How to be less annoyed with everyone

Do you find yourself regularly annoyed? With your co-workers, your kids, your partner or your friends? I think most of us feel this way. You can stop today if you read this. #relationshiptips #angermanagement #calm #selfhelp #selfdevelopment
It started, like many things do, with a pair of misplaced shoes.

Last weekend, our house devolved into a pit of yelling and blaming and annoyance over a pair of ripped up trainers. My usually-calm husband was attempting to hustle his kids out the door and in the manner of children everywhere, they were Taking For Actual Ever.

They had to stop and talk to/about the dog. They had to argue about which jackets they were wearing. They had to look for their shoes and fail to find them.

My husband – in the manner of parents everywhere – grew increasingly annoyed and hustled them more. The boys did not appreciate said hustling and matched his annoyance tit for tat. OH YOU WANT TO YELL COOL I CAN ALSO YELL.

Cut to later that night. Kenny and I are heading to a potluck and have reached an impasse. I think we only need to bring one dish; we’re representing one household. He thinks we should bring two dishes because we’re two people. I’m annoyed at him; he’s taking too long and making this too complicated.

Shockingly enough, he’s annoyed with little ol’ me because I’m rushing him and trying to deny him his god-given right to win a potluck with his cheese dip.

Most of us probably feel annoyed more than we’d like. But in the grand scheme of negative emotions, annoyance isn’t that bad, right? It can’t hold a candle to unsupported or ignored. It’s not the same as feeling unloved, disrespected, or disappointed. It’s a low-grade, tickle-in-your-throat, chronic sort of emotion.

I think if we’re really honest with ourselves, our annoyance isn’t so much a feeling as a belief – the belief that we know better.  

Annoyance usually happens when things aren’t going quite how we’d like, people aren’t doing things quite the way they ‘should’, and wouldn’t life go a lot smoother if everyone just did things our way?

It’s not particularly fun to feel constantly annoyed, to regularly get angry and wound up over tiny, silly things. I like myself least when I’m annoyed about something I know is petty and unimportant. I feel like a 1950s cartoon version of a woman, complaining about something inconsequential.

“That bum of a husband! I tell you! He can’t put his shoes away to save his life!” <- imagine a drawing of me with curlers in my hair, holding a martini glass and talking on a landline telephone that has a curly cord.

Here’s the thing: Feeling annoyed is a two-way street.

Every time you’re annoyed with someone, they’re probably just as annoyed with you. Share on X

If I’m annoyed that you didn’t deliver the project the way I wanted,
you’re probably annoyed that I gave you vague guidance and very little help.

If I’m annoyed that you failed to plan one aspect of our trip,
you’re probably annoyed that I’m micromanaging everything and sucking the spontaneity out of the entire country of Spain.

If I’m annoyed with you for not emptying out the dishwasher immediately,
you’re probably annoyed with me for expecting everything, ever to happen on my timeline.

If I’m annoyed with you for making the same “bad life choice” over and over again,
you’re probably annoyed with me for being a Judgey So-and-So who thinks she knows which choices you should be making.

So now I am trying (with varying degrees of success) to remember that when I’m annoyed with someone, they’re probably at least as annoyed at me. My way is, in fact, not the only way. My timeline? Not the only timeline. My approach/mindset/worldview? NOT THE ONLY WAY TO DO THINGS.

Being annoyed is probably the universal habit that unites all humans that aren’t Buddhist monks.  But taking a moment to consider someone’s polar opposite perspective can give us empathy and dig us out of our tunnel-vision bad moods.

(even if they make you late for the potluck because they’re making cheese dip.)

Are you easily annoyed? How do you get out of those moods?

P.S. Want to feel more happy and less annoyed? This free workbook will help!

photo credit: andrew ridley // cc

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  1. Miranda


    I’m big on the way things “should” be, so I’m frequently put out when things don’t happen that way. I’m actively working to combat the annoyance, because it closes me off from other people. I can’t be compassionate or helpful or friendly when I’m wrapped up in annoyance.

    I’m lucky/cursed to have a partner who is basically the exact opposite fo me. So all the ways thing “should” be to me are often not what he’s doing. In our relationship, we’ve made a pact that I will shut my mouth and not criticize the process before the product is finished. So for example, I’m a driver that is in the turning lane way ahead of when I need to be. And he is a driver who doesn’t get over until the very. last. minute. (Can you tell how much this bugs me?)

    But, he rarely misses a turn. He gets us where we need to go safely and on time. His product is solid, even if his process is not quite what I would prefer. Now, if he was constantly missing turns or I felt unsafe, then we can talk. But there’s many paths to the same end, so I try to remember that. And if I forget, he reminds me.

    Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has a concept called cognitive distortions and should statements is one of them. It’s a great method for handling this issue.

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      Yes! And he’s probably just as annoyed by your too-early-turn-laning as you are by his last-minute-turn-laning! 😉 <3

    • Kris

      My husband is the same way and waits until the last minute to get into the correct lane if he’s turning or getting off a highway. Drives.Me.Nuts!!

  2. Norma Maxwell

    Yes but your way is usually the most fun 😉

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      Ha! Tell that to the 9-year-old I’m always bossing around 😉

  3. Amanda

    I work in a jail. I constantly get lied to, yelled at, and threatened. So I’m always annoyed. So I tend to just avoid people all together after work.

  4. scar

    Man, I needed this today. I’m usually pretty chill, but my mother’s staying at the moment, and… well, you know how it goes 😉

  5. Erin

    My daily struggle –

    Me: “if you’re not going to do it RIGHT, just don’t do it.”
    Him: “Good enough is better than not at all.”

    And if I’m being honest, he’s probably right. I’m over here gritting my teeth because he’s vacuuming BEFORE dusting or doing laundry without sorting it. And I’m using so many four letter words in my head rather than just being happy to have a partner who vacuums on the regular and washes clothes without being asked.

    You have a functioning adult human who KNOWS you bring food to a party! That’s a win, for sure. But man, those battles are super hard to pick.

  6. Jen

    What is it with guys and potlucks? I’m not sure my hubby completely gets the concept as he thinks that we need to bring enough of our dish for the ENTIRE party. Yeah, no. But we argue about it every time.

  7. Kris

    Yep, this is me to a T. Work, Family, doesn’t matter, I get annoyed with everyone except my best friends. And if I do get annoyed with them, they call me out and then I either apologize or argue my point and then we laugh and move on 🙂

  8. annie

    This is totally brilliant. That is all.

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      So glad it resonated with you, Annie!

  9. lauranne

    I really like that, I will try and remember it when someone next p*sses me off 😉

    (And I feel that will happen sooner rather than later!)

  10. Amanda

    I feel like I should print this post and put it on the frig to remind me to chill out! We need to be grateful for what we do have!

  11. Nicolle

    I really, really, really needed to read this, and everyone’s comments. My bf and I have hit that reality mark, the rose tinted glasses are OFF!!
    Im the oldest sibling in my family and I know I cam be bossy/annoyed at life, constantly. So as much as im observing and im not sure I like his method for washing dishes (if he doesn’t know where they go, he leaves them out with learning where they go), or his decision to not put shoes on his young children when they go out (apparently they just kick them off and loose them, im of the opinion he should carry shoes in a back pack, in case they need to use a public bathroom) im trying to pick my battles and just not loose it completely.
    Dishes, yay he does dishes, but the shoes thing is the thing I need to focus on, gently.
    So thank you!!

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      We’ve all been there, girl! 😉 So glad you found this useful! <3

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