Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.
There are many things in life that we find irritating. For me, one of the most irritating is people who drive on the freeway considerably slower than the speed limit (when there is no cause).
For you, it might be receiving my text message every morning (in which case please tell me and I will stop😊)
Understanding why things are irritating is an interesting journey. So let’s take my irritant for a moment. If I am driving on the freeway, I am intent on getting somewhere by a specific time. I value punctuality and I also value efficiency. So when I encounter a person going 50 miles an hour in the fast lane when there is no one in front of them that precludes them from going the 65 mph speed limit, I am instantly irritated. My irritation may or may not be warranted depending upon your life view or perspective.
That is the key sentence… our irritation is teaching us about ourselves. In my world someone should understand the overall rules so that they are playing fair in accordance with the collectively agreed-upon rules of the road. If they were to break from those rules, and thereby inconvenience me in the process, I feel that they are being unfair. But every circumstance has two sides, no matter how thin you slice it.
For example, they might be processing any one of a thousand types of bad news, leaving them in a numb state of confusion. Perhaps they are just barely holding on, and I come up behind them and in my myopic arrogance, I let them know how irritating their choice of driving slow truly is.
When I am able to compartmentalize my irritation, I am more able to see my own inefficiency and perhaps lack of compassion that is driving my uncalled for response.
Conversely, by negating the benefit of the doubt, at face value there is somebody driving 15 mph slower than the speed limit in a lane that is reserved for the most expeditious traffic. Without benefit of doubt or compassion, my perspective is that my efficiency is being thwarted by someone who is not playing by the rules. Through that perspective, I feel that I am justified in my irritation and I am apparently more than willing to share that irritation via the horn on my steering wheel.
I picked the driving example because all of us have been behind such a vehicle at one point or another. I recognize that some of us are better than others at processing this experience. I can’t recall my father ever honking at somebody on the freeway. But I can recall numerous times that others honked at him and times that I, as his unruly teenage passenger, would remind him of such. So if irritation is teaching us about ourselves, then we are well served to try and understand the roots of that irritation and, at a minimum, decide whether or not that irritation needs to stay fully present in our overall existence.
Some people are able to take circumstances like this and make a complete life change. I am not one of those people. I do try. Some days I really succeed at being considerably more patient and understanding. Other days, not so much.
I broke all of this down this morning because a deeper understanding of the things that cause us frustration can only help us to ultimately achieve a form of stasis in our lives that can enrich and empower us in ways that we may yet be capable of imagining.
There are so many irritating things to choose from. I would invite you to contemplate for a second, one of the most irritating things on your list of pet peeves and ask yourself why is this so irritating? If you go deep enough down the rabbit hole, I am willing to wager that you will find a deeper truth about who you are and what your value systems are. Even if it never cures you of being irritated by that particular stimuli, at a minimum you may come to a greater understanding and as a direct consequence, evolve just a little bit further in the process.
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