Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Straw That Broke The Camel's Back

There is a phrase 'the straw that broke the camel's back' referring to the one small thing that pushed too far too many times.

From Wikipedia: "The idiom the straw that broke the camel's back is from an Arabic proverb about how a camel is loaded beyond its capacity to move or stand. This is a reference to any process by which cataclysmic failure (a broken back) is achieved by a seemingly inconsequential addition, a single straw. This also gives rise to the phrase "the last/final straw", used when something is deemed to be the last in a line of unacceptable occurrences. [In] Charles Dickens's Dombey and Son, where he says "As the last straw breaks the laden camel's back", meaning that there is a limit to everyone's endurance, or everyone has his breaking point."

I bring up this phrase because there are a few people that have reached that point with me. They have put too many straws in our relationship. Now when there are seemingly inconsequential things that shouldn't be that big a deal, they are a big deal- the point is that there are too many.

It gets to the point that a comment or gesture they do, that from anyone else would be fine, is too much from them. It's easy to take what they say and do the wrong way because they've been wrong so many times.

Another expression that goes with this thought- 'fool  me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me'.

When you have to deal with someone on a consistent basis, you have to find a way to deal well with them. But where is the line between you feeling uncomfortable verses you telling them something is wrong and them feeling uncomfortable?

Something I've been thinking about with one person in my life in particular is to readjust my attitude towards that person. I need to try and not read too much into what the person says or does. Yes, they have pushed it too far. Do they realize? Maybe, maybe not. Do they care? Probably. But are they willing to change? No.

Some people are like a wind tunnel, you say something to them and it floats in one ear and straight out the other without sticking. It feels like hitting your head with a hammer when trying to teach them something that would help.

It's really, really hard to do, but anger management is a powerful tool. When someone gets you riled up, especially in person, if you can take ten seconds to breathe deep and get your control back before you speak, then you will be the better off for it.

"Before you say an angry word, remember you'll regret it, for once it's said the harm is done, and some folks won't forget it." -Marilyn Adams

It helps to have someone to vent to. I have a couple people that are very close to me that I can vent to. They don't judge me because they understand what I'm going through, usually because they are going through the same thing with the same person. These people are safe people for me.

Next time the breaking straw is placed, take ten seconds and breathe, then vent to your safe person.


  1. Yes... I know what you mean. It really does help to have someone who'll let you vent, because sometimes all you need is to have someone tell you, "You're right, that sucks." Then it's easier to go back and deal with it.

  2. That's very true! When you're dealing with something and someone says, "Don't worry, it will get better," you want to ask them how in the world they would know that. Sometimes the best thing you can say to someone is to validate their emotions and say, "You're right, that sucks."