the true cause of irritation

Having lived across different cultures, among different people, and under different circumstances, it was not too long ago that I started to realize that when I find certain places, people, things or environments to be irritating or annoying, it’s not their fault, it’s actually mine. Because in all these different variations, I am the common denominator. People, places and things inherently are what they are. It’s my opinion or judgment of them that causes me irritation, annoyance, and suffering. As the Indian Jesuit priest Anthony de Mello writes in his book The Way to Love, “The cause of my irritation is not in this person but in me.”

No matter where we are, who we are in proximity with, and what we are going through, we are always the one in control. Nothing or no one is either ‘good’ or ‘bad’, but it’s our opinion of that or them that dictates what feelings birth inside us. And that’s why it’s so important to take charge of our perception and our emotions, because ultimately we are in control of what and how we think, feel and love. As Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman write in The Daily Stoic, “The cause of irritation — or our notion that something is bad — comes from us, from our labels or our expectations. Just as easily, we can change those labels; we can change our entitlement and decide to accept and love what’s happening around us.”