Collecting Straws


Photo by Vlad Chețan

My husband is one of those people who knows everything.

Not in a douchey “I’m a know-it-all” kind of way, he’s just got one of those amazing brains which stores an unfathomable amount of stuff. Couple that with an overactive thirst for knowledge and he knows a lot. He’s the kind of guy you want on your team at a pub quiz.

So, the other day, he was doing some reading about various different philosophies relating to anger and he came across the phrase “collecting straws”.

Basically, a person who collects straws goes about their day and if something negative happens, they store it up. Then the next minor thing happens and they store that up. They collect up all these ‘straws’ of anger, until they get to the final one and then they snap (the straw that broke the camels back, if you will). The thing which finally makes them snap is generally something quite minor, but they break under the strain of the weight of all the straws they collected throughout the day. Some people may spend their whole lives collecting straws.

Now, he told me about this and it started ringing some Big Ben sized bells.

I am a straw collector.

And I kid myself that I’m actually a super patient person, that I just lose my rag when something really pushes me, but it’s not true. I’ve lost count of the amount of days I had where I’m absolutely seething by the evening, and can reel off a long list of so-called disasters which have made my day so shitty.

My anger is like one of those huge cardboard cut-outs of a thermometer that they have at fundraising events. You know, the ones where the more money they raise, the more of the thermometer they colour in, until finally the top of the thermometer ‘explodes’ when they reach their target?

That’s me.


Where do I go from here, now I know that I’m a straw collector?

Some self-motivated anger management.

I’ve had people suggest to me that I should count down from ten when I get cross. And you know what? That just makes me want to punch that person. Punch them in the face.

I’ve never actually punched a person in the face.

So how do I go about stopping myself from storing up all the silly little ‘straws’.

I have to say, when I think about it, straw collecting is a family trait. My mum is an avid reader of my blog (Hi Mum) and I think she’ll agree with me when I say that it comes straight from the top. My Nan is the Queen of the Straw Collectors. We really have been taught by the best. My Nan doesn’t just collect straws on a daily basis, she’s been collecting them FOR LIFE! Now don’t get me wrong, I love my Nan a lot, she’s great and has been like a second Mum to me.

But I wish I’d got to her earlier.

I wish I could go back about 40 years and say to her “You know what, Nan? This straw collecting bullshit just isn’t worth it.” I wonder if she’d have been happier in life if she could have just let some of the small stuff go? I wonder if she’d have felt more fulfilled, more content with the way her life turned out?

But it’s too late for my Nan. She’s got a lifetime of straws, all stored up. So, I’ll tell myself, instead. I’ll tell myself, every time I realise that I’m doing it again…CUT IT LOOSE.

A far more profound person than I once wrote

“For every minute you remain angry, you give up sixty seconds of peace of mind.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

That just about sums it up, doesn’t it?

And because I now know all of this, I’m very glad to have a husband who reads so much.

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