Not My Circus, Not My Monkey

Not my circus, not my monkey.One of my favorite sayings is “Not my circus, not my monkey.”

Evidently, this is a Polish proverb.

Maybe it is because I have an affinity to monkeys, but I love the meaning of that.

Am I caught up trying to deal with someone else’s circus or monkey?  Am I trying to deal with an issue over which I have no control, and maybe not even a stake?

We do that.

Friends are fighting, and we get in the middle.  Family members are angry with each other, and we intervene.  Office squabbles (in which we have no stake) pull us in.  We make the circus our own, try to take over that monkey.

I don't have a dog in that fight.When I was growing up, we had another saying:  “I don’t have a dog in that fight.”

Something is happening around us, and we involve ourselves.

But if we involve ourselves when it is not our issue, not our fight, and has little bearing on our own lives, we usually end up on the losing side.

Communication theorists talk about this as creating a triangle.  The reason for the triangle is an attempt to lower the level of conflict.  It is an attempt to stabilize the situation.  But instead of stabilizing, it only serves to destabilize, pull energy, and entrap bystanders.

We can thank our ancient ancestors for this tendency.  But it is up to us to not pretend we have a dog in the fight.  It is up to us to remember it is someone else’s circus, someone else’s monkey.

Learn how to distinguish your involvement in this podcast.  Listen below.

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