Focus: Putting annoyance in its proper place
Romans 12:21 (NIV) Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
As you’re working at kicking bad habits–let’s talk about one you might have missed–because, for starters, you might not think of it as a habit.
Depression and dependency throw a lot of things out of whack. While you’re dealing with things that may seem far more important–you might not even notice how certain things and/or people are annoying you. Compared to everything else you’re dealing with, working on not being annoyed could seem like a purely trivial pursuit. Being annoyed or aggravated might even seem like a ‘normal thing,’ and to some degree, it is. Let’s face it–we don’t live in a perfect world, and in the course of a day, a number of disappointing things can happen.
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The main reason to look at it at all is for the purpose of evaluating how much ‘being annoyed’ could be slowing down the process of recovery for you. If you were asked to jot down the top ten things that annoy you–it probably wouldn’t take you more than a minute to list them. Nothing wrong with that–we all have ‘pet peeves’. Stuff like being annoyed or having pet peeves are things we joke about–and rarely take seriously. They could even be seen as personality quirks—part of ‘who we are’.
But, what is at the core of an annoyance? What makes us get annoyed? The answer is simple. We get annoyed when things don’t go the way we want them to.
We respond differently to being annoyed than we respond to being disappointed. You could relate to it this way–you might respond to a disappointing experience by expressing sadness in one way or another. Being annoyed commonly causes people to grind their teeth or feel warranted in displaying behavior that reveals the fact they’re ticked-off.
But, it’s not just behavior we need to look at. More importantly, we need to think about how often and to what degree we are annoyed. If a considerable number of things in your life aren’t going your way–or if you feel like certain people are constantly driving you crazy–maybe you should give some thought as to why. Not ‘why’ as in what’s going wrong or what may be wrong with the person who is annoying us–but, ‘why’ as in what our expectations are and especially whether the problem actually resides in the other person—or in us. You probably would eagerly defend the fact that a problem that makes you feel annoyed is not your fault–but isn’t that how any addict feels before they admit their life is out of control and that they need the help of God to overcome?
You may further say that your problem with being annoyed is not out of control–and maybe it seems that way–but feeling annoyed most of the time is definitely a cause for concern. A person who is constantly annoyed feels completely justified in being depressed or dependent.
If being annoyed is a problem you struggle with, as with any habit, you first need to admit it’s a problem and ask God to help you conquer it. Then, you need to begin paying more attention to the things that bother you and start monitoring your response.
What does ‘being annoyed’ make you do–or wish you could do? Does it cause you to be tempted to do things that could hurt yourself or someone else? Your first impression is probably, ‘of course not.’ But ‘hurt’ can be anything from pouting, to acting out in a number of different ways. You have your own classic responses, and I have mine.
While you’re watching what makes you annoyed and how you react–there is one more important thing to acknowledge. At the heart of being annoyed is something none of us wants to admit. In the final analysis–being annoyed is really being critical. When we are convinced that our way is the only way–we will be annoyed a lot. We live in a world full of people who think their way is the best.
Can you see the futility of thinking everyone else should live up to your expectations? Can you imagine how much annoyance you will avoid when you get better at accepting the things and people you can’t change?
You may not view ‘being critical’ as a kind of evil–but it is. The Bible says to overcome evil with good. What would happen if you started doing something nice for the person who annoys you–or, what about saying something positive when you’re rubbed the wrong way? If you start doing that, it won’t be long before you’ll see an improvement in them–and yourself.
Declaration: I will find new strength by overcoming my tendency to be annoyed when things don’t go my way. I will face the fact that being annoyed is being critical. Accepting the things and people I can’t change will help me make better progress.
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