ARRRGH!! Have you ever been so irritated that you just wanted to yell or scream? (I hope I’m not the only one who’s ever felt like this!) There are several things that can drive us to become irritated. It could be a recurring behavior we keep engaging in. Maybe we’re irritated by a bureaucratic process or organization that seems incapable of providing reasonable value. Irritations also come from those we regularly interact with or it could even come from within ourselves due to a gap between our expectations and current reality.
It feels safe to say that at some point we’ve all been irritated. So what should we do when this occurs? Do we just brush it off and move on? What’s the proper response to irritations we encounter? I like the thought I heard on a recent podcast that suggests we get “beyond irritated”. So what does that mean?
When we find ourselves irritated we have a few choices. We can remain irritated, or we can use the irritation as a catalyst to spark an action that leads to a positive change or outcome. This is the essence of getting beyond irritated.
When irritation strikes I’ve found it rather easy just to remain parked in an irritated state. This seems to be the default reaction for most folks, as it requires zero effort or thought. We just naturally seem to go there. However, as noted above, we have a better choice.
This is where we get beyond just being irritated. No, we’re not taking about taking our irritation to the next level, where we allow ourselves to go completely berserk. That would be counterproductive. Getting beyond irritated is a different way of thinking. It’s using an irritation to spark action to improve the situation, to cause something to happen. Think of irritation as the event that strikes the match of positive activity.
Looking back, I realize I’ve used this concept, in a small way, in my own life recently. I use to get to the end of my workday and leave in a hurry in order to catch the bus on time. It always felt like I was rushing out and leaving things undone, only to be dealt with the next morning. I would arrive the next day to a messy desk and loose ends from the day before, irritated that I had, yet again, set myself up to have a chaotic morning. Not only was it irritating, it was not how I wanted to begin each day. A few months ago I decided to start blocking out the last 10 minutes of my day to assess what I was working on and schedule my tasks for the following day. That way, I’d arrive the next morning to an orderly desk with a plan for the day ahead. So far this plan has been working extremely well. Since its implementation, I have not been irritated by a chaotic workspace. That irritation has been removed.
What things constantly irritate you? Is it being out of shape, stuck in an unfulfilling job, poor relationships with those closest to you? Be mindful when you become irritated. When you do, very quickly ask yourself, “What action can I take to get beyond this irritation?” and then take that action.
Never waste an irritation by failing to follow it up with a positive action. If not, you could be leaving a potentially life changing opportunity on the table.