Tag Archives: Annoyance

Having Your “No” and Eating it Too

Do you ever find yourself in the position where a person asks or expects you to do something you do not want to do but you end up doing it anyway? If so, do you find yourself becoming resentful with that person? If you answered yes to these questions you need to learn how to say NO.

(1)   If you can’t say no you become resentful.

I used to work in an office. I became friendly with a co-worker and we started going to lunch every day. After a while I began to feel obligated to go to lunch with her. I felt like if I got up and went to lunch by myself I would somehow be insulting her or hurting her feelings. So for a long time I went along with this situation. It was easier just to maintain the pattern than it was to stand up for myself and say I did not want to do this. But over time I found myself becoming resentful. At first I noticed I was becoming annoyed with her. Little things she did like flicking her pen started to irritate me. Later on this developed into anger. At the time I did not make the connection between not being able to say no to her and this irritation that was developing.

(2)   If you learn to say no and “own it” you will notice a sudden release of tension.

Finally the resentment and the irritation reached a point where I just started going to lunch on my own. It felt wrong at first. I felt like an anti-social jerk. But after a while I noticed that I was becoming less annoyed and resentful with her. Gradually I began to make the connection that this resentment was directly related to my inability to say no to her. Even though my no at this point was sort of passive aggressive it allowed for the space for the tension to release.

(3)   If you can’t say no you will never be able to say yes.

From there, over time I began to feel more entitled to my right to say no to things I did not want to do. True, there are obligations in life and I am not advocating saying no to everything you do not want to do, but if you cannot say no at least some of the time you will never truly be able to say yes whole heartedly. You will only say yes grudgingly and with resentment. When you are able to say no and own it (i.e., feel entitled to say no without worrying so much about hurting someone’s feelings which comes with practice) then you will have the space to pick the things you really want to do and then say yes with your whole heart.

I think this is really important. On an airplane they instruct you to put on your own oxygen mask first before you put on the oxygen mask of a child. To someone who is afraid to say no, this instruction might strike them as selfish and wrong. But if you don’t take care of yourself first you may be able to take care of other people in the short run but not in the long run.

Saying no to something you do not want to do is like putting on your oxygen mask first. If you find yourself becoming annoyed and resentful of someone, I invite you to perform an experiment and say no to that person. Really try to feel entitled to that no. Don’t let yourself feel bad or at least be aware of this bad feeling. See if over time you become less resentful. If so, know that you have put on your oxygen mask. You will then be able to have your yes and put on their oxygen mask if need be.

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Other People’s Eating Noises Annoy Me Under Certain Circumstances

I hate hearing other people’s eating noises at what I consider to be inappropriate times and places. I used to work with this older guy who sat in a cubicle across the aisle from me. Anytime he pulled out a cracker or a lozenge I quickly put on my head phones and blasted whatever I could in my ears so that I did not have to listen to him. To be caught off guard and actually hear him eat would trigger me so badly I would actually feel rage. Now I work from home and my desk is near the kitchen. Sometimes when I am booting up my computer in the morning my wife will walk into the kitchen and eat a granola bar. This also triggers  me in the same way I get triggered when I hear other people talking in movie theaters.

On the other hand, eating noises do not annoy me when I am sitting at the dinner table unless they are over the top slurping or extra loud chewing.

The common thread to all this is shame based judgment. The idea is that other people cannot control themselves and act responsibly in social situations. They are violating the social contract and degrading civilization. As such, I sit in judgment of them in the hopes that they will feel ashamed of themselves. The idea behind this is that since feeling ashamed is unpleasant, the person will associate feeling ashamed with the irresponsible behavior and then stop doing it. Shame based law enforcement is completely passive aggressive in its methods. At this point in my life I am well aware that this energy in me also existed in my parents and was passed down from them to me by the way they brought me up.

When I am triggered, my reaction is strong. Even if I am aware that I am being triggered it is hard not to act on being triggered. This makes me understand how my parents could not control their impulses when I annoyed them by acting in a way that seemed irresponsible or disrespectful. It was their uncontrolled impulses that instilled this urge in me to enforce shame based law enforcement on other people. I try to be vigilant about not passing this heritage on to my children. When they were younger I was unaware of this dynamic so I am sure that some of the energy was passed along. I can take comfort in the knowledge that what I have passed along to my children is much less than what was passed on to me.

There really is nothing wrong with a person eating at their desk or in a kitchen. They are not actively trying to violate me or disrespect my boundaries when they do this. It is my reaction to the situation that is problematic. I do not blame myself for this reaction because it was programmed into me by my upbringing. I cannot be held responsible for that, but I am responsible for being aware of it and making an effort not to pass it on to others.

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