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Why Are You So Annoyed? July 29, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Happiness, Life Balance, Mindfulness, People.

Donald-DuckaSometimes we get annoyed at others because they are exhibiting a trait we have not fully integrated and accepted as part of ourselves.

Sometimes.  But not always.

Other times our annoyance is for other reasons entirely:

* I get annoyed (to use a gentle word) with animal abuse, child abuse, and elderly abuse because those actions are morally wrong, not because I share the abuse trait with abusers.

* I get annoyed at bullies and line cutters and liars and cheats and polluters and litterers because I am acting as “unpaid advocate” for the “little guy” whose rights they are trampling.

* I get annoyed when people are late, time and time again, not because I share that trait, but because they are being selfish.  In essence, they are saying that their time is more important than mine.

A flicker of annoyance, standing alone, does not always mean that the object of our annoyance is acting as a mirror for something we need to work on.

Snoopy2As Don noted in The Clowns Around Us, there are those who hijack what could have been genuine heartfelt productive discussions by deflecting, rather than reflecting.

Instead of staying on point, they derail the intended conversation with a joke or off-color remark.

Saying, in essence, “Look at ME!”

I see any number of people who don’t share that trait getting annoyed when someone presses the *disconnect* button on an interesting exchange.

As noted in the comment thread on Don’s post (well worth a read), many of us are starved for genuine conversation and connection in our daily lives.

We long for opportunities to discuss matters of genuine import, to engage in the civilized exchange of ideas, and to offer compassion to those in pain.

So we may feel a flicker of annoyance when someone derails the exchange.

StreetlightA flicker of annoyance (like other emotions) is a signal designed to get our attention so we can choose how to respond to the situation at hand.

Once noted, we must decide whether to take affirmative action or “let it go” and get on with the day.

The third option (stewing in our own juices while doing nothing to change the situation) is almost always a non-productive use of time.

Aah . . . that’s better! 



1. Val Boyko - July 29, 2014

I’ve been thinking more on this as well Nancy. I agree that there is more than seeing those traits in others that we haven’t integrated … although it is an important one to consider as it can bring to light a blind spot!
There’s more to explore … and I’ve got a new post in the making about it too 🙂

nrhatch - July 29, 2014

Don’s post and the comment thread stayed with me too, Val. I look forward to see which direction you steer the discussion.

A quick flicker of annoyance when someone “steps on our toes” can shed light ~> it could be a signal to take action, or be more patient, or practice forgiveness, or . . . what have you. Once we note our annoyance, we can mindfully choose how to respond.

Val Boyko - July 29, 2014

I agree Nancy … there’s that moment when we can pause and be with what is happening. Checking out our inner wisdom and guide.
Val x

nrhatch - July 29, 2014

I have a print of 4 zebras on my wall. They are drinking from a pool of water while facing their reflections.

Beneath, it says: “Pause and Reflect.” 😎

2. Silver in the Barn - July 29, 2014

And there is a fourth option….we can write a post about it! What an interesting topic this is. I’ll pop over to Don’s post and give it a read. Thanks, Nancy, as usual.

nrhatch - July 29, 2014

Yes! I often find that writing a blog post about IT (whatever IT is) alleviates both the initial flicker of annoyance and the need to take further action . . . allowing me to get on with my day.

I’m glad that Don spotlighted the issue and sparked discussion.

3. granny1947 - July 29, 2014

Another very wise post…

nrhatch - July 29, 2014

Thanks, Kathy. As I became more mindful of my thoughts, I grew annoyed (with myself) when I saw a flicker of annoyance arise unbidden. I felt I should be able to accept the “what is” more easily.

And then I realized the value of that flicker as a signal, highlighting areas for improvement (i.e., the need for greater patience) or for further reflection.

4. Don - July 29, 2014

“…because those actions are morally wrong, not because I share the abuse trait with abusers.” This is such an important aspect of the response, Nancy. Thank you again for the mention – much appreciated.

nrhatch - July 29, 2014

Some would say that we should never judge the actions of others. I don’t agree. Judgments allow us to discern our values and moral core, and help us decide how we wish to proceed through life:

* Seeing others embrace “excess materialism” (a judgment) encouraged me to embrace simplicity.

* Seeing factory farms engage in animal abuse (a judgment) encouraged me to eschew meat.

* Seeing hoarders hoarding (a judgment) encouraged me to declutter my own life.

Judgments keep us from making the “mistakes they are making.” Thanks for getting the conversation going, Don. It’s been one I’ve enjoyed.

Don - July 29, 2014

I concur Nancy, I always feel a little uncomfortable with this whole thing of not making judgements. I think when judgements are not made life becomes insipid and wishy washy. There is a difference between sound judgement and being judgemental. When certain forms of judgement are looked upon as being only judgemental, we tend to become little grey people with out any opinions or convictions. This is often my beef with with Neo-Liberalism. I’m liberal, but not a neo-liberal. 🙂

nrhatch - July 29, 2014

I find it helps to separate the action from the actor (initially, at least). That way, I can judge the action, standing alone, without making assumptions about the moral fiber of the actor as a whole.

So, someone who is late ONCE is just late ~> no reason to rush to judgment. If someone is late 14 times in a row, I’ll opine they’re selfish, disorganized, or both. And I’ll probably have a chat with them about my perceptions.

Of course, even if we only judge the act, not the actor, we may still miss the mark:

I see Joe take 4 pieces of pie at the Church Supper, leaving no pie for me. I think, “Wow. Taking 4 pieces of pie is selfish!”

Then Sally tells me that Joe is allergic to “everything,” his mother made that pie so that he would have something to eat at the supper, and it’s the only thing he’s eaten all day. Now, his action seems far less selfish.

Don - July 29, 2014

Thank you for encouraging it to role, Nancy. 🙂

5. katecrimmins - July 29, 2014

I had a friend who would hijack any conversation and revert it to himself or make it funny. Not everything is funny. Sometimes it got annoying because you couldn’t “discuss” things. It was either a marathon joke session or an update on his successes. Happily I haven’t seen him in 20 years. The really odd part is that on the surface he was a really nice guy and it took a while until I got it. During the course of that friendship I often wondered if I was too boring for him. I knew I wasn’t like him at all but perhaps I liked him because he was so different from me. Maybe I got off the track of your message but that’s where it took me. I’ll catch the next train back!

nrhatch - July 29, 2014

I think you are on the right/same track, Kate. That’s where Don started the conversation ~ with jokers who avoid the hard discussions by deflection, rather than reflection.

Having a great sense of humor is a valuable asset in life ~ but there is a time and place for everything.

6. Pix Under the Oaks - July 29, 2014

I agree with Granny 1947.. a wise post Nancy. I can learn something from this post. As I usually do from your posts.

nrhatch - July 29, 2014

Thanks, Pix! We are, all of us, students and teachers. That’s my favorite part of blogging ~> all the different perspectives we can bring to a given situation without having to manipulate or manufacture conversations in the “real world.”

7. Val Boyko - July 29, 2014

There’s such richness here for students and teachers 🙂
– There is value in making judgments to survive and as a guide to life and discerning the world around us.
– There is a difference between what we observe (facts) vs judge (assumptions and inferences)
– Being aware of separating the actor from the action. (A bad hoarder vs a bad behavior of hoarding)
… I’m still with that poor hoarder. My heart goes out to people who have deep inner struggles, yet are condemned because their behaviors appear bizarre and may have a negative impact on others. I also am not comfortable with that tendency in myself and so I am also repelled when I see it in others.

Thank you for continuing the thread!
Val x

nrhatch - July 29, 2014

Some judgments are based on facts, rather than assumptions.

For example, I’ve tried vanilla, coffee, and chocolate ice cream. I like coffee ice cream best. That’s a judgment based on direct personal experience (facts) ~ I tried all 3 and judged coffee to be the best. I’m not assuming or inferring my preference. I know what I prefer.

In contrast, if I decide that Steve is a “jerk” because he doesn’t like coffee ice cream best, that’s a judgment best avoided since it’s not based on observable facts, reasonable suppositions, or supportable assumptions. It’s naked prejudice.

You might be interested in this post:


nrhatch - July 29, 2014

With respect to your comment on people who have deep inner struggles being “condemned” because their behaviors appear bizarre and may have a negative impact on others . . . I’m a bit lost about what you mean.

Perhaps a blog post is in order? 😎

8. lindsaycummingswrites - July 29, 2014

I do agree those are about the only ways to deal with this deflection, an annoyance I have recently encountered. I chose to stew on it for a couple hours- Then eventually had to just let it go. I suppose we can’t control others, like you said, we can only control our reactions!

nrhatch - July 29, 2014

When someone inadvertently “steps on our toes,” it’s often a good idea to just “shrug it off” as part of doing business in the real world. Accidents happen.

If they did it “on purpose” with malice aforethought, it may make sense to “call them on it” and ask that they cease and desist. But ignoring them is also an option. If they intended to upset us, we can choose to NOT give them the satisfaction.

The best “revenge” may be a life well lived. 😎

lindsaycummingswrites - July 29, 2014

I’m pretty good at the ignoring thing! I’m not very good at the calling out thing, at all!
I agree, I’ll just do what I can to stay happy!

nrhatch - July 30, 2014

I suspect that’s our reason for being ~> to be happy and make others happy.

9. colonialist - July 29, 2014

Quite true – only the most unimaginative will become annoyed at faults which they actually share. More often it is ones they consciously avoid and abhor.

nrhatch - July 29, 2014

I can think of a counter example:

I don’t enjoy having someone cut me off mid-sentence by interrupting me . . . but I often interrupt others (especially when I’m excited about what they’re saying). 😛

Most of us are still a Work In Progress. So I focus on progress, not perfection.

10. JOriginal Muse - July 29, 2014

Excellent post and thought-provoking discussion! I am not at peace with myself when forming a judgment against someone based on one action. Therefore, I give them the benefit of the doubt and realize there is more to their perceived selfishness than meets the eye, as in the tendency to hoard, for example.

I start with self-reflection as to a number of material things I’ve had in the past with which I’ve had trouble parting (even though they no longer served a purpose), until I was able to work through the emotional attachments and find unselfish and healthy ways to release them. Although I’ve never been a hoarder, I’ve lived with many and it has been more than a pet-peeve/annoyance for me, when their stuff overflowed into my valuable space.

Now that I own my own space and reap the benefits of an uncluttered lifestyle, I am emotionally removed from hoarders, other than exploring all of the possible ways that I can “help” them realize the psycho/emotional benefits of cleaning up their act.

Blogging is a great outlet, as well as a way to help others reflect. This post is encouraging me to move forward with ideas for blogs and videos that can motivate others towards healthier living in order to move forward with other goals. Thanks, Nancy!

nrhatch - July 29, 2014

Awesome comment, Joanne. If you start posting blogs and videos that motivate others towards healthier living, please share the link with me. The only link I have for you at the moment is to your singing videos.

For me, it depends on the egregiousness of the action. If I saw someone torturing a puppy or a child, I wouldn’t worry about whether I was “judging” them unfairly ~ since my judgment is not as detrimental to them as their actions are to the puppy or child.

In that case, I would report them so they could get help. And I wouldn’t hesitate to apply the label, “abuser.”

In contrast, if X is hoarding stuff in the privacy of X’s own home, that’s X’s business. I would leave it to X (or X’s roommates) to sort out the wheat from the chafe. I wouldn’t see the need to “label” their actions.

But, if I did, I don’t see my judgment as hurting them. Why should they care what I think?

I think rushing to judgment hurts me ~ because, instead of seeing things as they are, I’m viewing the world through a clouded lens. Like Dana Carvey’s, the Church Lady.

JOriginal Muse - July 29, 2014

In total agreement! It reverts back to making a distinction between forming sound judgments about moral issues as opposed to being judgmental.

In the case of moral issues, however, I would say that my emotional barometer would register more on the level of anger than annoyance.

And yes, I would certainly be happy to share any links to motivational videos I do in the future 😉

nrhatch - July 29, 2014

I agree ~ annoyance is the “gentle” word for my reaction to people who trample the rights of others.

I love having discussions like this ~ reminds me of Philosophy courses in college or ethics classes in law school. Black, White, and Shades of Gray.

11. Jill Weatherholt - July 29, 2014

I do my best to overlook annoying behavior, but I draw the line with rude cell phone users. I’ve been known to throw a few dirty looks at those loud talkers who want everyone to hear them speaking.

nrhatch - July 29, 2014

You’re smart to overlook annoying behavior ~ I try to view inane behavior with “detached amusement” whenever possible. :mrgreen:

Some cell phone users are tres inconsiderate as they parlez.

12. CMSmith - July 29, 2014

I wonder how you think up your topics, Nancy. It’s good to take a hard look at ourselves from time to time. You challenge us to do that.

nrhatch - July 29, 2014

Thanks, Christine. Topics come streaming in from events, conversations, movies, experiences, books, activities, etc. I often start a quick draft post to “save the thought” until I have time to write the post.

In this case, Don’s post prompted this post when I questioned whether we should be annoyed at ourselves for having a flicker of annoyance.

13. ericjbaker - July 29, 2014

Do humorous comments after people’s blog posts count as derailing the conversation? If so, I’m in trouble.

nrhatch - July 30, 2014

I can’t speak for other bloggers, but you’re not in trouble with me. You exhibit impeccable taste and innate sensitivity in your comic asides. :mrgreen:

14. diannegray - July 30, 2014

I had a look at Don’s post and found it interesting (particularly the comments). Hubby and I were talking about this kind of thing last night. He would relate anger to quantum physics and the fact that once we focus on a gripe we ‘anchor’ ourselves to that gripe and therefore miss other waves of opportunity that no longer exist because of the ‘observation effect’. Yeah – I had no idea what he was talking about either, but it was a fun conversation 😉

nrhatch - July 30, 2014

He’s right. Once we note our annoyance (or anger), we can choose to take action or let it go. But just hanging on to the gripe, while doing nothing, is pointless and it’s harmful since it clouds our perspective and obscures our view of opportunities that might allow us to move toward affirmative change.

15. bluebee - July 31, 2014

On the flip side, many are not comfortable with heartfelt conversations and probably find it annoying when others want to get into them. Perhaps they use humour as a way to let the other person know that they don’t “want to go there”.

nrhatch - July 31, 2014

I’m not sure exactly what sparked Don’s initial post, BB. Whether it was a cyber discussion or a discussion in real time. I did get the sense that the “clown” was extraneous to the conversation ~ in other words, no one was looking for him/her to engage in the discussion. S/he could have just walked away.

But . . . you are absolutely right.

When someone tries to CORNER me into having a heartfelt conversation about MY LIFE when I’m not seeking their input or understanding, I often use humor to defer, deflect, and disengage.

And if humor doesn’t work, I move on to Plan BB. :mrgreen:

bluebee - August 1, 2014


16. jannatwrites - July 31, 2014

I agree with your reasons behind annoyance. Funny I should read this today (2 days late) because I’m dealing with an annoyance right now… not a jokester or someone trying to disengage a conversation, but rather someone who doesn’t call back. I know part of my annoyance lies in my own anxiety, but still, if someone says they’ll call, they should call.

nrhatch - July 31, 2014

If they’re like me, they’ve picked up the phone to call you a dozen times, each time deciding it’s not a good time to call b/c you’re probably . . . eating, watching TV, taking care of the kids, the cats, or the yard, etc.

I much prefer to shoot someone an e-mail that they can respond to at their leisure ~ or an e-mail to set up a good time to call if a true conversation is in order.

But sometimes I just bite the bullet and dial . . . and then leave a message at the *BEEP*

jannatwrites - July 31, 2014

I guess I should’ve clarified – it’s not a personal call… it’s the vet and my cat is sick. Hello! Call. Me. Back.! Grrr 🙂 I’m about ready to switch vets. Personal calls are different. If I really need to talk to someone, I usually find them!

nrhatch - July 31, 2014

That is different, Janna. If you’re tired of waiting . . . call them! They work for YOU (and the cat).

And if they don’t shape up, fire them by switching vets. Especially since you have more than one animal, you want a vet that is a good fit for your temperament.

And best wishes to your kitty! I know this is a tough road for both of you.

17. Three Well Beings - August 2, 2014

I really like the direction of your dialogue here, Nancy. It brings to mind situations in my own life. I do think there are times when annoyance is very justified, if not critical. I know that I do have to question sometimes if I’m too easily annoyed, but often I think there is a good reason. The people in my life who never express annoyance refer to themselves as “harmonious” and “easy going.” which I have frequently interpreted as unusually passive. Perhaps it’s in the interpretation, and we can be easily misunderstood by others. The important thing is as you said, to take not of our own behaviors from beginning to end. Great conversation, Nancy!

nrhatch - August 2, 2014

A flicker of annoyance is designed to get our attention so we can respond appropriately, even if all we have to do is ask: “why am I so annoyed.”

When I’m feeling good and well rested, I’m not easily annoyed. When I’m sick and tired, I’m often cranky, irritable, and more easily upset and annoyed by stuff I could laugh off on a better day.

Some unusually passive people pop Valiums. 😎

18. I am J - August 2, 2014

I totally relate to this post, Nancy. Well written and right to the point. Lately, my fuse is short and my annoyance factor at an all-time high. Your shared wisdom here was a wake-up call for me to make a better choice. (My sister is dying of stage-4 cancer and I’m struggling a lot with anger and annoyance and all the stress such situations create for a family.)

nrhatch - August 2, 2014

I’m so sorry to hear about your sister. That is tough. Sickness is stressful for all concerned. Try to take time for yourself when you feel your fuse is getting too short. Even if it’s just a short breather to regroup and recharge.

19. * 4 Questions to Ask When We Get Annoyed | Find Your Middle Ground - August 3, 2014

[…] there has been some discussion going on between myself, Nancy at Spirit Lights the Way and Don at Candid Impressions. Its about what goes on when we  are triggered and get annoyed. I […]

20. elizabeth2560 - August 4, 2014

Great post here and I have also read the posts by Don and Val. I agree with you that getting annoyed is not always a sign that the other person is reflecting something in us. To me, there is a huge difference between the annoying ‘line cutters’. ‘litterers’ etc than people who abuse or demean someone else. By that I mean that line-cutters annoy me but I would not give them the time of day to bother expressing my annoyance at them; whereas the bully or the cheat or the person who demeans I would. I think we should all speak up. When I don’t, I get annoyed at myself.

As for being late… well, I am one of those people. For your information, I have analyzed myself and there are two reasons I am late (over and over and over again). The first is because I am ‘chilled’ and do not see the point of rushing around like a frenetic lunatic to get to a social event on time when the hosts (nine times out of ten) wish you were half an hour late anyway. The second situation is when I try really really hard to be on time and I have come to realize that I have this problem of misjudging the time it will take to do things to get ready, even when I take into account the fact that I know that it will take longer than I think it will. So (a) I am not selfish as I am trying really hard to get there on time and (b) I am not disorganized, I do really have an inability to judge time. I have diagnosed this in myself as a genuine disability. So don’t be too harsh on me. I am really quite a nice person. Interestingly I am never late for doctor’s appointments and I have never missed a plane.

nrhatch - August 4, 2014

Sounds like being “on time” for doctor’s appointments and planes is enough of a priority for you that you manage to overcome your “inability to judge time.”

Just sayin’ . . . 😎

Anyway, I’m not about to judge you or anyone else for being late when that lateness doesn’t impact me directly.

elizabeth2560 - August 4, 2014

Ah, yes, but the getting there on time is not without much stress and anxiety and having to ‘drop’ things that I intended to do to (like leave the house tidy) in order to get there on time.

PS. How do you do the face and sunglasses emoticon.

nrhatch - August 4, 2014

: cool : ~ without the spaces 😎

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