People That Bother You Most
Bill Cottringer

“Like the herd of animals we are, we sniff warily at the strange one among us.” ~ Loren Eisely

Our success quest in life involves the paramount challenge of learning how to get along with other people. However, the reality of people being unique and different the way they are, doesn’t make this very easy. There are certain types of people who bother me most and I suspect this may be generally true for all of us. Here is my short list of people who bother me most:

People Who Are Opposite Me On Core Beliefs.

This is the toughest group of people for me to deal with and that escalates with the seriousness and importance of the issues. At any rate, I think the more I work at finding out what is really true and important in life and work, the more annoying other people, who don’t agree, can be. This is an amusing paradox—the more tolerant you become, the more intolerant you are with intolerance. I seem to get in most trouble when I take myself too seriously.

Getting past this annoyance requires the realization that there really are just three kinds of people in the world—people who think, feel and act ‘this’ way, those who lean ‘that’ way, and those who go both, neither or some other way. If you have to have a purpose in this ‘oppositeness,’ try this one: If you have in fact figured out what is really true, right, important and worthwhile in life and someone else disagrees, taking an opposite perspective, maybe they just serve the purpose of either validating your rightness or challenging you to prove yourself.

Besides that, a belief is only a belief about something—it’s not the “something” itself. Words do get in the way with communication. Also, we all have different experiences in life, so why wouldn’t we all have different beliefs. And if my beliefs are so right and work so well for me, I have enough to keep me busy applying them in my own life, rather than trying to debate them or waste my time feeling uncomfortable when there is disagreement.

If I believe in things like God, optimism, my own infinite possibilities, heroes, absolute morality, generosity, virtues, success principles or anything else, then all I need to do is enjoy life living these things. I really don’t need to feel bothered by someone else who chooses to be atheistic, cynical, reactionary, selfish, immoral, or be ‘right’ any other way in their mind and heart. And maybe I can make progress by getting out of the habit of using such judgmental words—in my favor and their disfavor, including these two.

People Who Are Too Much Like Me.

A certain amount of similarity and compatibility is a good thing, but too much, as well as too little, can easily get on your nerves, especially the part that resembles things you are trying to grow past. Every once in while you need to be challenged to keep learning, growing and improving, in order to keep from getting stagnant and bored. It is odd that most of the time it is the differences that annoy us with other people, but there is truth in the saying that “familiarity breeds contempt.”

When I find myself being annoyed by this group of people, I have three options: (a) I can continue to work up more annoyance and even communicate it (b) I can ask questions and try to learn from the other person (c) I can realize that I probably have too much time on my hands and should be worrying about something else that is more of a priority, or (d) I can accept that I don’t have a patent on being “my” way and allow some company. I prefer all but the first choice.

People Who Are Too Much Like I Used To Be.

Disliking people because they are now at a place on their journey that I managed to grow past, is so unfair. Why would I let them bother me? I turned out okay, don’t I have enough faith in life and people for that same good outcome to happen again? And maybe they are enjoying playing the particular role they are learning about, without being motivated to grow past it? Maybe they don’t even need to be in this great place I think they should want to? Or is it that I just want some company?

The group of people under this category that bother me most are those who seem to be struggling to stand out and get noticed by being so different, unique and successful from everyone else, just like I used to be and probably annoyed a lot of other people along the way. The truth is, at the same time, we are all both very different and unique from one another with our fingerprints, retinas, hair follicles and DNA, but also very similar in our basic needs of being accepted, recognized, loved, made to feel important, belonging and being successful. Accepting our own paradoxical human behaviors and living the solutions we learn the hard way, is probably the only way to get along with other people reminding us of ourselves from the past.

What other kinds of people bother you and why? What are you doing to get past the annoyance? Remember the saying of the great philosopher Epictetus: “It is not the things in life that bother us, but rather our opinion about these things.”

Author's Bio: 

William Cottringer, Ph.D is President of Puget Sound Security in Bellevue, WA. He also engages in photography, sport psychology counseling, business success coaching and writing in his home in the scenic and peaceful mountains and rivers of North Bend. He is author of several personal and professional development books including You Can Have Your Cheese & Eat It Too (Executive Excellence Publishing), The Bow-Wow Secrets (Wisdom Tree), “P” Point Management and Do What Matters Most (Atlantic Publishers), and Reality Repair: Fixing a Lot by Knowing a Little. Bill can be contacted with comments and questions at (425) 454-5011 or