When Annoyed, remember what’s in your control

The root of annoyance stems from a mismatch in expectations.

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

From A.R.S.E. to A.C.E. is a course that was created to help people recognise, accept and move on from states that left them feeling overwhelmed, stuck and hopeless. Over the next few weeks, I’ll give you tips on how to de-escalate from feeling Annoyed, Reactive, Stressed and Exhausted, whilst pro-actively building up your ability to be Attentive, Calm and Effective (you’ve already got it in you, we just need to clear out the clutter). For those who’ve attended a workshop in the past, this is a chance to review what you’ve learnt and continue to build on it.

Crap is going to happen.

(No rhyme nor reason, just does…yes, annoying in itself.)

How you respond to it will determine whether it washes over you or whether it saps you of energy and time. Rather than waste enormous energy and time on what people think of you, what you or others did, or what they will do, focus on what you can do when you interact with others. Someone can still be upset, annoyed, no matter what you do. We become annoyed when our expectations aren’t being met. Is this due to a severe clash of values or simply due to miscommunication?

Let’s use the example of someone not doing what you wanted them to do. Rather than getting annoyed, where you risk falling into an argument, how can you create understanding? What you can control is your attitude. Can you come up with an attitude of curiosity, rather than judgment? Even if you don’t speak to the person directly, try to picture what is going on for them, what are you assuming? For example, one person’s regular check-ins done from a place of concern and care, may be seen as micro-managing and distrust.

This links with being A.C.E. (attentive, calm and effective) because you stop yourself or slow yourself from jumping to conclusions. Am I annoyed and tetchy because someone has let me down or am I just suffering the effects of a week’s worth of rough sleep? You become more effective by choosing carefully what you do attend to.

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.

The Serenity Prayer by Protestant theologian, Reinhold Niebuhr

The Circle of Control

This isn’t a typical time management tool, not a productivity tool, but a mindset to exercise.

When Annoyed, Doodle Your Circle of Control

Come a time that you find yourself annoyed, draw yourself two circles and start to pick out which thoughts or actions are in your control versus in your concern.

You can use this Circle of Control pro-actively to build a game plan for daunting situations such as upcoming meetings or social occasions. Rather than focus on things of your concern, but out of your control (e.g. how someone responds to you), what can you focus on that will increase your sense of control (e.g. different ways to approach people, your body language)? Where might your expectations be based on fear (e.g. that people will only approach you if they’re interested) versus more realistic fact (e.g. that most people are nervous about small talk)?

You can build on your Circle of Control by exploring what expectations your thoughts and actions stem from – “If I do this, then X will happen.”, “They did Y because they think Z”.

The root of annoyance stems from a mismatch in expectations.

Next time– On being Reactive, who dictates your to-do list?

Originally published at

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