We've all been there: when that one particular person continues to piss you off at every opportunity. It's like they have dedicated their time into pushing every button you have, no matter how much you try to move on and get yourself away from them.
What makes it worse is that it seems like they don't even realise how much they're bothering you. Yet they have this superpower over the way you feel and what triggers you.
I've had countless clients come to me with that person in their lives that does a brilliant job of pissing them off. The question they ask me is, "How do I get them out of my mind?" It's like they get to live in your mind rent-free even though they're not in your space or talking to you any more.
Here's the frustrating truth about the people who frustrate you: They're trying to help you. You just don't know it yet.
There's a philosophical notion that everyone around you is a reflection of yourself. Everywhere you look, you see a different angle of yourself. Every time you see someone's behaviour, and it bothers you, you're seeing the same part of yourself that you're bothered by.
Let's use the literal experience of looking into a mirror. Mirrors have been such a profound breakthrough in the human experience because it's helped us to see different parts of our body in the first person. Sure, in the modern age, you can take photos and instantly look at the photo you captured. But before cameras, the only thing you had to go by to see what you looked like was your mirror reflection.
Think about this: without mirrors, would you be able to see your backside? No. You would go your entire life not being able to see your own back or rear without the existence of mirrors.
What does this have to do with the people that bother you?
Mirrors reflect the parts of you that you would otherwise be unable to see. Read that again.
When I say that the world around you is a reflection, what I'm saying is that the people around you, especially those who are pushing all of your buttons, are trying to show you the parts of yourself you can't see.
If You See It, You Have It
Imagine the possibility of having everything inside you that you need to become the person you aspire to be.
You are not missing all of the characteristics and behaviours needed to be you. You're just disowning them. On some level, you're avoiding being you when you judge the various parts of who you are.
When you judge parts of yourself, you minimise and undermine the value these qualities bring to your life. The more you judge them, the more you try to get rid of or avoid expressing these parts of yourself.
Now, this judgment you have of yourself gets expressed when you judge others.
I think you get the point.
Why would something as cruel as this exist in our lives? The same reason the harsh honesty and accuracy of a glass mirror exists. To show us the truth. We have all of the parts that we don't like as much as the parts that we do like.
It helps give a clear and accurate picture of what we're looking at. So, instead of owning only some of the various parts of ourselves that makes us whole, we get to embrace all parts of ourselves. For better or for worse, warts and all.
The Good, The Bad, and The Valuable
The truth is that all parts of us serve a purpose. They wouldn't exist otherwise. Why would the bad or negative qualities exist if they served no purpose and provided no value at all?
If they provide value for you, those qualities that you judge in others provide an equal amount of value in their own lives. Approach your judgments with this perspective, and you'll start to reveal an underlying purpose for the mirror that you detest so much.
So, here's how to take the edge out of the frustration they're causing you. Own where you're doing the same behaviour in your own life.
If you're unwilling to look for where you do the same thing in your own way, then you will continue to face your reflection everywhere you go. Strangers will reflect you, drivers will reflect you, bosses, colleagues, family members and people on social media will all push your buttons until you face the simple truth that you have what you see.
So own the parts of yourself you've been disowning. The more you do this, the more you'll understand people's underlying choices, and you'll find it easier to navigate your own challenges.
Not to mention, the more you resist your reflection, the more power you give to others because they don't even realise that they get to live in your head rent-free.
Own your disowned parts and hand them a grateful eviction notice. They kept your place occupied but now you could use your space back.