Not my circus, not my monkeys – what a brilliant phrase that is jam-packed with so many different insights depending on the angle.
Imagine a circus. Let’s assume the ringmaster has chosen to be there as have all his performers – Yes, the animals have consented too.
The ringmaster directs each act and people are flying through the air, while on the ground small dogs in tutus jump through hoops of fire. Each performer understands the ringmaster’s signals and they move into the positions they are supposed to be in. The ringmaster cues each act in and out seamlessly and in perfect sequence. It all appears to be flowing nicely.
Now imagine if an audience member decided they could do it better. They stand up and appoint themselves as the new ringmaster. They have lots of well-meaning advice as they confidently enter the ring, despite never having walked a day in the shoes of the ringmaster.
They begin directing the way they think things should be done and chaos begins to unfold. Circus equipment is going in one direction, while performers are heading in the other. Lions are eyeing off lunch as clowns balance precariously on horseback. Tightrope walkers are given floppy oversized shoes and tiny cars to squish into.
The audience member is so sure they can do it better than the ringmaster, but really, they have no business being in the ring.
This is what happens when we try and take control of something that is not ours to control. This is what happens when we think we can fix a situation or an individual. This is what happens when we walk into a situation so sure that if everyone would just do as we say and behave how we tell them to, it will all be good.
What’s going on in your life at the moment, that might not be your circus to direct?
Are you making assumptions that you know better despite never having walked a day in the other person’s shoes?
Most of us have at some stage experienced the other side of the coin. On this side, we become involved in another person’s drama or stuff. We carry it around with us all day every day. We eagerly await updates on who said what to whom, and when. Then we spend precious energy critiquing another person’s behaviour.
Are you responsible for the situation? If the answer is YES, then focus on figuring out what’s going wrong in the circus and find new ways to make it work. (The answer may lie in finding better ways for YOU to think or behave).
If the answer is NO, then realistically what IS your role here?
Is it possible that you are inadvertently getting involved in the running of another person’s circus with no good reason to be there?
There are two things in life that we can control. How we think and how we respond.
Life is short. Do you really want to spend yours trying to convince someone of something other than what they believe? (ie. YOUR way).
Wouldn’t your time be better spent finding people whose values align with yours and sharing life with them?
Do you really want to spend precious time embroiled in another person’s drama?
Each person has their own journey and in most cases, they are choosing (consciously or unconsciously) to be in that situation.
Unfortunately at the end of the day, many of us are addicted to the daily drama in life. It’s the reason newspapers sell, reality TV is so popular, and why there is only a 2-minute time slot allocated for the ‘feel good story’ at the end of the news bulletin.
And here’s a point. Just maybe, if you gave up the role of ringmaster in someone else’s circus you might actually find you have more space and energy to focus on your own circus and enjoy the precious life you have. You just don’t know which one will be your last performance.
Dalya xx 💙