How To Deal With Feeling Annoyed And Frustrated
I am a pretty calm person, but the minute I get stuck in traffic, I lose my cool. At first, I try to handle the situation by taking a few deep breaths, stretching my legs, taking a sip of water, but then my whole body gets tense. My toes rapidly tap, my hands clench, my teeth grit, and after what seems like an eternity, I freak out, because I spot the cause for this calamity: a car on the side of the road.
It’s easier for me to cope with annoyances if a logical explanation exists. For example, mosquitoes will buzz near my head, because they are attracted to carbon dioxide and moisture. Also, people may smack their mouths while eating, or breathe loudly through their noses. But that’s how some people eat and breathe, and I can’t begrudge them for nourishing their bodies. What I can’t forgive, however, are the events that make no sense to me, like how the car on the side of the road can cause a half-hour delay on the highway. The things that annoy me the most are the unexplainable, and there is a perfectly logical explanation why (thank goodness).
Why We Get Annoyed
The human brain, in all its wisdom, works incessantly to solve problems. It likes harmony. It likes logic. It does not like a cacophony of sound and information. One regular annoyance that the brain struggles with are other people’s phone calls. Doesn’t it drive you crazy when someone else is on the phone? You can be on a bus, in the grocery store, or even in your own home, and the half-heard conversation will annoy you. Our brains desperately want to figure out what’s going on. We want to make sense of the conversation, even subconsciously. We are attuned to listening to the conversations of two or more people in the presence of one another. When we only hear the speech patterns and ideas of one side of the conversation, our brains have mini meltdowns. Even if you try to block it out, the ears can’t help but hear, and the brain can’t help but put the pieces together.
Annoyances are fairly subjective; however, a recent Consumer’s Report nationally represented survey identified common irritants. You’ll see that most occur because of situations that just don’t make sense or that could be prevented. The highest ranking offenses are as such:
· Hidden fees and incomprehensible bills
· Not being able to talk to a human when calling customer service lines
· Paying the same amount for products that has mysteriously shrunk
· Drivers who tailgate
· Dog poop
Age, gender, and upbringing can also alter our perceptions about what is annoying and what is tolerable. However, the human mind typically struggles when…
1. We have expectations (our brain tries to make sense of things and can’t)
2. Situations are uncomfortable or unpleasant
3. We can’t concentrate or tune it out
4. We know the irritating event will end soon but we are unsure when
Don’t Let Annoyance Turn to Anxiety
With all the uncertainty surrounding annoyances, one thing is definite: we cannot change the irksome event, only our reactions to it. We can get into a viscous cycle of negativity when we allow irritation to morph into stress. If you find yourself annoyed easily or often, these emotions could cause real harm to your mental and physical well-being. You could develop symptoms of anxiety—feeling stressed and on edge constantly. You could feel irritable and angry. You may also experience high blood pressure, cardiac issues, and tension headaches. All of these symptoms lead to other dangerous problems, not to mention the fact that you’ve probably been alienating people by your reactions to them.
Being annoyed is normal, but letting annoyance control your life will stunt your personal growth. To develop into a happier and healthier person, you much manage your reactions. You can’t control what other people do, or events that occur because of bad weather or unexpected events, but you can develop tools that help you internally cope with external annoyances.
Step 1: “Check yourself (before you wreck yourself)”.
Ice Cube’s words of wisdom can become a personal mantra. Instead of immediately reacting to the offender, react to yourself. Why are you so irritated? What is the big deal? What can you let go? You may find yourself letting go of smaller annoyances that are of no consequence to the big picture that is your life.
Step 2: Change your perspective.
This is easier said than done. But negative thinking begets negative emotions and actions. A great philosophy exists that describes our past thoughts as turning into our current states of being (we are what we think). Imagine that your present thoughts are turning into your future. Do you want to manifest the negativity of today into the promise of tomorrow? That is not promising. During these moments, practice gratitude exercises or think how much worse the situation could be. My personal mantra is always, everything happens for a reason. Changing your perspective is imperative for personal development.
Step 3: Escape. If you can, leave the offensive situation.
Step 4: Build strategies.
If you can’t leave, find peace through an array of coping mechanisms. Collect tools for your toolbox. Mine are breathing exercises (belly breathing), closing my eyes, praying, singing my favorite songs, and thinking about the birth of my children. Okay, so the last one sounds painful, but nothing compares to those two days. When I think about significance, everything else becomes miniscule.
- Melissa Lavery, M.S.
Consumer Reports magazine: January 2010. (2010). Retrieved March 15, 2015, from http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine-archive/2010/january/shopping/what-bugs-america-most/overview/what-bugs-america-most-ov.htm
Palca, J. (2011, April 25). You Bug Me. Now Science Explains Why. Retrieved March 15, 2015, from http://www.npr.org/2011/05/17/135703137/you-bug-me-now-science-explains-why
Roman, K. (2015, March 11). How To Deal With Annoying People. Retrieved March 15, 2015, from http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-17805/how-to-deal-with-annoying-people.html
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