Many things annoy many people – sometimes little things that people do simply drive you to distraction. Sometimes something you didn’t find annoying before, now you realize has become quite annoying over time. These are usually minor things that at one time in the not so distant past you may have even considered to be cute, but no longer; now – annoying!
Annoyances come in all shapes and sizes. Sounds, smells, verbal expressions, nervous tics, and a myriad of other possibilities someone at some time has thought “how annoying” about another person.
Then there are the universal annoyances: Fingernails on a chalkboard – painfully annoying. Certain laughs (Jeff Bezos is reputed to have quite a distinctive guffaw). Nasal / high voice pitches. Idiosyncratic personal habits. OK, maybe that last one falls under pet peeves, which are annoyances, but are more individual than universal.
My favorite declaration of “So annoying!” is when things go wrong, which can happen daily and multiple times a day, especially with technology snafus – and annoyingly there’s no one to blame or point to as the cause of those annoyances, which is simply: sh*t happens, an annoying part of life!
Which leads to the lightbulb answer of what causes something to be considered annoying – we are annoyed by pattern disruption. Yep, we are great creatures of habit and we like our patterns fairly predictable. Not routine ruts, which can be boring and ho-hum, but predictable patterns held up to what we expect to happen. This allows us to make sense of the world and our place in it. And when everything is right with the world, it spins along nicely according to predictable lines, we happily go our merry way. But when the pattern disrupts – how annoying! Why did that happen? What else, not so good, is this a predictor of that might soon follow?
An annoying sound is one that doesn’t fall into our acceptable range of OK, which could mean trouble. A weird laugh or voice pitched wrong indicates a natural flaw which has potential to impair the gene pool. Also true of offbeat personal habits – less than perfect DNA is not attractive mate material.
So it turns out that humans are pretty shallow beings, but this is Mother Nature talking, not our conscious thoughts. We are just her messengers – and we get annoyed. With so much going on and so much data to process and interact with, we can get annoyed a lot. A lot of can go wrong in a day to raise the annoyance-meter.
A key to self-communication is to not let minor annoyances bother us. Just let them roll away and not allow them to ruffle a perfectly good day, since they are trivial (I did say minor annoyances), frequently occur, and likely can’t be changed anyway, so don’t give them any mental real estate. Tune them out like a static radio station.
The thing about annoyances is that they sap away energy needed for other things, and turn positive energy into negative energy, a waste of a good resource. Negative emotions are proven to do physiological harm in elevated blood pressure, cortisol levels (stress), and immune system impairment. So there is harm in allowing yourself to get overly annoyed and nothing good to be gained.
So when you see that next pattern disruption coming your way – and there will always be one coming, and another one coming after that – don’t get annoyed. Just smile and let it pass you by. Or if that doesn’t work, then repeat this mantra: I will not get annoyed, I will not get annoyed, I will not….
Have an annoyance story to share below?