• Fiona Hewkin Counselling

Not my Circus, Not my Monkeys! Or Boundaries and How to Set Them

Updated: May 7

Healthy boundaries and how to set them



Not my circus, not my monkeys can sound really rude at first glance. Actually, it’s a great way to describe boundaries.


Ok so we all want to be liked, as humans we have an innate need to be accepted. Trouble starts when the need for acceptance overrides the healthy boundaries we need and messes with our own wellbeing. When we constantly put other people first we are the ones that suffer.



Why are boundaries important?


Boundaries are a sign of self-respect; they are vital to having healthy relationships. They help with a healthy work-life balance and prevent burnout. They are essential to self-care.


What happens when we don’t set healthy boundaries?


If we feel resentful or like we are being taken advantage of, it’s a clear sign we don’t have boundaries. If we don’t have boundaries we can end up at the mercy of others. We might allow others to tell us how to think or what to feel

Always putting people first doesn’t make you a saint, it makes you a martyr



So, what do healthy boundaries look like?


Boundaries can take many forms. We can say “no” or “wait” They can also be really difficult! The first time a friend told me that “no, is a complete sentence” I thought that sounded SO rude.


Here is a list of what healthy boundaries might look like


· I can’t do that right now

· I have a right to my own feelings

· I can’t come but thank you for asking

· I’m uncomfortable discussing this, I’d like to stop

· I won’t be spoken to like this

· Thank you for sharing your advice, I will let you know when I have made a decision

· I can stay for half an hour

· I don’t respond to work emails at weekends

· I appreciate your opinion, but this is my life and my decision

· No thanks,

· No!


What's this got to do with monkeys?


Not my circus, not my monkeys may seem really rude, but just think about it for a moment. If the drama your friend is trying to pull you into isn’t your problem, why go there? Not your circus. If your family member wants you to get into a bitch session about someone else in the family and that leaves you feeling uncomfortable, not your monkeys! One thing I am certain of is that other peoples monkeys are invariably badly behaved. There is no need to invite them in for tea. Give those badly behaved monkeys back!


a monkey with big eyes eating bits of grass








-