Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Ungrateful Ant

A few days ago I saw an ant crawling on my table. Since I don't want to kill the critters, I picked him up and headed for the back door to put him out. There he could return to his family--empty handed, of course, but still alive to hunt another day. Well, the ungrateful thing bit my finger before I could let loose. I think he bit me several times, because my finger swelled up, turned red, got burning hot and itched like crazy. How's that for gratitude. Now I know, if there's a next time, I won't pick up an ant with my bare hand. I'll put on a glove to protect myself.

Thinking about the incident, I realize the ant probably felt threatened, and did what ants do to protect themselves. Of course there's a big difference between ants and people, but there's a similarity between all living things. They all respond in negative ways when they feel threatened. Perhaps that's why some of the people in my life sometimes act like ants. they seem to get defensive, even hateful, about innocent transactions between us, and then I wonder what ticked them off.

Maybe you have people like that in your life too. Here's what I've learned about dealing with them.
1.    First, look within yourself to see if you, without realizing it, do anything to set them off. If so, work on changing your behavior.
2.    If it's someone you need or want in your life--or have to work with--think about the person and decide how much contact you want, or have to have, with them.
3.    If you want to work on the relationship, choose a fairly peaceful time, and tell them how you feel. It's very important to reassure them you're not a threat. I used this one time when someone resented my presence in a new job and thought I had invaded their territory. We became close co-workers.
4    If the other person still feels threatened in spite of your attempt to bring peace between you and doesn't respond in a positive way, then put on your glove to protect yourself. This can be done in a kind, peaceful way with one statement: You seem upset. I'm sorry you feel that way. I hope you feel better. Then walk away. Threatened people aren't  used to others responding this way, and it may make them think about their behavior.

The above responses may or may not change a threatened ant's behavior, but you'll have your protective glove in case it doesn't. And it will probably work more often than not. We learn from each other, and it's worth the effort.

May you have few ants in your life.


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