“If someone irritates you, it is only your response that is irritating you.” – Epictetus
This is a difficult thought to process. It can be very, very difficult to ignore when someone is irritating us, especially if they are acting in a manner that we also choose to find offensive. Or what about behavior that is disruptive? Are we really choosing to be irritated by people who are disrupting our work, sleep, or other activity? The answer is yes. We each get to control the thoughts, emotions, and actions of one person; ourselves.
So the next time we find ourselves in a situation where we catch ourselves choosing to become irritated let’s make an effort to ask ourselves, ‘can I ignore this and carry on?’ If the answer is yes, then do so. If the answer is no, then gently approach the other person and explain to them how you are being interrupted. Keep in mind we do not control their response to our request and we may not like the response we get. That is also our choice and quite possibly our own fault. Were we not gentle enough? Could we have been more clear with our concern? Could we have been more understanding? These are all possibilities and we can use this experience to guide us the next time we decide to be irritated or not. And there will almost definitely be a next time.
virtus fortis vocat