There’s a popular phrase that says “Not my monkeys, not my circus.” Lately this makes more sense to me than ever. I’ve been through the gamut lately of losing friends, shoving people away from me, and learning to protect myself when people piss me off.
So here’s my top 10 ways to stay sane and stay the hell out of other people’s circuses.
10. Establish your categories. This is something my best friend in the world, Nicole, taught me. I used to tell her it sounded callous and unfeeling and cold, but now it makes total sense. There are 3 circles in which I keep people. They are labeled “I would take a bullet for you”, “you are a friend”, and “dance monkey dance.” The first is where I put dear close friends and relatives. The second is everyone else. The third is where I put people that I just cannot stand or have shoved out of my life for good. Harsh? Yeah, it is. But it keeps me sane and safe. Circle 3 is not allowed into my life. Period.
9. Know your own personal boundaries. I hold grudges. I get angry over stupid things. I hate when people repeatedly behave in a way that makes me angry or hurt. I know this and recognize it, and take steps when I can to avoid this kind of situation. I have boundaries, and sometimes I have to remember that for my own sanity. And for the sanity of my friends!
8. Make yourself bigger than your world. This one has been floating around the internet lately, but I really like it. The concept is that in your world, little problems seem very large. So you have to make yourself bigger than your own world and think on a larger scale. This makes the big problems seem smaller. It’s all about perspective.
7. Be unapologetic about who you are. I will be the first to admit that I am a bitch. I don’t apologize for it, because it keeps me safe. If you dislike my behavior or the way that I handle things, you probably won’t want to be around me for a long period of time. But I would rather be true to myself than pretend to be something I am not.
6. Don’t waste time on people that present a facade. Sometimes people feel the need to present a facade to you, a mask that they hope you will like. If you recognize this, or if you witness it, walk away. This can be something as simple as someone pretending to always be friendly all the way down to someone presenting a different attitude towards you than they do the people around you. But trust me, it never ends well, and it always leaves you feeling angry. Don’t waste time on these people. I’d rather have someone admit to me that they’ve been an a-hole than try to be perfect!
5. Appreciate the people closest to you. These are the people that are there for you at the drop of a hat. A true blue friend will listen when you need to vent, give advice when you want it (and sometimes when you don’t!), help pick you up when you fall down, and share a good drink when you feel like you are at your wits end. Appreciate these people.
4. Be conscious of your behavior and be attentive. If you go out with friends, don’t spend the evening buried in your phone and paying attention to other things! You should want to spend time with the folks that you are with. Give them the courtesy of not being a google addict all night long. And if YOU see this behavior, call it out!
3. Forgive. I am bad at this one, and I will be the first one to admit it. But sometimes you just have to forgive behavior. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t distance yourself when it is needed, but sometimes you just have to let things go. You should strive to be more forgiving in your life. Be SMART…but forgive.
2. Cut out the cancer. If someone rips your heart out, eff ‘em. It hurts to cut people out of your life, but sometimes you have to recognize when it is worth walking away. If they mock you, berate you, treat you like garbage or outright lie to your face, tell them to take a walk. You don’t need it.
And most importantly, 1. Treat people the way you would want to be treated. This contradicts a few other suggestions listed here, but if you are retrospective about it, this still applies. You can’t be empathic all of the time. Believe me, I’ve tried. And it never ends well. But now I recognize that not all situations are similar. Some friends are worth dealing with the BS, some are not. Some are kind to all, and some are inherent jerks to strangers. But I love them for their unique qualities. No one wants perfection. Perfection is boring, and I am certainly not perfect either!