Not my circus, not my monkeys



This delightful Polish saying has brought me laughter in times of sorrow and peace in times of frustration. This saying has helped me to move past hurts and resentments and I want to share some perspective on how it might just be able to help you too.

Let it go, let it go...

Even though it's been years, I still hear Frozen. every. single. time. It's not that I don't like the movie, just that I tend to find myself nodding my head and humming and before you know it I'm belting out that song while driving and people just stare at me when we're stopped at the light. So, for that - I'm sorry, you probably started singing too.
The real question here is how to let go of something, maybe it was a painful experience, perhaps it's a relationship that's now over, or it could be that hurt from years past that still makes you mad every time you think about it. Whatever it is that you are dealing with, letting something go is a difficult prospect in some ways. I mean, it's not something that we are usually taught how to do. And with all the nostalgia inducing tv and movies these past few years it can even seem like it's not really possible to let go and move on. But it is. So let's take a look at some strategies for different things to let go of. (or for the more grammatically inclined, let's take a look at some strategies for different thing of which you wish to let go).

How to let go of a relationship

It's over, move on. While this may be accurate, it seems pretty cold and uncaring. What you might be wanting is not just to go to the next thing in life, but to figure out how to make the heartache stop. This takes some time, and works better when you can think of this whole experience in a different way. In some respects, it's like grieving a death. You have lost the relationship that you had and with it the potential relationship it could have been and the idealized relationship you wanted it to be. These can be powerful feelings of sadness and loss. This is where our Polish saying comes in handy. In times of sadness and loss it can be meaningful to talk about the problems as if they are at arms length. This hurt isn't from me - not my circus. I don't want to be a part of the sadness - not my monkeys. Sadness happens, but you don't have to stay in it. The relationship is over, but now, it's not your problem anymore. You don't have to be trapped by longing for what was, that's another circus, not one you're a part of anymore. Time to look for the next thing to do. This will take time, you'll have to remind yourself, but consistent effort in one direction will get you there.

How to let go of anger and/or resentment

Don't waste your energy. At this point it's just hurting you, not that other person. You've probably heard something like this before. While it may seem small and unhelpful, this kind of mentality is the key to breaking past your hurts and resentments, the ones you cling on to for far too long.
In order to do this you need to take a long and searching look at what is making you angry or resentful. Did someone hurt you and never get the punishment they deserved? Were you passed over for that promotion again and are bitter that your time hasn't come? Understanding the motivations behind your feelings can help you learn to separate your feelings about an event (getting hurt or passed over) from the recognition that something bad happened. Our saying can give us a boost here. The things that happened which made you angry and resentful, that's on someone else - not my circus. The angry feelings that you have, those don't have to belong to you either - not my monkeys. By deciding and subsequently telling yourself again and again that this is "not my circus, not my monkeys" you can begin to separate your feelings from the memory and then deal with each one in a healthier way, without limping them together. Sure, that person was a jerk and hurt you - but that's on them. Yeah, you've still felt angry, but those are just feelings and don't have to be how you live. You have to just let it go, that whole situation, it's not yours to deal with or obsess over or think about anymore. Whoever it was that you are angry at or were hurt by all those years ago, they probably don't even think about it any more. It's just weighing you down, but it doesn't have to. That whole mess, it's not your circus, not your monkeys any longer. What's done is done, but you don't have to live in it every day.

Not my circus.
Not my monkeys.