Something getting on your nerves?
I’d like to offer an idea for a way that you might be able to deal with some low level annoyances in your life. These would be things that aren’t objectively wrong. There’s nothing technically bad about the situation, but it just gets on your nerves.
Maybe a personality conflict with another co-worker, or someone who just says this particular word or phrase over and over and you’re just like, “Oh, come on, get a new catchphrase.” Something that happens on a regular basis that you don’t have any actual control over, you can’t fix the situation. And maybe it doesn’t necessarily need to be fixed, but it just drives you nuts.
So there’s a thing that sociologists and anthropologists do called ‘participant observer’, where you are part of a situation but you’re also observing the situation as if you’re kind of an outsider but you’re still in it, you’re not apart from it, you are a part, but you’re not as emotionally invested in it. This is a thing that journalists do when they’re covering physically dangerous situations. Maybe they’re a war correspondent, or covering a mob, or a riot, or something like that. And their natural instinct would be to run away, like most people do, but they stay, and they watch, and they record what’s going on in order to be able to report it.
This also, interestingly, is what goes on in drinking games, besides the alcohol, but if you’re waiting for someone to say a particular word and then you drink when they say that word: you’re sort of a part from the situation, you’ve become an observer to it. The really key thing here is that you’re not dissociating but you’re not as emotionally invested in the situation.
Make annoyances a game
So there’s a few different ways that you could do this in the course of just daily life. You could do a sort of drinking game without the alcohol, where, whenever this person says that annoying phrase or word you reward yourself in a particular way. You get to fidget a bit, you get a snack, you get an M&M, you get time off, you get to walk around the room, or you do something that feels good to you but is small. And if you’re in a place where you’re being observed maybe it’s not very conspicuous, but it’s just like, “Ooh, I get my little treat.”
And so you’re almost beginning to start looking forward to them saying that annoying thing because it’s not as annoying. It’s like ‘you get a treat, now it becomes a game.’ Another way you could do it would be maybe make it into a bingo board. You make spaces, fill in the spaces with various annoying things that happen frequently in your workplace and whenever you can get bingo, then you get a treat or something. It’s like you’re looking forward to those annoyances, not in a joyous way, but just in a vindication way or a “Oh, I get my little thingy.”
Another way you could do it is maybe make a list of 10 or 20 different small rewards for yourself. You get ice cream, you get to go for a walk, you get a five minute break, you get to go shoot nerf hoops. Make a list of all sorts of little rewards, and then you roll a die and you get whatever fate gives you. There’s lots of different ways you could do this.
I’d encourage you to find your own experiments, see what works. This isn’t one of those things in life where you have to do it just this way and it doesn’t work. No, make it up! Invent your own, see what works for you. If you hate this idea, feel free to ignore it. If you find that you like it, great might play around with it!