Not. My. Monkeys.

I have opinions.

(I’ll wait for everyone that knows me to stop laughing….)

I tend not to be terribly shy about sharing said opinions.

(Again, another pause for the audience to catch their breath….)

I recently read an article that discussed how the Dutch are somewhat more “brutally honest” when it comes to opinions, and are often puzzled when people don’t accept and understand that they’re offered with the best of intentions. My Dutch heritage apparently runs deeper than I thought.

Of late, though, I’m trying to take a different approach when I react and want to share something I think important. And a simple phrase is helping.

Not my circus, not my monkeys.
– Polish Proverb (nie mój cyrk, nie moje małpy)

Whenever I’m about to react, I bring that phrase — or just “not my monkeys” — to mind. It’s a shorthand to remind myself that whatever it is I’m considering reacting to is very likely (as in almost certainly) out of my control.

Will my opinion have a positive impact? Will it change anything? Really? Am I even qualified to have an opinion on whatever it is?

If the answer to any of those is no, then … “not my monkeys”. My opinion is best kept to myself.

Realizing that something is out of my control and saying nothing is actually less stressful than saying something and getting frustrated at my well-meaning words lack of acceptance or impact.

I suspect I may not be the only one for whom this might be true.

2 thoughts on “Not. My. Monkeys.”

  1. My idea is if you fight every possible battle you will lose the war. You must decide if what you are about to say or do is worth it. My additional advice along the same vein , If the individual is not worth killing then you should not fight them. Of course this is not to be taken literally It means if you are tempted to argue with your wife husband boss etc Stop and think will this battle be worth fighting ? If not pull back and say your right, I”m sorry and live to fight a battle worth fighting over. Or it may be my monkey but!

  2. Not just the Dutch!
    My family escaped from Europe in late 1938/9. We have very much the same attitude toward the importance of opinion and discretion. Thank you for a familiar, and very useful voice.

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