Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys

Clarissa, a very successful recruitment professional bemoaned the fact that she has to constantly deal with her husband's ex wife and their teen son, James. The ex wife was phoning Clarissa at work to get advice on how to handle James' lies and delinquent behaviour. Of course in the end nobody listened to Clarissa's 'pearls of wisdom' and everyone did as they pleased. This left her frustrated, irritable and highly annoyed. Like most people Clarissa already had a full and demanding life with very little 'me' time.

I shared an old Polish saying with her on her last visit and she fully connected with the meaning of ' Not my circus, not my monkeys'. This essentially means - steer clear of other people's high drama - especially those people that thrive on pity, petty arguments and exaggerated emotions. I encouraged Clarissa to evaluate whether she really had the capacity to take on anyone else's circus but her own. She smiled and said that she was going to put this quote on her work desk!

At the end of the day it is a matter of having healthy and strong boundaries with others that communicate care without opening yourself up to abuse. If getting involved means losing sleep and your peace of mind - step back! Anything that takes you away from your relationship priorities and divine purpose needs to be left alone - completely alone.


  1. Whose circus are you starring in?

Written by Dr Rani Samuel
Clinical Psychologist