It’s very common basic spiritual and psychological advice that ‘That which annoys me in others is a mirror of what I need to look at in myself’. (@verna_maruata) Well, I thought I’d look at that a bit more today.
I think it’s probably true: what annoys us in other people is likely to be something we need to look at in ourselves. However I do think it’s too easy to say that it’s always something we mirror onto other people. When I’m annoyed at someone who doesn’t schedule very well, that doesn’t necessarily mean I schedule badly myself. It might just mean that I have a need for more structure than they do. Or they need more freedom to change things at the last moment than I do.
I do think there is a fundamental truth here though: what annoys is in others tells us something about ourselves. For instance it tells me I need structure and a minimum amount of predictability. I want people to tell me in advance, say a week in advance, whether appointments we made are going to be kept. I prefer things to not change at the last moment.
With less and less social constraints, planning, how we respond to people, what’s considered ‘normal behavior’ are all becoming less and less fixed. These things vary by the social circles we travel in and the practical circumstances in our lives.
My planning example for instance is very different for people with full agendas than for people with lots of time on their hands. Those are practical constraints. What matters however is how you deal with such things emotionally. Do you get annoyed or can you let it go easily? That’s the emotional factor.
Differences in style can be difficult to deal with. The easiest sollution is, of course, to just drop that person that has a different style from yours. Whether that is too high a price to pay is another question. In many cases it’s wiser to just learn to live with the small annoyances of daily life. If it’s an important issue for you, communicating it clearly is vital. That way the two of you can figure out where you stand on the issue. Perhaps the other person can accomodate you, make appointments in advance more, for instance.
The bottom line is to only make a big deal of the things that really are a big deal to you. Perhaps it’s a form of wisdom not to have too many things you consider ‘big deals’. Or is that too simplistic?