(138) How to Stop Being Irritated (by that dog, jackhammer or crazy party)

Updated: Apr 22, 2019

Life lesson?

A high-pitched bark shattered the afternoon quiet. A new mutt in the next yard. Yapping with a ridiculous ferocity.

It went on for hours, and when I finally went out and looked over the fence, he was barking at a bug!

The next morning, he started again, early, and kept at it for most of the day. He would stop briefly but then start again, as if his life depended on it.

Day after day it went on. Not all day, but far beyond my limits, and I found myself sending more than a few negative thoughts toward him, the neighbor and life in general.

I couldn’t understand why THEY were not bothered! What was wrong with them! Just shut him up!! Please!!!

For a long, long time, that dog irritated me to no end. And then one afternoon, I realized he had not been barking for a while. A few days!

And my next thought was Did he die? Oh, please God!

Later that day, I heard him barking again. The noise was just as piercing; he went on for just as long; and I realized that he had never stopped!

It was me that had stopped hearing him!

After that, he did sometimes irritate me, but after a few minutes, his noise would again fade into the background.

How did it happen, this miracle? I will tell you, but you are probably not going to like it.

Whether the noise is a barking dog, loud party or jack hammer, it is not the noise that bothers us, but the negative feelings that it brings up.

Of course, we want to stop those feelings, so we automatically tighten up (body and breath) against them. We struggle (desperately?) to distract ourselves, to do or to think about ANYthing else.

Here is the part you might not like.

The only way to stop feeling that way is to get rid of the feelings; which means, to stop fleeing and distracting; and instead, start facing and accepting.

Feel what you do not want to feel, or you will continue to feel it for the rest of your life.

3 Steps to Freedom

1 Give the noise permission to be there—to be loud and irritating (I know, crazy, but try it anyway).

2 Relax: each time you breathe out, release more tension from your body. Relax yourself in spite of the noise.

3 And let yourself feel (awful?), as you continue to breathe out the tension.

Every moment you relax while feeling negative releases that much more. And, yes, there will come a time when the awful noise (dog or otherwise) no longer bothers you.

Oh, and if your mind skips away every few seconds, gently bring yourself back to relaxing and feeling.

No, it is not easy, and if in the midst of this process you feel like screaming in frustration, do it. That too is a good release.

The Struggle

Amidst the loud chaos of our daily life, Mom single-handedly raised three wild boys and a girl (before disposable diapers, instant dinners and automatic dishwashers).

It was not until long after her death I realized the depth of her struggles; with us, yes, but even more her battles with smoking, weight gain and alcohol.

Mom fought, failed and fought again; only to fail again. She eventually won, but every step was a long, hard struggle.

If you have failed a resolution (and who hasn’t?), you remember the negative feelings. My own failures include guilt, shame and, of course, a loss of self-esteem.

She Was Forced to Struggle

Isaac Newton's third law: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Kick the can and the can moves—every time.

And it is the same for us humans. Any extended period of discomfort (like dieting or exercise) causes a reaction, an inner-resistance that pushes back.

Which is why Mom kept quitting: every diet she tried included missing out on her favorite foods, as well as some hunger.

For her, more exercise meant long (boring?) walks. Even with a friend, it never lasted long.

And the harder she pushed to keep going, the more inner-resistance she created, until she could not push anymore. And quit.

I wish I could have taken some of her pain, shown her that the changes she wanted so desperately did not have to be a struggle.

Free: make your most difficult resolution permanent, with these four concepts.

Click here to send it directly to your inbox:

Permanent Resolutions Without the Struggle

And here are some immediate things you can do to stop a barking dog (from Life Hacker):


Forgive yourself and stop new guilt too:


The very foundation of personal improvement is self-care/self-love. At this link: https://www.danielsperaw.com/blog/the-essence-of-personal-improvement

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