On Peeves + Vexations: How To Handle What Gets To You.
SINCE THE AGE OF FOURTEEN, I’ve been plagued with very, very difficult skin. The ads I saw on television didn’t seem to understand the severity of my problem, and the products marketed to clear, zap, blast all my troubles away mocked me in the harsh glow of my bathroom’s lights.
It was clear, then, that a pro would be needed to get to the bottom of it. As I became more and more accustomed to the processes and the techniques used by estheticians to clear out the trouble zones (I went enough to pay attention to patterns), I realized I could probably do the exact same thing by myself in the comfort of my own room. No picking, no scrubbing, gentle pressure, stay clean, etc.
Turns out, I got fairly good at it.
And then they wouldn’t go away.
The problem wasn’t that I was DIYing it on my own face (not recommended) and creating more trouble – the problem was that instead of just tackling what I knew I could handle, I began to see little problems under the skin everywhere.
I consider myself a pretty accepting person. An empath to the core, I tend not to just put myself in someone else’s shoes, I fully immerse myself in the waters of what it’s like to be them.
And yet I’m only human, and as humans, we’re prone to getting annoyed – often by things that are beyond our control. Call them pet peeves or call them vexations, but whatever you call them, they’re the instances that trigger a reaction from us that sticks with us way past its welcome.
Our annoyances don’t necessarily enrage us – or don’t right off the bat, at least. They just…irk us. Whether it’s a close family member or an entirely fictional TV character, our pet peeves make our blood simmer at dangerous temperatures. And when left untended, our veins run the risk of boiling over.
WANT isn’t about sugarcoating and it’s not about ignoring. It’s about allowing ourselves to feel a full spectrum of emotions, taking a close look at what doesn’t serve us, and moving forward through it. WANT isn’t about the absence of negative talk – it’s about the exploration and transcendence of it.
And so when it comes to pet peeves and annoyances, I’m not really of the camp that says we should just “let it go.” Like anything else, if we leave our vexations untended, they’re bound to plant roots and stake their claim.
No matter how virtuous, empathetic, or compassionate we are in our lives, none of us are exempt from feeling annoyed by others, down on ourselves, frustrated with life events, or confused by our purpose. But it’s not about your thoughts – it’s about what you do with them.
So many times, our pet peeves speak way more about ourselves then they do about others. And even if they DO speak about others, we can use these frustrating moments to our advantage. Not everything is a mirror, but everything is an opportunity. Each negative thought is a chance to learn a little bit more about ourselves than we did before. And the more we know about who we are, the more proactive we can be about who we know we are meant to be.
When you’re feeling frustrated, triggered, annoyed, whatever you want to call it, stop and step outside yourself for a moment.
Here’s what to do when you find yourself vexed:
1.) IDENTIFY THE SOURCE.
What is it you’re peeved about, exactly – what is it that’s triggering a strong reaction in you? Try not to focus on the literal instance per se, but the tone, mood, action, or underlying theme.
For me, I’m aware it’s the same stuff over and over, and usually comes in a package brought to me by someone else: Myopic viewpoints. Codependent relationships. Disorganization and lack of clarity. Submission. Complacency. I’ve been told I shouldn’t be bothered by these things, but I am. I’ve been told I shouldn’t let them get to me, but I do. I can’t help it. I am only human.
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2.) ASK + GET HONEST.
What can you learn about yourself, your relationships, your strengths, or your weaknesses from this? Is this annoyance/pet peeve/vexation representative of a part of yourself you value…or a part of yourself you’d like to take a second look at?
I get triggered, annoyed, and frustrated way less often now than I used to, but it still happens. When I look at these things from an emotionally analytic point of view, I can see that each one tells me a little something about myself. Who I am, what I stand for, my strengths, and even my shortcomings.
My frustration with myopia reminds me of my passion for understanding. My annoyance with codependence reminds me of the times I unknowingly broke myself and relied on others to make my life FOR me instead of me actually going out and making it for myself. Disorganization and forgetfulness unearth the fear I had growing up that I was everyone’s “second-best” or that what I did didn’t really matter. And my frustration with submission and complacency is a reminder of how strongly I believe in the magic that happens when reaching one’s Full potential. Some of this stuff I love about myself. Some of it, I realize, represents the work I still need to do.
3.) TAKE ACTION FOR THE BETTER.
Maybe taking action means living out that part of yourself you love as much as you can. Maybe it means making yourself heard. Maybe it means looking at all angles. Or maybe that means going on a quest to find what fits for you and you alone.
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Someone has blinders on when it comes to an issue you care about? Maybe instead of stewing on how much you disagree, you consciously make a choice not to discuss this topic with them. Or maybe you consciously make an effort to understand (not agree, understand) their viewpoints. If they’re toxic or you need to set boundaries, that’s one thing. If they’re simply what you view as “stubborn,” that’s another.
Someone you love self-sabotages by never standing up for himself? Maybe instead of getting exacerbated by his supposed “flaw,” you give him a safe place to express his opinions and build up his strength, and lead by example when you can. Because really, we’re all flawed. “Flawed” is in the eye of the beholder.
Your best friend forgot about your lunch date…again? Maybe instead of it getting under your skin and lay a base for animosity, you use your lockbox-like memory to send her reminder emails through Google Cal in the days leading up. No one is perfect – even when they love someone deeply – and her forgetfulness isn’t intentional (but if you think it is, then it’s time to have a heart to heart).
Stewing isn’t just a waste of time, it’s a drain on your energy resources. And it strengthens and reinforces the negative vernacular you’re building for yourself. When you’re feeling triggered, annoyed, or frustrated with what’s going on outside of yourself, turn your gaze inward and find what’s reflecting on the inside. Warning, you might not necessarily like what you see. But that’s part of the process: finding the dust in the corners and figuring out a way to make them sparkle.
The thing with annoyances and pet peeves is that just like with my skin woes and DIY facial addiction, the closer we look, the more we’ll see. The more we hone in on what irks us, the more we’re convinced it’s all that’s there.
In the end, all life is is a series of choices. What we love reinforces who we are, and what we don’t love presents us with the choice to change.
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So zoom out. Tune in. There’s a lot more to love than there is to loathe – and a whole lot we can flip around for the better if we just turn off the harsh lights.
Do you have something (or somethings) in your life that really gets under your skin? What does it say about who you are, what you value – or, possibly, what you’d like to move forward through?
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