How to get over a bitch eating crackers?
December 4, 2017 9:28 PM   Subscribe

Imagine a person whose every word or action drives you crazy. I know someone like that, and I want to get over it.

It's got to the point that it's more about me than about them - they don't annoy other people, but somehow I've got into the habit of taking everything the wrong way. I get snappy and then stress over it. We'll never be best buddies, but I need to spend less of my time feeling irritated at them. It's not doing either of us any favours. HOW?
posted by superfish to Human Relations (22 answers total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
You pray (or wish) that they get everything in life they want and more.
posted by soakimbo at 9:32 PM on December 4, 2017 [16 favorites]

Make a list of every grace-filled thing that happens to you in a day. Somebody lets you in a lane on the freeway, somebody you don't know smiles at you, somebody ahead of you at the drive through pays for your coffee, anything. Pretty soon, it'll be clear that all of us are just stumbling through except for the kindness of people we don't know. And consequently, none of us is so perfect that we can afford to criticize anybody. It may sound woo-woo, but it's really kindergarten stuff.
posted by CollectiveMind at 9:55 PM on December 4, 2017 [12 favorites]

Every day, note to yourself one thing you like about them. Are they kind to coworkers? Do they volunteer or take care of their parents or children? Are they creative? Do they have good ideas? Do they have freckles and you happen to like freckles?

One little likeable thing each day.
posted by mochapickle at 10:08 PM on December 4, 2017 [5 favorites]

Fantasize about how you'd step up despite your dislike and protect them if something bad happened to them. Make the imagined "bad" slightly more serious than whatever minor revenge you're tempted to feel they deserve. (e.g. imagine defending them if someone took credit for their work, or imagine rescuing them from physical danger, that kind of thing).
posted by xris at 10:10 PM on December 4, 2017 [4 favorites]

What bad subconscious belief about yourself are they stimulating in you?
posted by St. Peepsburg at 10:18 PM on December 4, 2017 [47 favorites]

I belong to a group where the mere mention of one member's name (say, Adrian) sets off another member (Xavier). Xavier's not as well managed as you at keeping his irritation under wraps and so a few of us have pondered why one sets the other off and we think it comes down to what St. Peepsburg above was referencing. You are judging this person, subconsciously probably, for something about them that you either don't like in yourself, or fear becoming, or conflicts with one of your beliefs. In Adrian and Xavier's case, we reckon it's because Adrian is a fat slob (self described) but his personality and energy attract a lot of sexual attention. Xavier, oth, is tall and well built and meticulous. Adrian challenges Xavier's essential belief in himself that he must be of a certain physical standard to attract partners.

Articulate to yourself your worst thoughts about this person - their character, their appearance, their personality, etc - and find which one is the really sore spot. That's the place to do work on yourself.
posted by Thella at 10:56 PM on December 4, 2017 [38 favorites]

Think about how it would make you feel if someone reacted that way to you. I've been on both sides of this page, and my memory of the humiliation and sadness of someone being irritated with me for no reason keeps me patient with others.
posted by frumiousb at 11:50 PM on December 4, 2017 [7 favorites]

A lot of the stuff upthread must be for nobler people than me. I just actively minimized the time I spent near the person in question and made an effort not to spend any time thinking about her and her tedious drama. After a few months of this, I became less obsessed with thinking about how much she sucked and was able to deal with her much more easily.
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:45 AM on December 5, 2017 [26 favorites]

I am not as virtuous as some of the other posters, so I will say this has worked for me.

(a) Feel superior to them. They are not worth the emotional energy you spend on being irritated and their opinions are, at most, mildly amusing. This will help you emotionally disengage.

(b) Keep a silly mental image of them in your mind to call up when you are forced to be in contact with them. Focus on that rather than their words or annoying habits.

Personally, this has actually made me stop getting irritated by particular people.
posted by tavegyl at 12:49 AM on December 5, 2017 [4 favorites]

A thing which works for me on occasion: Being really, really nice to someone who is getting on my last nerve. Somehow, this causes my irritation to dissipate. Often, it's because my nice behaviour brings out the best in the other person. Other times, it's because the energy expended in forcing oneself to be very nice to someone is the same energy that would otherwise be used up in being annoyed by them.
posted by Ziggy500 at 1:50 AM on December 5, 2017 [8 favorites]

For me, once someone reaches BEC status I have to avoid them as much as possible, and just try to ignore them beyond the bare minimum when I do have to work with them.
posted by ocherdraco at 3:06 AM on December 5, 2017 [3 favorites]

Sometimes when my love eats, the sound of his eating is offensive, but not always. Therefore, I have recognised it is not his behaviour but my perception that is the issue. It seems like you feelthat in some ways it is your perception rather than someone else's behaviour that is the difficulty here. If that is the case, here are some things I do:
Remove myself from the vicinity (why should anyone else have to change because of my baggage)
Change my mindset (counting, multiplication, meditation)
Change the situation: add other sounds, eat in different places etc.

The key, I think, is to realise her behaviour is a trigger to your uncomfortable response rather than feeling she is the cause. This gives you agency and control and reduces your (reasonable) feelings of unfairness. It is neither of you's fault (?) But you can solve it by addressing a trigger to your emotional response.
posted by b33j at 3:51 AM on December 5, 2017 [4 favorites]

I had one of these people at work and my irritation at her every movement and word was killing my productivity. I tried to make friends and flip it around, but I only learned she was even more annoying out of work than I'd initially thought. I tried to feel bad for her and do a love and light thing with her annoyingness, a "she can't help it, bless her heart" kind of thing. That didn't work. I tried to blatantly ignore her, but I'm not good at that, and my role at work didn't really allow it. I tried to talk to her manager (my close friend) about what I am missing that might help me see her differently or get some understanding of her Thing and still, nothing. What DID work was getting a private office on the other side of the space so I don't have to hear or see her dithering any more, and blocking her from texting me. I totally still can't stand her and I'm still annoyed during the three seconds I might spend near her in the communal kitchen; I'm not going to pretend that I rose above this. My days are much better now, though.

Some people just rub us the wrong way.
posted by ElectricGoat at 5:07 AM on December 5, 2017 [7 favorites]

I have one of these as a family member, and the eating-crackers arises from a raging case of narcissism. So the thing that helps, well, sometimes is a thought I read on AskMe: look at their cracker-eating behaviours as driven by or symptoms of the mental disease.

It does engender more sympathy than I had previously, though I can't say it's totally changed my outlook.
posted by Dashy at 5:12 AM on December 5, 2017 [2 favorites]

What bad subconscious belief about yourself are they stimulating in you?

SO MUCH THIS. I would have just liked the comment, but I've only very recently learned this thing that St. Peepsburg points out, so it's very fresh and new and I still want to spread the word: If you're carrying around that much irritation with someone, it's about you, and in my case it's exactly what St. Peeps says.

With this particular person, I used to need reassurance every time I'd see them that I was nothing like them (thanks, spouse!), and now this person (a relative, but I'm deliberately not naming relationships) is living with us. Here's what I'm trying to do to get past it:

1. Recognizing similarities in a neutral way, and reflecting on how I feel about those similarities, and how I develop and cope in a different way. Or a similar way.

2. Seeing this as an opportunity for emotional growth (oh my god, the growth that must happen). By which I mean working hard on empathy, and greater learning about how to control how I display my emotions. It's about staying kind and patient even when I feel exactly the opposite.

3. Taking space when I need it.

4. Also seeing it as an opportunity for other kinds of growth. There are a couple of specific things that this person does that I am inclined to do myself, things I don't want to do, and having this person living with us is providing a surprising amount of motivation to change those things.

But it's hard. And honestly if this person was a someone I could avoid, I'd just avoid them, because if it is about someone else displaying all of your worst traits and you finding that problematic, why on earth be close to them? It sounds like you have to, though, just like me, and I wish you a good time with it. I am really hammering on the "opportunity for growth" aspect, myself.
posted by hought20 at 7:30 AM on December 5, 2017 [4 favorites]

P. S. I was reflecting on this just this morning, as the person in question was sitting next to me eating crusty bread and I had to get up and leave the room and they said "Is my eating irritating you?" And I feel this mix of empathy and shame because I, too, have too often internalized and verbalized like this (which, ugh, I hate), but also they were RIGHT, but also it has to suck living with someone who can't always hide their irritation for you.

Anyway. Feel free to memail me if you ever just want to bitch.
posted by hought20 at 7:41 AM on December 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

> A thing which works for me on occasion: Being really, really nice to someone who is getting on my last nerve.

I think this is an excellent suggestion (if avoidance isn't practical).

> Sometimes when my love eats, the sound of his eating is offensive

> I was reflecting on this just this morning, as the person in question was sitting next to me eating crusty bread and I had to get up and leave the room and they said "Is my eating irritating you?"

People, this is not about someone literally eating crackers! It's a meme! Click on the link in the question if you're not familiar with it.
posted by languagehat at 8:00 AM on December 5, 2017 [7 favorites]

What bad subconscious belief about yourself are they stimulating in you?
posted by St. Peepsburg

I'm gonna agree with this too. Believe it or not, my twin sister is my BEC and it's because she personifies so much about myself that lurks under the surface. There's a lot of history between us, but let's just say we chose different paths in life and leave it at that. Still, everything she does makes me twitch because... well because. It doesn't help that she wears my face.

Mostly I just avoid interacting with her as much as possible, and when I do, I'm polite and friendly. But I guess getting to the heart of the problem is the key to solving it.
posted by patheral at 10:27 AM on December 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

I got a new job.
posted by teleri025 at 1:12 PM on December 5, 2017 [2 favorites]

I've found at times that if you have a real conflict/issue with someone that you've left unaddressed for too long, it can morph into that situation where their very existence is irking you.

If there's nothing concrete at the root of it that you could address, I'd try to cultivate some empathy for the person. Take some time to consider their behaviors/personality traits, and think about what could have happened to them in their life to cause them to be/act that way.
posted by gennessee at 3:36 PM on December 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

What usually works for me is avoiding the person as much as possible, and redirecting my attention away from them and their activities in any way possible, even if it means changing my schedule or routine.

But, if you are ready to try something extreme, imagine you have to write their eulogy and want to put a positive spin on their behaviours. Like me, you might find that some of their positive motivations are actually true.
posted by rpfields at 5:16 PM on December 6, 2017

I had a similar perpetual irritation with a guy at work, and it was mutual. This went on for months but resolved amazingly quickly when the company hired someone so horrible that we united in hatred for that guy.

Not probably something you can arrange, but maybe there is some larger enemy you can bond over?
posted by bink at 3:30 PM on January 14, 2018 [2 favorites]

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