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An Important Thing To Know About Dealing with Annoying People

 

Swan

When someone is harsh, I notice an immediate tendency to move away.  This shows how easily I’m captured by self-clinging, more concerned about myself than the other.

That doesn’t mean I’m judging myself.  I understand how deeply entrenched these patterns can be. Nevertheless, I would like to train myself not to close down my heart so quickly.  A harsh person may be hurting and especially need love.

How to Become Imperturbable

Instead of seeing “offensive” people as an irritant, we can decide to see them as our best friend.  By pushing our buttons, they’re giving us a chance to practice patience, love, and forgiveness.  These are indispensable qualities to develop if we are serious about realizing our full potential as a human being in this life.

How can we develop the strength to respond differently when we feel irritated, annoyed, uncomfortable, or irked by another person’s behavior or speech?  It’s not necessarily easy, but here are some of the steps I’m practicing myself.

1.  Understanding comes first.

No one really wants to be a thorn in your side.  Their annoying habits were probably born from their own early hurts and pain.

Just like you, everyone wants to be happy and to avoid suffering at all costs.  But wishes aside, we tend to stumble confusedly around, engaging in habitual behavior that just makes it all the worse.  So see the person as another you, who just wants to be happy, but doesn’t know how.

2.  Get centered.

Is your mind floating around out there, involved in all the hectic activity of the day?  If so, it’s probably primed to react with emotions and projections at the least offense.

Bring your mind home to the present moment.  Then center yourself in your body and breath.  This is where your clarity and power lie.  Here’s how to get your feet firmly planted on the ground.

3. Create some breathing room.

Imagine a protective field of space, light, or love surrounding your being, and providing comfort, latitude, and clarity.  This spacious field protects you not just from the negative energy of others, but from your own tendency to react without a thought.  It’s that place between stimulus and response where you have a chance to respond in a new and different way.

4. Cultivate compassion.

Now that you understand theoretically, try putting yourself in this particular person’s shoes.  When you look at things from their perspective, you might have a very different view.  Your love and acceptance could make a big  difference in their life.  Learn more in my series on Cultivating Genuine Compassion.

Or, you might want to try these Three Little Tricks to Deal with People Who Offend You.

The important thing to know about annoying people is that they’re actually your best friend.  When Atisha, the great Indian sage, traveled to Tibet, he took along his ill-tempered Bengali cook. Why?  It guaranteed his opportunity to practice patience without a break.  Atisha advised,

“Do not get angry with those that harm you.
If you get angry with those who harm you,
When are you going to cultivate patience?

Does that mean you should be a doormat and accept abuse?  Of course not!  Use common sense and intelligence.

Now we can’t go from aversion to being Mother Teresa in one fell-swoop.  Until we develop a forceful patience, we may need to gently walk away from annoyance, and send our blessings invisibly.

How do you cope with people with annoy or irritate you?

I’m happy you’re here! If you liked this article, please consider subscribing for free updates by email.  And sharing rocks!  With love, Sandra

 

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20 Comments

  1. Recently I found myself wondering why some people really annoyed me, while others who were equally rude don’t bother me at all. I came to the conclusion that when someone annoys me I need to take a good look within. Usually there is an unresolved hurt or fear that somehow gets triggered by those I perceive as annoying. I figure if that dealing with the stuff in me should help me deal with the annoyance. At least that’s the theory!! That being said I still find myself instinctively withdrawing from annoying people *sigh.*

    • Hi Sharon,

      I think there’s something to your theory and it’s a good one to experiment with. Definitely a good “number 5″ for my list. It’s a huge leap just to see and realize this!

      As you point out, these habits are on a very deep, instinctive level. It’s going to take quite a bit of time to switch them around and feel a grounded spaciousness that’s not disturbed by much of anything or has the wisdom to quietly walk away.

  2. I am with Sharon, when someone really annoys me- maybe more of an irritation i look within and ask what’s going on here. I have become more conscious of this as i have become more aware. I also use this if i find myself in judgement mode!

    Being able to be accepting I think is also important especially for me when i think why don’t they…….

    • This is such a good point, Suzie, that I missed entirely. Thanks for sharing your wisdom and underlining Sharon’s contribution.

  3. Hi Sandra…How well you have described such pests who annoy, sometimes just for feeding their own ego!
    There was a time when I got perturbed by annoying people, analyzing my actions, wondering whether I provoked them, expending my energy in a useless manner. Now I just draw into my shell, try to ignore them, hoping they will learn with time and experience. I completely agree with you, they deserve compassion! I have a firm conviction that those who harm others have to surely face their evil actions in this life only. ‘God sees the truth but waits’!
    Love this post, Sandra. Love you!

    • Dear Balroop,

      I love how you have perspective, don’t waste your time, and allow yourself to be bigger than the annoyance. That’s an interesting aphorism, which points to the fact that we reap what we sow. I’m happy this post resonated for you. Much love to you too!

  4. jean sampson

    Hey, Sandra, yes, I also find myself withdrawing, but after that I think, “I wonder what is going on in that person’s life that they are grumpy or mean,” or whatever it is that they are acting out. It gives me space to see them as someone who IS NOT whatever quality they are displaying at the moment, but is a good human being who is reacting to some sort of distress either in their present life or in their past. It has taken a lot of training for me to see people this way, and sometimes I REALLY have to remind myself to look at them this way and not just react and withdraw and stay withdrawn. I really do have to make a conscious choice to see someone this way!

    • Hi Jean,

      This is so smart to see a difference between the person and their behavior! I understand it takes a huge amount of self-training to get to this point. You are clearly very self-aware and I admire all you’re positively intentioned work. The more that I “know” you, the more I see your wisdom shine.

  5. I’ve only figured out this year, that it’s almost never personal. And with that as my assumption, always, it’s been a lot easier to try to understand and help people, rather than pushing them away or being on the defensive.

    • Excellent! That’s a huge leap forward. I’m so happy for you. And, this is a great perspective we can all takeaway from your comment.

  6. Hi Sandra, it was so good to see this post today. During breakfast the person closest to me made an annoying comment about me. It hurts too much! But now, I feel better after reading your post. thanks,

    • I’m so sorry you felt hurt this morning. Ouch! I’m glad you feel better now. Thanks for letting us know. Wishing you the best.

  7. “The Most Important Thing To Know About Dealing with Annoying People”, is that behind each one there’s someone even MORE annoying waiting their turn for a shot at you.

    My main coping mechanism is humor. My impatience is a longstanding character flaw enforced by habit, but if I can find something to laugh at in my own easily-triggered frustration – I will! I’m getting better at it with practice, and I get a lot of practice, what with all these annoying people…;)

    Your approach to the problem is truly lovely, even if it isn’t quite as funny. I shall try to emulate more of it.

  8. I think humor goes a long way in dealing with challenging people. Patience is not exactly my forte either. I really have to work on it, but I recognize it’s value and these are some of the ways I approach it. I like your approach too. And you never know, you might find some goodness behind or underneath all that annoyance. Sorry, if that sounds annoying. 🙂

  9. In my opinion the comments others have made above have integrity. They point me back to how Don Miguel Ruiz summarises the second and third of ‘The Four Agreements’:

    Agreement 2 – Don’t take anything personally – Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.

    Agreement 3 – Don’t make assumptions – Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

    I think the most important information one can receive from the feedback of feeling annoyed by what someone else or does can be the fact that if you were not seeking to control their thoughts, words or actions then you would not be choosing to feel annoyed.

    • Hi timethief,

      These agreements from Don Miguel Ruiz are very powerful. Thank you for sharing them with us. It’s so true that we often want things to be different than they are and that tends to bring suffering our way. I don’t find it entirely easy to abide by these agreements, but this is my aspiration.

  10. “By pushing our buttons, they’re giving us a chance to practice patience, love, and forgiveness.” <– I love this. There are definitely times when I let myself be annoyed by what someone did, but I'm doing my best to be more mindful of how I choose to react. Practicing patience and understanding has helped a lot. Thanks for sharing, Sandra!

    • You’re welcome, Kim. So glad this resonated for you. I’m impressed that you are working so mindfully with your reactions. That’s wonderful!

  11. Well, I’m lucky enough to work at home at the moment, so when people start to annoy me, I just shut the computer. I can just barely hear them in there, banging on the lid to get out. 😛

    Seriously, though, I long since stopped thinking of people as simply annoying, and started trying to see the hurt and damage that is motivating their behavior. I think that everyone is doing the best they can from where they currently are on their spiritual path, and sometimes letting them be annoying is a gift to them, because they’re learning from that as well.

    With that said, though, I think it’s perfectly fine to distance yourself from negative or draining people, if it’s apparent that they’re not at a place to accept assistance or comfort from you. I would rather spend my time with positive people, generally speaking, who help lift my own vibration.

    • Hi Jennifer,

      I really touched by how you look beyond the annoyance to see the hurt and damage that is motivating someone’s irritating behavior. You have a big heart.

      I agree, sometimes we just need to distance ourselves. I would like to get to the point where my vibration is fine on it’s own and not easily influenced by others. In the meantime, a little space is sometimes the perfect medicine.

      Cute story about the computer!

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