There’s nothing worse than an annoying human who gets under your skin. Maybe it’s a co-worker who always makes idiotic comments on the news or your opinionated mother-in-law who can’t stop with the passive-aggressive remarks. It could even be a sibling you’ve had a love-hate relationship with for over 20 years.
On the bright side: Many of the world’s greatest spiritual teachers believe that struggle shows up in our lives to teach us something important. If there’s an annoying person in your life, here are some mindset shifts that can help get you through it. Because as long as life goes on, so will the existence of people who bother you—guaranteed.
Consider these 4 reasons to turn that annoying person’s presence into something better:
1. They are your teachers.
Think about the person who irks you. What can you learn from them?
Is it boundary setting? Are you constantly the beta to someone else’s alpha? Do you need to stand up for yourself more? In that case, bossy Becky from college who always calls the shots is teaching you to use those pipes of yours to have your needs met too. It’s not your job to be a pleaser or giver all the time.
Maybe your annoying acquaintance or friend is teaching you to use your power.
2. They reveal what needs to be healed.
When someone bothers us—maybe a confident, outspoken new hire at work or your best friend’s new yoga pal—it can highlight what we need to heal within ourselves. Spiritually speaking, we often don’t like things in others that we don’t like about ourselves. What does talkative Tara tell you with her irritating, nonstop complaining? Or what about wannabe-cool Cameron and his try-hard Instagram captions? Do you need to focus on appreciation more in your life too? Do you need to care a little less about social media?
Ask yourself: Why does this person set me off? What within you is reacting? Be understanding and loving toward yourself. When we understand our fears and triggers, not only do they loosen their hold on us, but we naturally begin to feel less aggravated by others too.
3. Contrast serves you (if you let it).
Last year I reluctantly joined a pricey writer’s club, even though my intuition told me it wasn’t a great idea. I did so after some enthusiastic encouragement from a blogger friend of mine, despite the fact that something felt a little off about it. Two weeks in, I had grown aggravated by a nonstop chatterbox who joined the group late. Her dominant influence on the club and stupid comments in the Facebook group showed me maybe I was right in making a call to peace out of the group (which I’d wanted to do from day one). Turns out quitting the group was the right thing for me, and I joined a different, perfect-fit community soon afterward.
But that was thanks to chatty Cathy who put the nail in my club membership coffin. She did me a favor by steering me in a new direction.
4. You can’t save everyone.
It’s terribly frustrating when you want to assist someone, and they won’t take your help. Like a friend who is miserable about being stuck in a dead-end job but won’t leave. Or your boss who never stands up for herself against her male counterpart. Or that relative who won’t eat healthy food even though you know they cry at night over their weight gain.
I know! You have the answers! You can help! As a life coach, I have to force myself to not give unsolicited advice. Instead, I sit back. Observe. Smile. Sip my coffee. Anything to resign as general manager of the universe and only help when asked. Annoying people stuck in victim loops illuminate the fact that all we can control is ourselves. Amen for that. Think of the energy you can give to just doing you! Feels lighter, right?
If all else fails, annoying people can also just make you laugh. Can someone’s lateness, cheapness, even plain ignorance make you laugh instead of fret? Can you carry your agitation more lightly? Because annoying types may be assignments, yes, but if we’re willing to learn something from them, they can be our teachers too.
Susie Moore is Greatist’s life coach columnist and a confidence coach in New York City. Sign up for free weekly wellness tips on her website and check back every Tuesday for her latest No Regrets column!