Roger Harty: Not My Circus Not My Monkeys

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EVERY now and then we come across a slogan that seems to ‘fit the bill’ for our lives.

‘Not my circus not my monkeys’ is one such slogan that works very well for me. In fact, it is an old Polish proverb and if you ‘google it’ you will find a lot of information about it.

It is a slogan that can be applied to everyday life in the sense that we can train ourselves not to get sucked into solving problems, be they personal or world affairs, that we don’t really need to be involved in.

It could be construed as being an ‘I’m alright Jack’ type of attitude which is selfish by nature and not very healthy, but I don’t see ‘not my circus not my monkeys’ in the same light.

It’s used more in the context or protecting ourselves from getting over involved in unnecessary argument.

It is a very handy psychological tool to have in your back pocket if someone tries to draw you into an argument that really is not of your making.

They make all sorts of accusations against you (true or not) and try to force you into some sort of explanation.

The use of the tool comes into place when you gently move away and say to yourself – ‘just remember, not my circus not my monkeys’ followed by a smile. It really does prevent you from getting sucked in and the person with the real problem has to go and search out another victim.

There is another aspect to this which I also find very helpful. As you well know, we live in the world of the internet and with that, instant on the second worldwide news.

If a tragic incident happened in distant South America the unfortunate news can be transmitted to us within a minute.

Go back only 100 years, if someone from say Caherciveen was visiting a relative in Dingle they would write to them about three weeks prior and inform them of their impending trip.

On arrival much discussion would arise about the journey and all the local news from the Caherciveen area and it’s surrounds.

The point I am making here is that as part of our evolution as human beings we only ever had access to local news and as such were unaware of tragedies happening at the other side of the world (at least the information took a long time to filter through).

If we were unaware of outside the parish events it was a case of, through no fault of our own – Not our Circus Not our monkeys.

Most newspapers know that negative news (tragedies such as rape, murder and wars)  sells newspapers – that’s why most of the headlines we see, especially in tabloid journals, constantly bombard us with tragedy after tragedy.

I’m not having a go at the journalistic world here, as I know they are entitled to make a living and they will say that this is the type of news most people want to read (that’s why they sell!).

The point I am making here is that too much negative news is a huge drain on our energies and our bodies aren’t designed at an evolutionary level to absorb all this tragic news. Not my circus not my monkeys might be a useful psychological tool to engage.

At a simpler level, what they used to say long ago – ‘What we don’t know about doesn’t bother us’.

Next week I am going to write about — Why ‘Now’ Works

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