Whose Circus Is It?

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April 18, 2015

The polish expression “Not my circus, not my monkeys” has finally made it to the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia where I live and work. I have a client who has been telling me about their use of it in her home. This week another client brought me a copy of the expression off of the internet.

The reason these clients are showing me this expression is because this is very much what Disentangle, When You’ve Lost Your Self in Someone Else is all about! They know that we talk about and work on boundaries often. We work on letting go of things and people not in our control. We work on learning to develop and manage our own circus.

I am glad that this old expression has made it to our popular culture. I am glad people are noticing that sometimes we are trying to manage someone else’s monkeys, that we are in the arena of a circus that is not ours to be in. And behind the fondness for this expression I believe is the realization of the craziness that can come from chasing someone else’s monkeys.

This is what can happen when we lose our self in someone else, when we are over-functioning in someone else’s life and under-functioning in our own. These are the ways I describe codependent behaviors. I still find that people are reluctant to look at their codependent behaviors. They steer away from the codependent word; they have reasons to justify their involvement in the lives of others. So I am very happy that a colloquial expression helps people to identify the importance of noticing if they are dealing with someone else’s circus and monkeys, and I am glad we can all laugh at this image.

Disentangle, When You’ve Lost Your Self in Someone Else offers four areas of skill development to help with learning to work with the monkeys in your own circus and to really practice “Not my circus, not my monkeys.”


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