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Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys!

Confessions of a Recovering Perfectionist People Pleaser.

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To say a lot changed this past pandemic year is the biggest understatement of all time! This past year tried to kick us all in the proverbial behind, but I refuse to allow 2020 to win.  One year ago, I was on the verge of launching my speaking career.  I did a virtual interview with a doctor in San Francisco, posted weekly Facebook Friday Live talks, published some articles, created an on-line course, and even did a Ted Talk audition.  It strongly felt like things were on the cusp to truly take off.  Then 2020 happened to the tune of a worldwide pandemic, a suicide of a loved one, and a breast cancer scare.  Many other people had it so much worse, but I slowly pulled away from social media as well as my quest for a speaking and writing career.  My world turned upside down and everything changed.  I changed.  But change isn’t necessarily a bad thing. 

I realized I still very much struggle with being a perfectionist and a people pleaser, caring way too much what other people think.  A people pleaser and a perfectionist, per my research, is someone who feels responsible for the happiness and needs of others.  They put other people’s needs ahead of their own.  My research hit me hard, for it further revealed people-pleasing and perfectionism are efforts to prove your worth.  The underlying commonality with both is fear, fear that you’re not good enough.  A fear I honestly thought I conquered, overcome and beat, but clearly had not. 

This past year the entire world learned how fragile and precious life is.  This humbling 2020 process caused me to take a personal inventory and to get real about some hard truths about myself, truths I decided to change. Well, I am older and wiser, so I shall rephrase that claim.  These things I’m still working hard on and committed to change! I thought I was over this fear of not being good enough, but as we enter the start of a new year, I’ve adopted the old polish expression, “Not my circus, not my monkeys!”

If there’s one thing I learned from my very first blog post back on July 1, 2017, is that no matter what I’m going through, there always seems to be someone else out there who can relate in some way.  My intention from the very beginning was to help others while I figure out my own mess.  So, here we are.  We are at the end of this 2020 life changing year and now is the time for letting go.  Let go of other people’s opinions.  Let go of trying to be perfect.  Let go of trying to control what is not ours to control!  “Not my circus, not my monkeys,” is a way of saying, “Don’t drag me into your drama and your issues. I’m not getting involved.”  Here are the three things my monkey freeing self has learned during this process:

Let go of the need for everyone to like you.

Other people’s opinion of you is none of your business. Let me repeat this; it is none of your business! Focus on what Jesus thinks, and on Jesus alone.  Earlier this year I allowed one negative review to get to me.  I cared entirely way too much about what one angry bitter person wrote about me and my book.  I tried very hard to ignore it but it honestly bothered me.  This year I learned that their opinion of me is, quite frankly, none of my business!  “Not my circus, not my monkey!” Can I get an Amen up in here?

Fight the comparison urge.

I’m guilty!  I am guilty of watching what other people were doing in the space I want to be in, comparing myself with the work they were doing, and falling short every time.  The more I stepped away from social media the more I started to watch other people, and the worse I felt about my own journey, feeling my dream slip further away.  Teddy Roosevelt said that comparison is the thief of joy. God has us all on our own life’s journey.  This year I learned that we are all on our own journey in this life and we have many lessons to learn.  Some of us will learn in a simple way.  Hold on, and enjoy the ride, as God will show you who you really are. This year I realized the world doesn’t need a copy of someone else.  I can only be a true genuine authentic version of me!

Don’t let perfect get in the way of awesome!

I recommitted to a “work-in-progress” mentality.  No one is perfect, especially yours truly.  Covid may have knocked you back a few steps and knocked your scale up a few pounds.  If you’re a fellow stress eater, you are feeling me on this one, especially if you also worry about what other people think.  I had to recalibrate.  When my own monkey brain started with the internal negative self-talk, it was time.  Time to realize I’m not perfect but time to realize I’m still pretty awesome.  Now any time that little loud-mouthed negative monkey starts chattering away, I repeat over and over again to myself, “Not my circus, not my monkey!”

Karim Seddiki said, “Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.”  Who knows what the new year has in store for any of us. Every day I’m trusting God to guide my steps and lead me down the right path.  My dreams are still very much alive but I’ve turned my doubts and the whole process over to God to show me the way.  I pray for the wisdom to continue to turn the crazy circus monkeys over to Him and to not try to control things that are not mine to control. Just remember what Winnie the Pooh’s Christopher Robin said, “You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”  

“Sell crazy someplace else, we’re all stocked up here.”
― Melvin Udall played by Jack Nicholson in AS GOOD AS IT GETS.

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