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.

Starting in 2012 I began quickly jumping apartments due to sound. For some reason sound paralyzed me, and at the time I had no idea why. The 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.

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.

I couldn’t keep raising the bar and placing my faith in the external realm. I had to take control.

Realizing that I had essentially two choices:

1). To continue avoiding the annoyance that hunted me down everywhere

2). Do something about it and rise above it.

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 am still not entirely there yet, but I am almost there. The reality is I might not ever fully overcome the temporary irritation I feel when I hear annoying sounds, but that’s just it — the annoyance is fleeting, whereas once before it was consuming.

I now gain control over my thoughts and focus, instead of allowing the irritation to control me. It’s still an ongoing battle for me on some days, and some are better than others, but I will not give up, and neither should you.

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?

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.

2). What’s a word I can say when I hear that noise?

I chose “safe.” Or more specifically “I am Safe.”

Years of hiding and surviving have made my brain create an association with that noise 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. 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.

3). What is the blessing? Where can you find the gratitude?

Nowadays, when I hear my neighbors producing the very obnoxious I look for the blessings. 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 be 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. For me, I start to write. I begin to do something that will fully engage me.

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.

5). How do you want to respond?

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 than 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 me, 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 of the sound to more comfortably by just a hair — I feel empowered and liberated.

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.

These are just some of many ways to reframe your life annoyances, and if these don’t work look for others or shoot me an email at: Elizbeth@ElizabethLouis.com

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.

- Elizabeth