"True love heals and affects spiritual growth. If we do not grow because of someone
else’s love, it’s generally because it is a counterfeit form of love."
— John Bradshaw (Healing the Shame that Binds You)
I was talking to my sister about my recent frustration with a situation I had no control over.
She used the phrase, “Not my circus, not my monkeys,” to help me realize that what I was
complaining about was really not my problem ultimately. I loved the phrase so much that I
decided to use it to illustrate that many of us may focus on things that only make us feel a sense of hopelessness because we are powerless to change it.
How often do you find yourself complaining about what somebody else did to you? Or, you find yourself saying, “if only that person would change, or admit their wrongdoings everything in my life would be so much better.” Whenever we expend energy on wishing someone else or some situation out of our control would change it creates an energy leak. If you feel lethargic, have more frequent unexplained aches and pains, or find yourself having difficulty focusing, these can be signs that you are not in the present and “leaking” or wasting energy on a situation out of your control. I often suggest to my clients that they try and live by the Alcoholics Anonymous saying, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
I’ve been reading the book, The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, and the essence of his
message is that we as a culture misguidedly emphasis the importance of using our mind to
analyze, problem solve and focus too much on the past or future. He says that when you are complaining about a life situation you automatically cast yourself in the victim role and thus stay in a place of disempowerment because complaining is “always non-acceptance of what is.” He says that if you find the present moment “intolerable, you have three options: remove yourself from the situation, change it or accept it totally.” Once you realize the drama you are facing really isn’t your own – not your circus, not your monkeys in other words -- more than likely you will have to remove yourself or accept the situation.
I am aware of how difficult this concept is to accept let alone apply to our lives. It is human
nature to want things to go our way and to believe that if only the conditions outside of ourselves were “the way I want them to be, I would be happy” (see my blog entry Fictional Finalisms). However, I believe that letting go of that which we cannot control and focusing on our inner well being are crucial components to making our lives not only more manageable but the keys to keeping our peace and finding our happiness.
I have come up with some ideas about how to learn to implement this concept into daily
1) First ask, “Whose problem is it?” If you haven’t caused the problem then you are not/do not need to be part of the solution.
2) If you are being blamed for the situation but believe the other person has made assumptions, projected their issues on to you when you know you haven’t done what they said, ground and center yourself by exercising, meditating and discussing the situation with an objective person.
3) If you identify a pattern of the same situation or drama coming up with the same person or people it might be time to re-evaluate whether it is a healthy to keep them in your life.
4) If you are having trouble letting go and still obsessing because you tend to take things
personally, it is a good indicator that you are too attached to a certain outcome that you can’t control, you are too attached to the person or people playing a certain role in your life and behaving in a way that you believe they “should,” or you have your own insecurities and self-worth issues that need to be addressed.
I hope this helps if you are dealing with situations in your life that are not your drama but still
affect you emotionally. Ultimately, you have to love and value yourself enough to not allow
others to define you, steal your peace or make you doubt your worthiness.