Reframing your Annoyances:
Enough is enough. I can’t keep moving. I can’t keep running.
It’s time to face reality. It’s time to let go. It’s time to declare the truth. Are you ready?
Starting back in 2012, I began quickly jumping apartments due to multiple reasons, but one of the main ones came down to noise. For some reason sound used to paralyze me, and at the time I had no idea why. The low bass like noises would send me into a frenzy and make me freeze unable to move. It took me years to understand why I reacted that way. However, in hindsight, I always knew the why. I was merely avoiding the reality and not bringing the pain to light. Without bringing the pain to light, I was unable to face it, digest it, and finally process it once and for all.
As I grew more awareness around my noise sensitivity, I realized it was not just noise my neighbors produced that I found bothersome. It could be any irritating noise. Like when you are sitting in a meeting, and your co-worker won’t stop clicking the pen or when a child is fidgeting with something that makes an obnoxious sound.
I figured in 2017, if I moved to a house, I would finally be free, but that too was a lie. The lie I told myself was, “once I move into a house no one will be able to irritate me with their obnoxious noise.” Well, unless I was never going to be around people or have friends or family over that lie was never going to be true!
Quickly, due to neighbors with children who played loudly, I found myself saying a new lie, “If I could just move to the country with lots of acres, I’d finally have peace.” While the country probably brings more peace, there is no guarantee that the noise – the noise that paralyzes me will be absent. That’s when I decided to normalize the sound, and let God show me how to be content and peaceful where I am.
I couldn’t keep raising the bar and placing my faith in the external realm. I had to place my trust fully in Jesus.
What perspective shift do you need to trust Jesus more? Remember, He wants to carry the yoke with you, you do not have to do it alone!
Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
Realizing that I had essentially two choices:
1). To continue avoiding (and adding to my suffering) the annoyance that hunted me down everywhere
2). Do something about it and rise above it through the power of Jesus Christ
I chose the latter.
I will admit, at first I was not as successful as I hoped I’d be. But, over time I continued pressing in and pushing through. I maintained my focus on Jesus and kept choosing to see what originally annoyed me in a different view. I am still not entirely there yet, but certainly not where I was originally. The reality is I might not overcome the temporary irritation I feel when I hear annoying sounds in the time frame I want, but I know with time, focus, and walking with Jesus the sound will not bother me. Guess what? Over time the annoyances became fleeting, whereas once before it was consuming.
Maybe this will be helpful and maybe it will not, but we must hold in our heart this truth:
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
- 1 Corinthians 10:13
Responding in anger or anyway outside of love is a temptation. It’s tempting to be reactive instead of to respond wisely. 1 Corinthians 10:13 is a breath of fresh air, reminding us we all have similar temptations, and we all can overcome the temptation through God. In fact, God knows you can overcome the temptation and be more godly, but it takes renewing of the mind and realizing a reaction is just as much of a choice as responding is.
The enemy comes to destroy, kill and rob (John 10:10). The thief wants to take anything and everything he can from you, especially your peace. “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). The enemy is looking to piss you off and more, but we do not have to give into him. It’s a choice. Therefore, we can cast the enemy out – tell him to go – and we can return our focus to Jesus and live as He encourages us too.
I now gain control over my thoughts and focus, instead of allowing the irritation to control me. When I notice myself getting irritated, I first pray to God, and then I say, “In the name of Jesus, I claim my peace and I choose to not be annoyed by this. I am focusing on you, God.” When you call out to Jesus, He will answer. Sometimes it is not when or how we wish, but God has a purpose for you (Jeremiah 29:11). We must choose to trust God and lean on Him (Romans 8:28).
The following questions helped me to move forward, to move past the annoyance allowing me to take control of my life. I encourage you to ask yourself the same questions and brainstorm them on paper.
1). What is causing you to respond with those behaviors and not love?
For instance for me, loud like noises sound similar to when my biggest abuser was coming to hurt me. My brain would respond by triggering me to begin surviving (looking for a place to hide or things to protect myself with, whether that was words or things to use) the millisecond the cue hit that neural pathway. My brain took over doing what it naturally knows how to do, survive, but that’s the issue. As I grew older safety became closer. However, my brain due to years of walking down that synaptic nerve connection did not turn off. What did I do? I had to renew my mind through the power of Jesus Christ (Romans 12:2). I had to consciously choose to let my God be bigger than my fears (1 John 4:18).
2). What’s a word I can say when I hear that noise?
I chose “safe.” Or more specifically “I am Safe.” As I progressed, I chose the following phrase that really helped me: “ I let the peace of God rule in my heart and I refuse to worry about anything (Colossians 3:15).”
Years of hiding and surviving have made my brain create an association with certain noises to danger. Immediately I respond in my survival part of my brain. My senses and focus would lock in on the decibels and vibration the sound would make. But, now I remind myself I am safe and I am loved by the most high, and he does not want me afraid or worried (Romans 8:37-39). That noise means nothing because that abuser is not here. I am safe. I am secure. Nothing can hurt me. Sometimes I allow myself to sit and listen to the noise, breathing deeply and allowing my body to remain at peace. In psychology, we call this exposure therapy, but please talk to your health provider before doing this.
3). What is the blessing? Where can you find the gratitude?
Nowadays, when I hear my neighbors producing the very obnoxious sound or disturbances I would prefer not to hear, I look for the blessings. I look for a new perspective that comes from a place of love, not anger or fear. For instance, I find it beautiful to watch the father and son laughing and engaging with one another. Sometimes, I think well maybe this will help him achieve his dreams and aspirations. It’s amazing how quickly your self-talk, physiology, and spirit shifts when you zone in on the gratitude. Your brain and mind cannot get upset when it’s grateful!
4). What can you focus on now?
Redirecting your focus can be difficult, but it can be done. The goal here is to not give up, but to continuously keep working at it (Galatians 6:9). We know we are going to face difficulties here on earth, Jesus was quite clear about that (John 16:33).
For me, I start to write. I begin to do something that will fully engage me. I typically write my prayers to God or write about scripture I can apply to life. When writing does not work, I take my perspective to the highest place I can go. “Set your minds on thing that are above, not on thing that are on earth” (Colossians 3:2). I look for the spiritual truth in the matter. Where is satan lying to me? Where am I seeing things earthly? I check-in with myself to see if I am seeing things worldly or godly because in my experience when you can look at life with godly eyes it’s easier to identify what is truthfully going on, especially when you consult your Bible. The things that irritate me or annoy me, and even you, are typically the things of earth. When I focus on how God would want me to handle something, it is easier to respond as He does.
Few activities capture an entire person’s being, and if you started to really think about the tasks that gets all of your focus, you’d also know that you stop focusing or paying attention to what’s around you. I get busy doing those activities. And on days where it ’s terrible, and I’m struggling to redirect my focus, I put earplugs in followed by my noise-canceling headphones and read a book. The last thing I’ll do is leave my house. I can be known to be a homebody, so on those awful days; I get busy getting active outside my home. I find the potential opportunity instead of focusing on the what I don’t like.
5). How do you want to respond?
“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”
This question is powerful because this is the seed you will need to start planting. For me, I look forward to not having sounds bother me. I want to be able to enjoy life regardless of my environment. If joy is produced inside then I want my joy to be so intense that whatever is happening externally will not hinder my internal world at all. I want my joy to be so strong it’s contagious to others.
If you really start to think about it, when you get all upset and angry because someone isn’t responding the way you want them to respond, is it worth it? I don’t think so. I hate how I feel. I hate how the tension and anger grows, overtaking all of my muscles and energy like a vine of ivy. Instead, I want to respond with joy. I want to train my mind to always identify the blessing and allow that to overtake my mind, body, and spirit.
6). What does letting go of this mean for your life?
Wow. Talk about a powerful question. What does letting go of the thing that annoys you look like? For something TO BE annoying to you, you have to give it power.
“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
- James 4:7
For me, I personally do my best to not let the enemy win. It’s the serenity that can never be taken away from me. I cannot control people, but I can control myself. I know the things I can do and have available for me on the rough days. But, on those good days where I am able to normalize the discomfort, even if it is increasing the comfort by just a hair – I feel empowered and liberated.
“He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God;”
- Psalm 46:10
Imagine for a second how much more bandwidth, energy, and joy you would have if you would not allow the annoyance to overcome you? Would it be worth it?
I think and know it is.
I encourage you to start reframing your annoyances now. Don’t wait any longer. Life is short. Embrace the beauty; find the blessings, and spread the joy.