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  • NJ Hypnotist James Malone

Is This Your Monkey?

Not my circus, not my monkeys! I first heard the "not my circus, not my monkeys" saying many years ago from a friend who was from Poland. It's quite funny but also has some real value because learning how to avoid getting sucked into the drama and negativity of others is an important life skill. A skill I might add that has become even more important in our current digital age where there is a near constant immersion in the opinions of others. It's really hard to escape now!

Although this proverb is from Poland, in some ways it's origin is from the Stoic philosophers of ancient Greece. Many people equate being stoic with people who lead hard, austere lives, but that is not really the case. It is actually a school of philosophy that that seeks to help people become more virtuous and authentic. In the modern age, you see it reflected in the famed Serenity Prayer where we seek, "the courage to change the things I can, the serenity to accept the things I cannot change and the wisdom to know the difference."

When it comes to our interactions with others, its easy to fall into the trap of believing that somehow we can control how other people think and feel or that we are in some way responsible for their thoughts and feelings. Not true. While we certainly influence other people to some degree, their responses are ultimately up to them.

An example: I know several people who constantly post rather harsh and divisive political content. When asked how many people they have actually influenced to change their existing viewpoint, I get a blank look. As a professional hypnotist I can tell you change can be challenging for a person even when it's something he or she is choosing. Being badgered into change simply does not work.

The Stoics encouraged their followers to remember that in all aspects of life that there are those situations where have we significant control and influence, but there is much that lies beyond our control. The trick seems to be to focus our attention and energy on what we can control and to let the rest go as best as we can.

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