She Gets It Blog

by AmyK

The Dishwasher & My Ego

communicating to connect communication emotional intelligence mindset shifts self-leadership Mar 11, 2024

Dear SGI Goddess,

I want to share a true tale from my own mental shenanigans about the age-old battle of the dish pit …

you know, that place where soap suds and stubborn grease reign supreme, and resentment can flare faster than you can say "another dirty plate."

It's this unique place where the seemingly mundane task of washing dishes can become a battleground for our egos, as I discovered one fateful evening about a decade ago.

Perhaps you will relate?

Picture this:

It was a typical night after a very large social gathering, and I found myself knee-deep in a mountain of dishes. The sink was overflowing, and I was starting to feel like Sisyphus rolling that darn boulder up the hill because every time I neared the bottom of the stack, more dirty plates and glasses would arrive.

Just as I was about to wash the very last crumb off the very last plate [as in: three plus hours of wash-rinse-repeat], someone strolls into the kitchen and magnanimously offers to wash the last dish.

Now, you'd think I'd be overjoyed at the prospect of having some much-needed backup.

You think wrong.

Instead of appreciating their kind offer of help, I found myself bristling with resentment. After all, I'd been washing dishes for hours, and now someone wanted to swoop in and claim the glory for the final pan?

Not on my watch.

In that moment, my reaction was purely ego-centered.

I couldn't see past my own pride and sense of ownership over the task at hand. It felt like a personal affront to my dishwashing prowess, and I wasn't about to let someone else steal my thunder by being able to say, “We did the dishes!”

Can you say martyr?!

Try it with me …

I’ll sound it out for you: A-m-y-K. 😉

Later that night, when I put my feet up, I realized that my resentment was entirely self-inflicted – a product of my own ego. After all, what did it matter who got credit for washing the dishes? And, why hadn’t I asked for help earlier? Or, communicated that I needed/expected more help prior to the event itself?

The whole thing was ego created – from not asking for help earlier, to not accepting help when it was offered, to thinking to myself, How dare you offer help in the eleventh hour.

As the realization of my ego-created experience washed over me (pun intended), I felt a sense of liberation. Suddenly, it didn't matter “who did how many dishes” or who “got the credit,” but what did matter was:

1) using my voice earlier to set expectations so we could all show up as a unified team - helping each other out – a lesson that transcends the confines of the kitchen sink. And our ego.

2) choosing my attitude about how I was going to show up whether someone offered to help or not,

3) moving from beliefs created by Ego -- my identity & worth is only measured in full-credit martyrdom -- to beliefs created by Heart – my identity & worth has nothing to do with this task and what percentage of it I do.

4) realizing that the ‘suffering from frustration and resentment’ was created and experienced solely by me.

In that seminal and sudsy moment, I understood the power of shifting from ego-centered to heart-centered thinking. When we let go of our need for self-righteous indignation, recognition and validation, we open ourselves up to a world of possibilities. We become more compassionate, more generous, and more willing to ask for and lend a helping hand.

We also become more grateful. The thought, How blessed we are to have a night filled with loving friends and family creates an energetic state of being very different than one focused on dishes.

The next time you find yourself filled with resentment leaning toward martyrdom, I invite you to ask yourself:

  • How might I have contributed to this scenario?
  • What might I say or do now to reduce my resentment and lead with a lighter heart?
  • What will I say or do differently going forward [and earlier] so this scenario doesn’t happen again?
  • How might I choose and focus on a new thought right now that gets me closer to gratitude and love?

As I know you know, it’s not about the dishes.

It’s about using your voice.

Using your voice externally with others to set expectations and boundaries, and internally with yourself to recognize when your own Ego gets in the way of your inner peace and equilibrium.

To sharing the suds.




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