We each have people in our lives who annoy us. Maybe it’s a family member, friend, or co-worker. Maybe it’s your spouse or kids. When someone annoys me, my initial reaction is to get angry or distance myself from the person. This is natural—it doesn’t feel good to be annoyed. But if we are open to it, the person who annoys us can actually be a gift.
How the Person Who Annoys You is a Gift
Here’s why: Most of the time in our life, we don’t get many opportunities for personal growth. We go about our day, and pretty much just do our thing. We get to a place where we are comfortable and stop growing and improving. We only make a big effort to change something if it’s really bad or causing a lot of problems in our life.
Getting Triggered as a Pathway to Growth
When someone annoys or triggers us, it can be a pathway to higher levels of personal growth. If someone does something, but it doesn’t tap into one of our own issues, we aren’t likely to get triggered by it. Instead, in situations like these, we are more likely to be curious or experience compassion for the person. It’s not personal.
However, if someone does something, and it DOES tap into one of our own issues, that’s when we tend to get triggered and have a big reaction. Usually one of two things is going on. Either (1) Something the person did is tapping into something we struggle with ourselves or (2) Something the person did is tapping into an area of unresolved past hurt and pain. If we can press the pause button and explore what is behind our reaction, we might be able to deal with that part of ourselves in a new and different way.
3 Steps for Dealing with Annoying People
Here is a 3-step process I recommend working through whenever someone annoys you.
- Identify the judgment. What is your judgment about the person who annoyed you? Don’t hold back or try to be polite—this is just for your own understanding and growth. For example, awhile back someone said something and I felt like they were trying to control me. My judgment was: They are a control freak!
- Identify what the reaction is about for you. What is the reaction about for you? Remember the 2 common reasons: Either (1) Something the person did is tapping into something we struggle with ourselves or (2) Something the person did is tapping into an area of unresolved past hurt and pain. For me, it was #1. I like to have everything under control, so I know what will happen next. My reaction was about my own projection—I am a control freak.
- Identify one step for growth. Now that you have identified what the reaction is about for you, what is one step you could take to grow in this area? Your judgment about the other person is your prescription for yourself. In my example, what was one thing I could do to work on being less controlling? I committed to talking about my anxiety and need to control in counseling.
How do you react when someone annoys you? Instead of writing them off, spend some time thinking about your judgment. What is the judgment about for you? How could you see the person who annoys you as a gift that helps point you toward personal growth?