How to Deal with Small Irritants in Life

How many times have you heard some or all of these lame phrases, “Oh! it’s a small thing. It will go away”, “Such things happen, just move on”, “This thing doesn’t deserve your time and energy”. I have heard these phrases many times whenever I have gone to friends to share an unpleasant incident or a stray comment. Unpleasant incidents, no matter how small they are, affect me and stay within me for longer than desired. Some of my friends call me sensitive and some go a step further to call me “highly sensitive.” This post is for all of those “sensitive” and “super sensitive” people who feel the things happening around them at a bit higher level than others.

What are these small irritants?

Small irritants are those small unpleasant actions, jibes, comments, or snubbing behaviors that we encounter in our daily course of life either from strangers or known ones. These irritants could be a terse comment, indirect taunting, someone avoiding you in a gathering, a mis-behavior which cannot be called out immediately, and so on. Have you ever experienced a social gathering where one person is continuously cutting you off and not allowing you to talk? Has it ever happened to you that when someone wants to put you down, he/she brings out a painful chapter of your life just to hurt you, a relative taunting you on your life-choices, a friend lying to you for a ridiculously small matter, your boss favoring another team member to demotivate you, a friend ignoring you on social media, and the list is endless.

You never look good trying to make someone look bad.

Why do people behave unpleasantly?

People who generally pick on other people and make fun of them or try to hurt them are usually mentally weak and low in confidence. These people retreat into putting down the other person to make themselves feel good. These people are often called social bullies or emotional aggressors. These bullies or aggressors:

  • Have low self-esteem and they try to cover it up by making the other person look weak.
  • Target the person who is better settled than them in terms of education and work opportunities.
  • Pick on a person who challenges them or from whom they feel threatened.
  • Try to create an atmosphere where they seem to be in control.
  • Resort to such behavior when they have no other way to defeat the intended person.

Often these people pick such a person who is high on emotions and gets flustered easily. Most of the time, this type of digging, snubbing, or commenting is done on a lighter note just to baffle the intended person and to make the targeted person react emotionally. But, sometimes, this behavior is repeated or the severity is increased with the intention to hurt or to send a message across.  

Why do these small irritants trouble us so much

These irritants are largely not serious every time and they are definitely not life-threatening but they trouble us all the same. Here are two main reasons that these small and inconsequential incidents make us feel bad.

  1. They come from the people known to us – One of the main reasons such small incidents trouble us is the fact that they come from the people known to us. In our moment of initial shock or afterthought, we don’t realize that the hurt is more because of these jibes coming from a known person than the action itself.  
  2. We are not able to express them clearly – The clinching point about these irritants is that they are vague, conjectural, and intangible. It’s hard to describe these irritants in clear words and while we grapple to explain these incidents to someone, we end up looking like a confused, whining person who doesn’t know what he/she is saying.
“Stand up for yourself, even if nobody is on your side.”

How Can we Deal with these Small Irritants

You need a really close friend or a family member to be able to talk to them about these small snubs. Your close friends will be able to look beyond the magnitude of the matter and acknowledge your feelings. Otherwise, chances are that other people will hear it half-heartedly or will just laugh it off. Because half of them will not be sensible enough to understand your matter and the other half will not have the intent to understand you.

Dealing with these life’s small irritants could be easy if you understand a few points that can make a few changes in the way you deal with people around you.

  • Confront the person picking on you – The best way to end any of such unpleasant situation is to directly confront the person targeting you. You can confront the person with good humor or in a serious case, with a stern warning.
  • Ignore the person if he/she habitually picks on you – Ignoring the person who is picking on you could be the best response as this person’s aim is to baffle you and elicit a reaction from you. Such people feed on your response or reaction, which you should not give them.
  • Hold your anger/reaction and give a smile – Many people take dig on you because they want to irritate you and want to bring out your vulnerable self. Learn to recognize such people and give them your best smile. It will take practice but if you play this phrase in your mind; “My smile will kill him/her”, your reaction will be balanced and will give a subtle warning to the person.
Head up, stay strong. Fake a smile and move on!
  • Distract Yourself – If you struggle with moving on, you need put in additional efforts to not to let any of such incident spoil your moment or a day. Repeating your favorite positive phrases or reading a good book will help you ignore those small irritants.

How different people react differently to the same situations?

For some people like me, these small instances of ignorance, snubbing, or slight criticism put me in a different mood and I make an effort to shift these feelings to the back of my mind so that I can concentrate on other things in life. But, as I have written above, there are people who do not get affected by such instances easily and are able to move on quickly. The difference lies in the way our personalities have developed since childhood.

People who generally get more affected:

  1. Are highly intuitive. They are able to read between the lines and understand the untold.
  2. Are prone to criticism and ignorance.
  3. Give more importance to human relationships
  4. Give more importance to what people think about them.
“For a highly sensitive person, a drizzle feels like a rain.”

People who don’t get affected easily with such small irritants:

  1. Take other person’s talk or comments on face value and do not dwell much into the intended meaning.
  2. Are not affected by any one person’s criticism or ignorance
  3. Attach more importance to individualism
  4. Are not worried about how people in general perceive them

A Quote to End With…

I have learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you make them feel” – Maya Angelou

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