The friend who keeps posting her political views on Facebook.
A parking ticket.
That email your co-worker cc’d your boss on.
That squabble you had with your significant other.
There are so many little things you encounter on any given day that can really get stuck in your craw. The problem is that one little thing can cast a big shadow and keep you stuck in a puddle of discontent. And life is short—who wants to spend more of it than is absolutely necessary stuck in a puddle of discontent?
Here then are my best tips for letting go of small annoyances:
First, ask yourself this one question. Am I really willing to stink up my mood and my day for something that has nothing to do with me? It can help inspire you to stop dwelling. Whatever the person or situation is doing, it’s not about you. They are not trying to torture you—they are immersed in their own reality.
Then, choose a different way to look at it. There is no one right choice here, the only goal is to try on any point of view that is different from—and a little higher up the emotional scale—“This stinks.” If you’re angry, can you find your way to frustration? If you’re frustrated, can you try on feeling mildly annoyed instead? Other feelings to play with are curious (“What might this be here to teach me?” or “I wonder how this is going to resolve”), accepting (“It is what it is”) and trusting (“I may not know what it is, but I know this is happening for a loving reason”). There is no one right way to feel, the only key is to make a shift, no matter how small.
Go do something that helps you ‘get right.’ It might be a workout, a walk, weeding, listening to music, sitting and listening to the birds or cleaning. It doesn’t matter what it is, only that it makes you feel calmer and more like yourself. If you were going to choose to do a few yoga poses, do five or so sun salutations to work the frustration out of your system, then end with a restorative heart opener—basically, corpse pose with your shoulder blades resting on a rolled-up towel, mat or blanket running that’s running perpendicular to your spine. Opening your physical heart and can encourage your metaphorical heart to open too, so you don’t stay hardened against whoever or whatever is bugging you.
If that doesn’t help, look for the root. If the annoyance is still sticking around, it’s time to do a little investigating because there is something else going on. Maybe the situation is reminding you of a way you felt a lot when you were younger and less powerful. Or, maybe it’s making you think that something you want isn’t available to you. Get out a piece of paper and a pen or open a blank document on your computer and start writing down why you’re bugged. Keep going until you get past that righteous feeling of being wronged and you feel a shift. It will probably feel like relief. Or it may feel like surprise. Whatever the underlying reason is, identifying what it is the very best way to help that feeling transform all on its own into something else.
And, this is a special note for the ladies. In the week before your period starts, your tolerance tanks. So if you’re finding yourself more annoyed than usual, check in with your cycle. The best antidote I know to pre-menstrual crankiness is to spend more time alone. Seriously. Skip the gym class and go for a solo walk, stay in instead of attending the work event or maybe even sleep in the guest bed if you typically have a bed mate. It’s natural for your energy to drop and your attention to turn inward the closer you get to your period, and if you keep going a million miles an hour during this time, your fuse will just get shorter and shorter. Save yourself and the people you spend time with the frustration, and give yourself some space!
Now it’s your turn. What situations trigger annoyance for you and what do you do to deal? Leave a comment or talk to me on Twitter.