Not My Monkeys

I realized something about myself recently…

I have a “hero” complex.

Here is a common scenario: someone is experiencing drama, I rush in with my opinion to help them, but I end up feeling as shitty as they do after going around and around the crazy drama wheel.  Here is another scenario: the school sends out a “volunteers needed” email, and I immediately open my calendar to see how I can squeeze in a free moment to help out even though I am already committed somewhere else.

There is always someone in need of rescuing, or a situation needing a warm body to fill in for someone else, and after involving myself and becoming invested in the drama, I feel exhausted, frustrated, and mildly resentful.  I agree to things I don’t really want to agree to, and end up feeling crazy stressed out, tired, and cranky.  And praying that nobody needs me the next day.

Where did this idea that I have to constantly serve others come from?

It is important to help others, but not at the cost of my own health and happiness.  If I’m a sickly, weak, joyless, miserable human being, how will I be able to help anybody anyway?

I need to learn balance and discernment.

I am reading a really great book right now called, “The Art of Heartaculture” by Ellen Solart.  This book challenges the traditional way for making decisions and encourages readers to become their own authority, and take action based on internal factors rather than externally induced “shoulds.”

“Heartaculture is the art of making moment-to-moment, internally motivated choices.  It is the art of continuously attuning to your heart while conducting your work and personal life.” (page 9)

I am 4 chapters into this book, and I am already more aware of the choices I am making in any given moment, and the true reasoning behind my decision-making processes.  It is fantastic, but also very challenging.  Fear, as always, keeps butting-in with its perspective… “People will think you’re a jerk if you don’t volunteer”… “They will think you don’t care about them if you don’t offer to help”… “You’ll be letting someone down, they’ll be so disappointed”… and on and on and on.

Three things I am learning right now:

  1. Don’t agree to those things I don’t want to agree to.  If I’m only agreeing to something because I feel like I should, instead of agreeing because I genuinely want to, I need to politely decline and walk away.  It is better to listen to my heart and be true to myself, than become resentful, cranky, and depressed.
  2. Stop getting involved with other’s crazy drama.  I realize that some shit can’t be fixed except by the one creating it.  I need to stop trying to control everything.  These are not my monkeys, and this is none of my business.
  3. I am not responsible for how someone else chooses to react in any situation.  Their reaction has nothing to do with me, but everything to do with their own internal state.  I can only control my own responses, and am only responsible for my own responses.

It sounds harsh and uncaring, but I can’t keep rushing in to “save” people all the time.  And I shouldn’t.  And deep down in my heart, I don’t want to.  It’s not healthy for anyone.  I am learning that everyone gets to choose their own path, make their own mistakes, and learn their own lessons.  Isn’t that the definition of what it means to be a human?  We are free to decide how we will live every moment of our lives.  We have the power to create hell or heaven here on earth.  With every choice we make, we have the opportunity to learn something new about the ongoing creation of the world and our role in it.

Sometimes, a loved one throws a tantrum, acts immaturely, and treats another human being poorly. – “Not my monkeys.”

Sometimes, a dear friend continually recycles complaints about how their partner is treating them. – “Not my monkeys.”

Sometimes, I agree to fill-in a gap somewhere for someone else before consulting with my heart. – “THESE are my monkeys, and they’re running amok!”


I am learning to be a better human today than I was yesterday, and I am learning to enjoy the process.

Enjoy the process, my friends!

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