help; I want to make it better. I don’t like to see the people I care about hurt in any way, who does? Some of us are just better at keeping our distance in matters that don’t really involve them. They understand that whatever the issue is, it’s not their circus, and definitely not their monkeys!

How do we know when we’ve gone beyond the point of no return? For me, it starts with becoming personally invested in the issue. I’m no longer offering advice as an impartial third party; I’ve made the problem, my problem. I’m constantly checking in, making sure everything’s okay. I’m neglecting stuff in my own backyard. I bought the circus, monkeys included, when I have my own zoo that needs attention!

I’ve realized that getting too involved in matters that don’t affect us personally can be a dangerous thing. We can become so involved in the issue that it consumes us. When other people’s problems start to affect our emotional well-being, it’s time to take a step back. Feeling bad or sorry for someone doesn’t make their situation any better, it just makes you feel bad.

This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t offer help and support to others. There’s a big difference between taking on someone’s issues as your own and empathizing with what they’re going through. If you find yourself being pulled into someone else’s difficulties, ask yourself why you think this is happening. Oftentimes, it’s because of unresolved issues in our own lives. We all have our own circus and monkeys to deal with. Until we get our own issues in order, we’re in no position to help others in a healthy, productive way.

The next time you feel yourself getting drawn into someone else’s drama, stop for a minute. Ask yourself what you can do to truly be of service to the person going through the challenging time. Do you serve them better by becoming invested in their problem, or by being a voice of reason and positive support in finding a solution? If you’re unsure, it may be time to remind yourself that it’s not always your circus, or your monkeys. ♥

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