Do you recognize the ‘bothered’ feeling? It creeps around, inflames us in our chest and stomach. It can leave us breathless. It is seductive and compelling. It can become compulsive, permanent and destructive. How to stop feeling bothered?
I am bothered. I know. Something bothers me.
I am probably not much different to you. A lot bothers me. A lot that I cannot do much about. A lot that is unnecessary and unfair. A lot that is tragic. A lot that frightens me. And so it goes on…
We all have issues that, when they come knocking on our door, will bother us. We may not realize it immediately. We may not realize it at all. That is when feeling bothered can become tricky.
Those bother issues won’t necessarily throw us into anger and uncontrollable fury or rage. But they will touch that place in us, where we have some unresolved ‘stuff’ or an emotional wound. And when it happens, the old feelings will be triggered again.
Let’s take an example:
Some people get very bothered if the actions of others invade their personal space – noise, personal habits, ignoring your privacy. We may feel bothered when others behave as if we did not exist. And it may be double or triple bothersome, when we feel there is little way of having a sensible conversation about it. Because they will not listen. We feel powerless.
- For some people these situations can start unleashing anger and even aggression, which is sometimes taken out on the other, there and then, or on the next best person. Perhaps the feelings are taken home and acted out there.
- For others, the bother feeling sets in. It stays inside, eating away at inner balance, composure, focus, well-being and a lot else. The bother feeling can fester into irritability and frustration.
Here is a brief guide to dealing with feeling bothered.
I encourage you to tweak it in any way that may work best for you.
A. Notice and observe it
Notice when you start feeling bothered and observe the feeling. It is not always the same and can change over time.
Ex: I am bothered; right now; really bothered. I have been for a while and I have not been able to put my finger on why. It is bubbling away, day and night. My chest hurts, I am in a bad mood.
B. Identify the trigger
Identifying what triggers the bothered feeling can be easy or not.
Ex: When I observe feeling bothered, I switch my mental and emotional radar to ‘extra sensitive’ mode. I quietly observe myself and what is happening, to see whether I can pick up the latest bother trigger. This can go on for days, more or less.
C. Catch it
Catch what has triggered your bothered feeling.
Ex: “Gotcha!” And there it was. I overheard something, and ‘bang’, the bother feeling spiked. I felt it in my stomach, in my chest, in my throat.
D. Understand it
Understand the trigger you have just identified. What is it about?
Ex: I go into my library of memories – recent, old and very old. What does what just happened remind me of? What has happened recently or longer ago, that I have not yet made peace with? Eventually, I find the connection to my stuff that has been activated (eg you may have felt excluded, devalued, humiliated etc).
E. Make a choice
Decide what you are going to do about feeling bothered.
Ex: I feel bothered and I know why. Now, what am I going to do with all that? Sulk and suffer in silence? Have it out and go on the attack? Have a quiet word? Is it worth it, is it not?
Being bothered is a sign that something is going on, that is best understood and dealt with before it turns into, anger, aggression or even self-loathing.
How did I deal with my bothered feeling?
I decided to let it go. I refuse to be bothered, and it feels empowering and that helps emotional healing.
The little self-righteous ‘I am bothered’ itch is still there and I acknowledge it with compassion and an open heart.
The old wound is still there, and that is what it is like.
*This post was originally published on Karin’s blog Between Self and Doubt.
Karin Sieger is a psychotherapist and writer. She specialises in supporting people through anxiety, bereavement and life-changing illnesses like cancer. Her blog is Between Self and Doubt. You can follow her on Twitter and can sign up for her newsletters here. For more information visit KarinSieger.com.