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Monday, November 23, 2015

Irritation May Help You See Better


Do this exercise quickly: make a list of habits and character traits of others that most annoy you. Even perhaps some others with whom you haven't got a particular relationship, but when that kind of person shows up at the office, in the neighbourhood, or at a dinner party, you can feel your annoyance engorging, your hackles rise, your irritation increases, and in general, you just know that you very much dislike having a person like that around you.

Perhaps some of the habits and traits you dislike look like this (and of course there are hundreds more):
  • being weak and helpless
  • always being helpful
  • never helping
  • always being gay and joyous
  • always being pessimistic
  • knowing more than others
  • knowing very little
  • being domineering
  • being loud
  • being quiet
  • being subservient
  • being harsh
  • being abrupt
  • being overly explanatory
  • complaining
  • self-involved
  • impatient
Now here's the thing: any behavior or attitude or trait or habit of another that evokes affect (emotion) in me, tells me something about me, and not about the other. That is to say: the other may be any of the above things (or other, far worse things), but the point of this little exercise is to make you see that as soon as an emotion of annoyance, irritation, etc., arises within you, it is telling you something about you, as opposed to proving that the other is a this or a that. If you were not involved in this, none of your emotions would surface. The whole thing simply would not matter to you. The fact that your emotions do surface, means it does matter to you because there is something in you that is affected by this behavior of the other, that you need to take a look at. Because the inner place in which you wish to be is a place where the behavior of others does not have the power to affect you in this way. Not because you do not care, but because you are in a place of inner awareness and balance. Therefore, it means that when these emotions arise, they should be taken as indications of something in me that I need to look at, and hence, they can be illuminating and helpful to my own growth. Jung put it like this: Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.

What is irritating you about another person today? And what do you intend to do about it?

Image: Bay of Naples

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