Some people can be really annoying, can’t they?

I mean, *REALLY* annoying.

But wait…….. if they are the one who is being so annoying, wouldn’t everyone else get irritated in the exact same way? So why is it that one driver can be left fuming, with steam coming out of their ears and their morning ruined after a driver cuts them off – when the driver in another car can carry on whistling to the song on the radio, totally unfazed?

Situations on their own are neutral. It is the way you respond to an event that creates the emotion you have around it.

If a situation or person is bothering you, here are some tactics that can help you to cope:

Firstly, identify the payoff. How is it serving you to respond with anger/stress/worry etc?

The way you react to situations is meeting one of your core needs – perhaps even a couple of needs:

  • Maybe getting angry meets your need for significance…
  • Getting upset might attract sympathy/connection with others…
  • Worrying could be meeting your need for certainty…
  • And drama may in fact be meeting your need for variety.

… All without you even realising it!
So before you think about changing your behavior, identify which needs you are filling on a subconscious level, so that you can find a resourceful way to continue meeting these needs.

Respond rather than react.
The difference between these two approaches is a pause and a deep breath.
You know that feeling when your buttons get pushed? Your face begins to feel hot, your body tenses up and it feels like your blood is going to pop out of your veins. Say the next thing that blurts out of your mouth and there’s a good chance you might regret it.

Pausing gives you time to choose your response, compose yourself and your words. A deep breath sends oxygen into your lungs, enabling you to think clearly and to feel better instantly (hence the reason we let out a big sigh when we feel bothered). Think of it as the equivalent for your mind and body of opening a window to let a fresh breeze into a stuffy room.

Own your emotions.
As long as you believe somebody or something else is responsible for the way you feel, you are powerless to change it. Responsibility does not have to be about blame, or the past. It is about taking responsibility for how you want things to be. It is about realising that “If I have created the way that I am feeling now, then I must also have the power to change the way that I feel”.

There are three components that make up our emotional state:

  • Our focus
  • Our language
  • Our physiology

Next time you feel an emotion that has you on edge – ask yourself the following questions:

What am I focusing on? Your attention is like a magnifying glass, and you give energy and power to whatever you focus on. For example, If someone is yelling at you, instead of replaying the sound of their voice over and over in your head, you could focus on the source of their pain (maybe they’re experiencing a trauma in their personal life). Switching to a non-judgemental outlook can take you out of victim mode, by transferring the compassion away from yourself over to them.

What am I telling myself right now about this situation? Take note of your self-talk, and if it is negative, try changing it to something more positive – or at the very least, lovingly silence any harsh or critical voice. For example, if you know that you can’t change somebody, instead of telling yourself “Rhonda is SO annoying, she’s always throwing a tantrum over something,” try smiling and telling yourself “some things will never change”. Humour is a good antidote to annoyance.

Take stock of your physiology. Your posture, shoulders, facial expressions, hands, eye movements and breathing all contribute to the way you feel! Choose how you would like to feel (eg. calm), and recall a time when you felt really calm, and what your physiology was like at the time. Maybe your face softened, and you relaxed your body. Another tip is to think of someone you know who embodies the quality that you want to feel, visualize them in your mind, and model their physiology.

Be a reflection of your own values.
I believe that contrast is one of the greatest teachers. Yes, it can be tempting to be spiteful back to someone who is spiteful towards you, or give them a ‘taste of their own medicine’. We learn this response very early on in life.

This is really great if you want to be like a sponge, soaking up whatever behaviour the other person is putting out. But when you don’t like the way someone behaves and then you respond in the same way – you actually become someone you don’t like. Which doesn’t really make much sense. After all, if you didn’t like someone’s fashion, you wouldn’t go and copy their outfit.

So be a reflection of YOU. That means that if someone is stingy, be generous in return. If they frown at you, smile back at them. If they create drama, stay out of it. If they become bitter, respond with love.

I don’t expect you to master this in a day. But the more you do this, the easier it will become.

Letting your light shine will give people the contrast to help them notice when they are forgetting how to let theirs shine. And it will result in you becoming much stronger and clearer about who you are and who you want to be.
Be a torch, not a sponge 🙂

Susan Mathew is a transformational life coach who assists people with discovering how to take control of their feelings, so that they can consciously create whichever emotional state they choose. Contact Susan if this is something that you would like to learn how to do.