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The best method for transforming annoyance and frustration

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By Eugenio Marongiu/Shutterstock

Cecilia Zinicola - published on 06/22/21

We all get annoyed sometimes, but how we respond can be a chance to grow in virtue and holiness.

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There will always be things that annoy us. We can’t avoid their presence, whether they’re big or small. The truth is that nobody likes to feel angry, and it doesn’t help us to be well disposed for the things we have to do during the day.

We can get annoyed very easily at the first honk we get from another car or at other people talking loudly while we’re trying to concentrate. There also can be some people we find to be particularly irritating, even though they do exactly the same thing as someone else, and this feeling of annoyance may even settle in and stay with us permanently. 

St. Josemaría Escrivá used to say that “when we Christians have a bad time, it is because we don’t give this life all its divine meaning.” Approaching our daily life with that perspective of searching for something beyond first impressions is what allows us to discover the hidden riches of the present moment. It opens for us a more complete view of reality, helping us see that everything that happens can be transformed for the good.

It’s perfectly valid to feel bothered by some things, especially those that we consider to be wrong, but we cannot allow this to take away our peace. At the end of the day we can recognize that getting angry or being upset is still, to some extent, a choice we make. Our ability to decide whether or not to let something bother us depends on our ability to respond to the events that happen to us in general.

Responding wisely when something bothers us can impact our day and the day of others in a positive way so that we can move forward without being left with a bitter taste in our mouths. In challenging situations we can respond by making a positive choice.

Exercising virtues 

One of the things we can do when we notice that something is bothering us is to choose to look at the situation at a deeper level. We can see it as an opportunity to practice a virtue such as patience, mercy, compassion or understanding about what is going on. We can try to understand more clearly the reasons why this particular thing bothers us.

A virtue is a voluntary disposition to do good. It not only allows us to focus on a positive aspect of a situation, but to give the best of ourselves in circumstances that challenge us.

With this inner openness, difficult moments become real opportunities to exercise virtues or to discover new ones in everyday life. What could be a bother becomes a gift to help us improve ourselves. 

If things never challenge us, we’ll never know how weak or strong we are, what hidden good qualities we have and how we can grow. Virtues help us get through trials better and thus mature spiritually, so that we can channel our reactions and not be as susceptible to their negative influence.

When we overcome adversity we can develop our character; we’re strengthened to deal with things that don’t go our way. In addition, each challenge we face strengthens our ability to prepare for future obstacles. We learn through discomfort and can rethink what it takes to succeed.

Take positive action 

“To finish things, you have to start doing them.” (St. Josemaría Escrivá)

Instead of staying mired in a negative feeling, we can choose to put our energy into allowing that feeling to move us toward a positive act. Letting go of complaints and putting the focus on doing something more productive can in itself be a comforting step. 

If a person has upset you, perhaps taking the action of listening to them can go a long way. Listen to their words, their tone and their body language. Are they frustrated? Are they having a difficult time? Simply listening can help them and at the same time open us to other opportunities to do good for others.

Sometimes we can understand why someone might have said or done what they said or did, but sometimes we cannot. A positive and liberating action is to mentally forgive and move on with your day. You never know what that person may be going through. 

Another positive and very powerful action is to smile or resort to humor. Smiling is an effective weapon for disarming anger. Smiling brightens us up making things seem less dark, connects us and allows us to develop a cheerful spirit. 

Being kind to others is charity in action; it’s choosing to love above all things regardless of how we’ve been treated. This can be shown by responding with amiable words or a gesture of respect.

Love never goes unnoticed. Even if it’s not clearly recognized at the time, sooner or later it will have an impact.

Another way to react is to share your experience. In adversity we can meet other people. You’ll be surprised to discover that many people may have similar experiences to yours and you may find not only empathy but also good advice.

Grow in holiness

“Don’t say, ‘That person bothers me.’ Think, ‘That person sanctifies me.’” (St. Josemaría Escrivá)

Seeing difficult situations as an opportunity to grow in holiness allows you to put aside your desires and your own will. When we die a little to ourselves by offering difficult things to God, we open ourselves to his grace.

There’s nothing more practical than living the way Christ teaches us by putting others first. And there’s nothing more useful than maturing in our faith.

Pray. A prayer said in a moment of weakness or stress is an act of true love that can bring peace. As the Bible says, “… to those who listen, I say: love your enemies, do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” (Lk 6:27-28).

Being holier doesn’t mean that things don’t hurt or that you become less sensitive. It means that you can accept a cross with love. There we learn to handle everything that happens to us as we become a better person, a witness or comfort to others.

We come to know in more detail the purpose of our lives and are able to feel sincere gratitude for good things we’ve received as we’re filled with God’s grace. With the help of that grace we get through difficult times not because of our own merit, but because of God’s gift. When we choose to open up to the possibility of growing in holiness, we also open ourselves to the possibility of living better. 

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Mental Health
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