Everyone experiences messes and difficult problems in their lives, but if you are one who suppresses emotions or chooses to ignore your personal ‘messes’, I have a theory of what will happen to you in time. Fair warning, the theory is not necessarily pretty.


You should be aware of this from your own life experiences; things rarely fix themselves without your intervention. For example, my engine light went on the other day in my truck and so I took it to the mechanic. He ran the issues through the computer and it said something was wrong with the solenoid which is somehow related the transmission. He dropped the plate and noticed metal shavings in the transmission fluid. Aha, there is a problem in the transmission. He took the shavings out and put everything back together. When he tested the car, everything was running fine. After checking the computer again, no engine light came on. The vehicle had reset itself.

You wouldn't drive your car much when your check engine light turns on - so why do you keep ignoring big problems in your personal life?
Take care of problems in your personal life as quickly as you take care of your car when the engine light comes on – don’t let them go until you need to pay dearly to take care of the messes.


“All fixed?” I asked the mechanic with an unknowing head nod and smile.


“Your engine light came on for a reason and these things do not fix themselves. Often times engine lights come on because something in the engine failed at least three times”, the mechanic replied. “Just because the light is off does not mean that the problem has fixed itself.”


There is an interesting probability of what will happen if we continue to drive through life with the engine light on. You could actually call it a guarantee: the vehicle will break down, eventually. With this guarantee in mind, which circumstance seems to have a higher probability? Will it die peacefully in the driveway with a full trunk of groceries or will it die violently on the highway with a truck full of kids in a wicked rain storm?


With this in mind, let me introduce you to the wisdom of the Ketchup Packet:


When I was a little boy it was a distinct treat to be taken to McDonald’s for a Happy Meal. Back then, it was just a fancy box with a burger and fries. Back in the 1970’s, there were no neat ketchup containers added to Happy Meals, just old-fashioned packets. Even back then I was a creative artist, so instead of ripping and squeezing my ketchup packet as my mom taught me to do, I would skip the ripping and just squeeze the closed packet as hard as I could. You see, I liked to ‘spray paint’ my fries with ketchup instead of dipping them in a neat little pile of tomato sauce. Most of the time my art was quite impressive, but every once and awhile the ketchup would not spray on my fries. Sometimes, when I squeezed too hard and wasn’t watching where I aimed it, the ketchup would spray on my mother, which promptly ended my Happy Meal!

Problems rarely fix themselves and the price of ignoring your mess and dealing with the impending consequence is higher than the price of fixing or addressing the situation in the here and now.

That’s the scary thing about not handling issues or fixing problems immediately. When the inevitable happens and everything does ‘explode’ it will be at an inconvenient time and in the wrong place. In that instance, trying to clean up the mess becomes exponentially more difficult. Problems rarely fix themselves and the price of ignoring your mess and dealing with the impending consequence is higher than the price of fixing or addressing the situation in the here and now. The scary part is you just don’t know where the ketchup is going to go and who it might hit. The more pressure you put on the ketchup packet, the greater the velocity of the explosion, and the more people may be affected because the ketchup will reach farther.


You may have heard the story of the man who comes home from work and kicks his dog every day. He did not kick the dog because the dog was there or because he was a cruel man. He kicked the dog because he was squeezing his ‘ketchup packet’ all day and he chose to ignore his problem rather than address the suppression. Because of this choice, everyday when he comes home, the dog suffers. Your choices to ignore and suppress don’t only affect you negatively, they also affect the people around you.
Stop squeezing your ketchup and ignoring your engine light. Clean up your messes before your messes turn into something even more problematic!


by Ken Doyle