Ants in the Kitchen
Does the little stuff get to you?
Are you undone by the little stuff?
A friend of mine who has an extremely visible job and managed multi-million dollar budgets couldn’t get rid of the ants in her kitchen. One day she lamented that she had no problem addressing her boss who was a demanding CEO, but she was undone by the ants in her kitchen.
I suffer from this same problem. I can deal with going to the Emergency Room in the middle of the night, but when figuring out how to fix my leaking toilet seems insurmountable. Slowing down and thinking about a small problem is much harder for me. It’s very helpful to be good in times of emergency but it doesn’t mean that I can’t also be good at dealing with small things.
Surprisingly, I’ve begun to recognize that this is an expression of grandiosity. I think I can and should deal with emergencies, but life’s more mundane problems are not something I should have to do. It’s not necessarily that I think I’m too important to deal with small problems, it’s that I think I’m meant for greater things.
The most powerful tool I’ve found for dealing with the ants in the kitchen is to ask for help. I stop, acknowledge my frustration and then try to think of who might be able to help me handle this small problem. I can ask my neighbor for a recommendation on an exterminator. I can ask a friend what they do when they have an insect invasion, or (for the Zen masters out there) I can decide that ants are no big deal and just get on my life.
I can also learn to acknowledge that I am one among many. It would be fabulous to receive praise for saving a child from a burning building but most of life's problems are far more ordinary. Learning to be an ordinary person dealing with ordinary problems is the stuff life is really made of. Embracing that truth is the key to overcoming ants in the kitchen or whatever bedevils you.