Lately I have noticed the people around me getting way too stressed out about things that are not their problems and I am concerned. I do know that the fact that they are stressing about these things is not my problem either but I did stop to ponder on it because there was a time, not so long ago, when I used to get worked up about things that weren’t my problem too. I have recently learned of the polish proverb, “not my circus, not my monkeys” (nie moj cyrk, nie moje malpy), which simply means “not my problem”. And ever since I heard it, I’ve repeated it to myself and my stress levels have plummeted.
I am trying to get my friends on board, but they don’t see them magic that comes from letting go of other people’s problems. They worry and stress and think of everything that can go wrong even when what can go wrong will have little or no consequences for them. For example:
There have recently been some management changes at our job. Not many people have confidence in the big boss man who made the changes. They think that this idea was a bad one and imagine that the place is going to fall apart after the managers shuffle. The thing I keep trying to point out is that this place doesn’t belong to any of us! Therefore, anything that goes wrong is neither our fault nor will it affect us greatly. For us the only change will be who we report to, that’s it. If staff fucks this place up, staff will be the ones to deal with it. Not your circus, not your monkeys.*
The other thing my friends worry about is drama that may creep up between other friends, co-workers, or even our bosses. Again if you aren’t involved and if it doesn’t affect you, don’t worry about it. So what if people fight? Yeah I know you care but ask yourself these questions: is there anything you can do to fix the situation? And why do I even care? If it’s up to the parties involved to work out their own shit, then let them. And if they can’t, then let them deal with that too. If you are only involved because one of the parties wants you to be, don’t. You just worry about you and go on about your day. Not your circus, not your monkeys.
Another thing, related to the above, is people’s issues within themselves. Look, I’m all for being there for somebody but there really is only so much you can do. At some point people have to take responsibility for their own emotional, mental, financial, and relationship problems. If you have a friend who only wants to bitch and never does anything to even remotely fix their own problem, you have to step back. If you have a friend who involves you to the point that you feel stressed and anxious about their problem, you have to step back. If you have a friend that expects you to fix their problem, you have to cut them off. Not your circus, not your monkeys.
And finally, the one even I am guilty of, let people on the internet be wrong sometimes. I love a heated Twitter debate just as much as the next person, but I also love the Twitter block feature too. Some people want to argue just to argue, and some people get off on making you mad. If you find yourself getting upset in real life over something someone said on the internet, take a step back. You don’t know them and it isn’t your job to show them how wrong and ignorant they are. Not only that but I can just about guarantee you will not succeed.
Those people are not there to listen and learn, they are there to argue. Remember, we all have Google at our finger tips and if someone wants to learn about something they can, you don’t have to make it your personal mission to bring these people into the light. Not your circus, not your monkeys.
You have to remember that even when you want to help sometimes you have to step back and realize that not only do these issues not concern you, but that you can’t fix them. Let people figure out their own shit, meanwhile, you worry about you. I am sure you have your own problems or issues you need to work on so go work on those. Mind your own business, get your own monkeys in order, and see if things don’t get better.
*Now before you say anything about the possibility of layoffs should things go wrong, I work for a school district and federal law requires they have people in my position so we do have a good amount of job security.