The Cockroach Theory For Self Development are those who adamantly believe that it’s how we respond to a situation that matters most. I don’t know if that is always the case, but in some circumstances, it makes perfect sense.


Epictetus once said, “it’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.”  In most every day type situations, that is certainly the case. If for example a co-worker snubs us in the hallway, getting aggressive and hostile as a response would certainly be out of line.  If  lets say we get a coffee stain on our shirt, thrashing about in a rage would be an extreme over reaction. So in general, for a lot of things, it is indeed how we respond that seems to matter most.  Take this story for example…

The Cockroach Theory for Self Development

At a restaurant, a cockroach suddenly flew from somewhere and sat on a lady. She started screaming out of fear.

With a panic-stricken face and trembling voice, she started jumping, with both her hands, desperately trying to get rid of the cockroach.

Her reaction was contagious, as everyone in her group also got panicky.

The lady finally managed to push the cockroach away but …it landed on another lady in the group.

Now, it was the turn of the other lady in the group to continue the drama.

The waiter rushed forward to their rescue.

In the relay of throwing the cockroach, it next fell upon the waiter.
The waiter stood firm, composed himself and observed the behavior of the cockroach on his shirt.

When he was confident enough, he grabbed it with his fingers and threw it out of the restaurant.

Sipping my coffee and watching the amusement, the antenna of my mind picked up a few thoughts and started wondering, was the cockroach responsible for their histrionic behavior?

If so, then why was the waiter not disturbed? He handled it near to perfection, without any chaos.

It is not the cockroach, but the inability of those people to handle the disturbance caused by the cockroach, that disturbed the ladies.

I realized that it is not the shouting of my father or my boss or my wife that disturbs me, but it’s my inability to handle the disturbances caused by their shouting that disturbs me.

It’s not the traffic jams on the road that disturbs me, but my inability to handle the disturbance caused by the traffic jam that disturbs me.

More than the problem, it’s my reaction to the problem that creates chaos in my life.

Lessons learnt from the story:
I understood I should not react in life — I should always respond.
The women reacted, whereas the waiter responded.
Reactions are always instinctive, whereas responses are well thought out.
A beautiful way to understand life

The happy person is not happy because everything is right in his life — he is happy because his attitude towards everything in his life is right!

Source: Michael Chauya /Facebook

The waiter remained calm and didn’t allow himself to be caught up in the hysteria — thus, he took control of the situation and calmly solved the problem. We would all benefit from this mindful approach to life — to when ever its is possible, remain calm and consider our reactions first. If we rationalize the problem/situation and realize that in perspective, its really not all that significant, we can react/respond in a well thought out manner.

Anger or hostility are very toxic and too often, we let ourselves be dragged into negativity by reacting in a manner that causes all concerned to become agitated. Calm, cool and rational is the better way to handle as many situations as we possibly can.

“Any fact facing us is not as important as our attitude toward it, for that determines our success or failure. The way you think about a fact may defeat you before you ever do anything about it. You are overcome by the fact because you think you are.”  – Norman Vincent Peale