How many you have usually depends on your temperament. Some people have a short list of things that annoy them, while others get pissed off at everything under the sun. It can also be influenced by outside factors, like how much stress is in your life, general or mental health issues, or even medications we take. I’m finishing a 10 day antibiotic for a sinus infection now, and I can tell that the side effect of anxiety has been working on me as my patience for tomfoolery and shenanagins has been much shorter since I got sick and have been on the recovery process. The purpose of this entry isn’t how to discern which is which. It’s to provide guidance on how to deal when those aggravations push your buttons.
The first thing to do is be aware of your emotions. This requires that you know yourself. If you don’t or are having a crisis of identity, this is the perfect time to work it out. What’s really at the root of your anger? “The straw that broke the camel’s back” is a saying for a reason: because it’s usually not the big stressors in life that throw us over the edge, but the little irritations that have the nerve to show their face in the wake of it. I snapped one time over my foot hurting. Another time, I exploded over wrist pain. The pain wasn’t really that bad in either case. Both times, they were nothing more than minor irritants. The problem was that each happened to bother me while I was going through major family and work issues while working on major writing projects that I was fighting to keep on track while the rest of life was going insane. Unfortunately, we usually don’t stop for a self evaluation until we make an idiot out of ourselves over something that really isn’t worth it. Don’t wait until you’ve already snapped to take that “mental health day.” Be honest with yourself and when you note that the tension is rising, take care of it sooner rather than later. And yes, by the way, it is completely acceptable to drop out and take a sick day once in a while if you fear you’re getting to the point where you can’t deal with society in a civilized way. Better to miss out than to destroy reputation, relationships, and trust that you’ve spent time building.
Be aware of your physical state. Are you sick? Do you suspect you’re getting sick? Are there health issues that you know you need to attend to, but you haven’t because of time, money, or whatever else? Well, “whatever else” isn’t worth it. You’re no good to anybody if you aren’t at your best, so take care of yourself. Go to the doctor. Fill the prescription – and take it! If it’s a mental health issue, don’t be ashamed of it. You don’t have to advertise it (or even a physical illness, if it isn’t readily apparent) to the world, especially if you’re taking action to correct it. Think of it this way: you wouldn’t hesitate to take a decongestant or antacid to help you feel better, so why hesitate to take something to make your mind feel better?
And yes, I put mental health under the physical state on purpose, because your mind is as much a part of your body as every other part, and it deserves the same care, concern, and respect as everything else. Besides, how we feel in our mind has a tremendous impact on how our body functions. Think well, be well. The key to healing anything is to focus on being well.
Put it in perspective. I’ve noticed a disturbing epidemic of quitting in the past decade or so. People are far too willing to walk away from things, and then don’t understand why the same old issues or types of people keep coming back into their lives. I believe this is because people don’t take time to become aware of reality. The truth is that the Lord is going to allow some aggravations into your life to rub off your rough edges. If you run away without learning the lesson, it will find you again.
True story: I’ve personally known two people that quit jobs the liked because they couldn’t stand their supervisor, and in both cases the supervisor left within a year of them quitting. If
they hung in there for a few more months, the problem would have solved itself without them having to leave a job they liked and go through the adjustment of a new job, just to get away from one person they thought they couldn’t live with.
I endorse patience for so many things because it really is the most unpopular cure-all in the world. Put things in perspective. Is this irritation big enough to throw everything attached to it away? It very likely isn’t. That’s not to say you shouldn’t take an opportunity. If your breakthrough dream comes tomorrow, you should run like Tyrion Lannister fleeing Kings Landing after he shot Tywin with a crossbow. Likewise, if you can do something to eliminate or reduce it without other consequences, then by all means do something about it. Don't keep a problem in your life just to have something to complain about. For those other unmovable objects, you need to take stock of how big a part of the whole this is. If your entire life is misery and frustration, then it may be time to walk away. If it’s what design professionals refer to as “incidental” (meaning a small part) or temporary, then you could be sacrificing too much for too little – or setting yourself up for worse in the future by leaving.
Here’s another true story: one of my former supervisors had the job I have now, and she told me that it was the best job she ever had, and sometimes she wished she hadn’t left it to move up the ladder. I never forgot that, because I see how it’s true. Remembering that has helped me put a great deal in perspective over the past 16 years –and not only with my job, but with all manner of other things in my life.
Remember reality. I remember hearing a preacher talk about people and things that annoy you on television about ten years ago. They said “you can get rid of it, and two more just like it will come into your life.” I’ve heard that repeated many times in the past decade, and I’ve seen it’s true. On rare, unpleasant occasions, the replacement irritant is firmly in place before the old one is gone. That happened to me once, and I thought it was grossly unfair! Such is life. So there I learned that any break from aggravations is a blessing, because they always come back.
There is no cure-all for aggravations because they really are universal. Fortunately, we don’t have to be held captive to them, and breaking their foothold in our lives is easier than many of us realize.
That’s all today. Take care, and have a great week.