Some people can be really annoying.
My 8 year old, for example, is loud. LOUD. If she’s talking, it’s either “loud” or “make-it-stop!-loud” Even her feet are loud. There’s no walking, just stomping. It’s like she hides weights in her shoes. When she walks to school… Bang. As she walks in the house. Bang. As she trots down the stairs. Bang. Bang. Bang. That’s the Sensory Processing Disorder part of her diagnosis. Raising her is like wearing an air horn stuck in the “on” position as a hat.
Then there’s my 7 year old. Red-headed. Intense. Volatile. Unpredictable. Very physical and affectionate, but also has sensory issues. If we’re snuggling and someone burps in the other side of the room, she pulls away sharply and gags. Or if the seatbelt is too tight in the van, she begins to scream and kick the seat in front of her in a panic… two seconds after she’s laughing at a joke. Raising her is like rolling over in a warm cozy bed onto a half-insulated live wire.
You’ve got them too – at your job, in your family, around the neighborhood. The annoying people. The challenging people. The stressful people. We all get to a point sometimes where we want to yell at them like Shrek yells at his friend, Donkey, “… For five minutes…. Can you just NOT be yourself? For FIVE MINUTES?!!”
Nope. They can’t. Just like we can’t when we’re the annoying person of the moment.
At a basic level, their behavior annoys us because we have different perspectives, because we’re tired or stressed that day, or because, as is the case for my 8- and 7-year olds, they are coming from a place of anxiety or brokenness.
Why does that matter? Because the relationship matters… the person matters. And because it’s adding stress to our lives, which is our responsibility to deal with… not theirs.
So how do we get through the bang-bang-banging and the volatile moody ups and downs, or whatever annoying (read: stressful) behavior someone’s dishing out?
We breathe. We need oxygen to think, move and thrive. We need to exhale the oxygen to release toxins from our bodies. When I focus on breathing slow and steadily in a tough moment, I calm down almost instantly. That’s why the word “breathe” is my cellphone’s wallpaper – as a reminder. Because chances are, whatever’s going on when I turn on the phone, I could use a few good, deep breaths!
We do a quick check-in to see how we’re feeling. I close my eyes. Hide in the bathroom or car for a few seconds… whatever it takes. I listen to my body. What muscles are tense? What kinds of negative thoughts am I nurturing? What fears or other personal buttons are being pushed (ie, why do I even CARE about the annoying behavior anyway?)
We decide how we need to take care of ourselves right then. For me, it’s find a distraction. A change of scene (go outside, or to a different room… imagine a favorite place). Or a change of sound (turn on or change the music), or a new smell (put on a favorite lotion, or brew some coffee). A recent article on Health.com revealed distractions and feelings of love actually have pain-reducing effects. It’s all the benefit of tylenol, without the liver damage. And it helps us maintain relationships with our most challenging people in life in a way that honors our needs too.
Here’s one of my favorite songs that deal with this issue:
What do you find helpful when someone’s behavior is making you crazy?
(Sources: You Tube Video)