Some people are just naturally unbothered, while others have to work at it. No matter which side of the fence you fall on, there is little to no chance that nothing at all gets under your skin.
If you are hoping to learn how to not let things bother you, consider taking a deep dive into what that looks like for you specifically, instead of general practices.
Once you know yourself on a deeper level, you can manage this part of your life more efficiently.
Often we have trouble solving problems because we unintentionally start somewhere in the middle instead of at the root. Taking shortcuts may be a good temporary fix, but it is essential to go below the surface for sustainable change.
Make proper identifications
Nobody can tell you exactly what you should or should not feel bothered by; that is an incredibly personal concept. This also means that you must be the one to do the work.
Identify what things bother you consistently, then assess whether that they have merit or not.
How do you react?
Pay attention to how you react. Are your own reactions mainly mental, or are you experiencing physical and emotional responses as well? Are you just being an overly sensitive person?
This will help you assign proper weight to each situation. If something bothers you daily, like, that your roommate does not hang up their towels in the bathroom, but you brush it off and get over it within seconds, that reaction does not warrant a high level of your energy.
On the contrary, suppose you have a constantly untidy roommate who leaves food around to rot and attract bugs, leading you to feel bothered physically. In that case, you should probably address this situation.
In some cases, it is almost impossible to not let things bother you. As humans, we typically need a process and an approach when something has been festering for some time.
Identify triggers and triggering situations
In the same fashion that you note your reactions, pay attention to your surroundings when these feelings come about.
Individual triggers and triggering situations are almost always part of a pattern, and if you notice feeling the same way in certain situations each time you are in them, that is a trigger.
Here are some common ways to determine if you are being triggered by someone or something:
- Sudden mood changes in one direction or another could be an indication of being triggered. A spike in your mindset and attitude are directly related to your immediate surroundings.
- Your heart starts pounding, or you feel/appear flush. When your body responds by surging energy to your heart, causing it to beat faster than usual, or a rush of blood through your veins causes you to blush, get a hot flash, or even form hives.
- Sudden but extreme discomfort. Suppose you go from feeling comfortable to uncomfortable on a significant level in a short period. In that case, that is a prime example of your mind telling you that something feels unsavory.
- Strong emotional responses such as:
- Body numbness
- Emotionally out of control
- Negative thoughts and negative emotions
Things to come to terms with
Sometimes situations bother you in the present moment, and when that happens, it is critical to understand that we don’t have to sweat the small stuff. Somethings are just a part of life and even a qualified mental health professional would be hard-pressed to avoid.
1. You have little to no control
Do not take a situation at face value because you always have control over yourself. However, when things bother you, it is important to remember that if they are annoying things coming from another person or a specific event, etc., you cannot change other people.
For example, you are at a fast-food restaurant and the line is excruciatingly long and it bothers you. While you cannot control the speed at which it moves, or the number of people in front of you, you can take control of your response: either you take a deep breath and wait in line or just move along and go somewhere else.
2. You may never be fully unbothered
If you are seeking to be in a state where nothing bothers you ever, under any circumstances, you may be in the dark about how unrealistic of a possibility that is. Keep in mind that if you know someone who appears never to let anything get to them, they have likely just mastered troubleshooting these situations, not how to make them disappear completely.
3. Some issues may hinge on something else
This is why taking inventory is encouraged.
When we take things personally, it is because they are just that, personal.
Consider the possibility that what you are articulating as bothersome to you is, in fact, just a scapegoat for something else. In romantic relationships, this is incredibly common.
For example, it may bother you that your partner never cleans the house, but the root of this feeling may be a lack of cohesion in your lives across the board, which is only being shown to you through menial examples, like daily chores.
Great tips for coping with the small things
As we walk through our daily lives, it is important to have tools on hand to help us. When little things come across your path, and irritate you, here are some ways to get them out of your path.
1. Do absolutely nothing
Sometimes no reaction is the best reaction, specifically if the situation is small or insignificant and an expected part of daily life.
If you can teach yourself the skill of non-reaction, you are going to be better for it.
Pay attention on how you flex this muscle. Becoming disengaged is not something that you are going to want in the long run.
Learn what it feels like to ignore something minor first rather than being totally being ignorant of something heavier and more significant.
2. Do not overdramatize
When a situation does require you to react, work your hardest to assign a level of reaction that is in line with the circumstance at hand.
If you are talking about events that bother you after the fact, be sure that you are retelling the story as it happened. The main reason for this is if you over exaggerate, it can cause you to be even more upset.
If you make a big deal out of something that was not as big as you made it out to be, you are sabotaging your chances of having the feelings of irritation fade away. Here are some examples of over dramatizations:
- When you order a sandwich at a restaurant with no tomatoes, but it arrives at your table with tomatoes, and you later tell a friend, “The service was terrible, I could not even eat my food, and I don’t think the restrooms were clean.”
- When someone is late to meet you, and you paint the picture afterward like “They were 30 minutes late arriving, I was starving, I almost forgot my purse and traffic was terrible.”
Yes, these are very specific examples, but they give you a general idea of how making a mountain out of a molehill can ruin the entire day for you and the person listening to your story.
3. Be positive in general
If your default setting is positive and happy, you will naturally be less bothered. This can also help you understand that you make your own mistakes and so does everyone else. As such, you takes them all in stride.
The brighter your outlook, the less hurtful things will affect you. This is one of the best tips for increasing your overall happiness as well.
4. Be gracious and empathic
It may seem counterintuitive that a way to cope with something external bothering you is to give grace, but it is a great way to deal with the situation.
This does not mean turning a blind eye or ignoring things that happen. Instead, it means that if you can handle situations on a human level, you will be better for it. This works specifically in circumstances where you want to know how to not be bothered by what another person is causing.
If the other person lacks the self-awareness to recognize what they are doing, it takes practice, but show them patience. Giving people a chance to readjust themselves without you jumping down their throat will create a better opportunity for long-term progress.
5. Walk away and take a break
If the situation feels heated, either inside your mind/body or within an interaction with another person, walk away. There is no reason you cannot take a break from the negative energy that can consume you. So collect yourself and find a peaceful and respectful resolve.
Sometimes operating under the assumption that situations have to be handled right away can lead to saying or doing something that we will later regret.
Coping with the big things
Not all situations are created equal, and sometimes you must give more of yourself than you anticipated.
According to the American Psychological Association, there are healthy ways to handle stress that you need to be aware of.
When a person, event, situation, etc., is affecting you on a large scale, you likely have to employ more coping mechanisms than the tactics mentioned above.
1. Do not apologize for how you feel
Do not apologize for how you feel especially if you are in a bad mood or feeling burdened by someone else’s words or actions. Doing so is subliminally stating that you no longer believe your feelings matter to you or to someone else, even if you have been vocal about them.
This can happen as a result of low self-esteem. When you cannot stop worrying about the optics of a tricky situation, you may try to downplay the level at which it took a toll on you just to keep the peace.
If you hope to build up your self-confidence, start by learning the difference between saying sorry for your words or actions and your feelings.
2. Do not be a sponge for other people’s problems
Is it possible that you are letting other people’s problems bother you? If you want to understand how to not let things bother you, you should start by recognizing if you are absorbing other people’s problems.
Supporting a loved one does not have to come at the price of your sanity. Start living with boundaries and not let someone else’s problems become yours.
3. Do not cover up your feelings
If you are intentionally shoving your feelings aside, stop now.
Who do you believe is benefiting from this? Do you know that this habit can lead to you letting the little things that you never even noticed start to impact you?
When we refuse to face our emotions head-on, that is our mind’s indirect way of convincing us that we are not worth the effort.
4. Have an ally
Having an ally or a trusted confidant that you can be vulnerable around with will provide immediate help.
Knowing that this person will listen, offer support, not judge, and put you in check when/if needed is priceless. When big things cross your path, and you do not see clearly, having an ally means you benefit from an outside perspective that you already trust.
So regardless of the issue at hand, you know they have your best interests at heart when they offer advice or solutions.
5. Limit screen time
When things are happening in the world, it is human nature that they bother us on some level. However, when your screen time is so excessive that you become overwhelmed and can no longer separate yourself from particular situations, it is time to turn off your devices.
This can be especially helpful with high-attention court cases, political uproar, or the aftermath of a controversial sporting event. If you stop letting screens take over your ability to form your own opinions, you will find that other things bother you less as a result.
6. Practice discretion
There is an adage ‘keep it private until it’s permanent,’ and that can be a good rule of thumb to go by.
When you choose to practice discretion with your personal choices, you are protecting yourself from outsiders trying not to let your moment happen.
For example, if you have a loved one that has never fully supported your career, maybe you do not share changes in your job with them.
Other people do not have to work for your boss, complete your tasks, and live off your salary, and you can stop letting them breed negativity by electing to share less information.
7. Believe in something bigger
Perhaps for you, this means religion, or simply spirituality, or maybe you do not know at all what it means for your life, but you like the idea of a higher being.
No matter your persuasion on this topic, if you believe in something bigger out there, bigger than yourself and your current life’s circumstances, you will find that you have an overall happier life.
When this is your focus, you can deal with not letting things bother you more peacefully.
8. Consider professional help
You are the only one who can determine if professional help is, or is not, the best thing for you. But if you are curious about ways that informed professional advice can lead you to a world where you stop letting things bother you, you owe it to yourself to explore that.
There are also options to speak with mental health professionals to help you with your specific circumstances.
Keep an active log of your triggers, what bothers you, how you feel, etc., before your first appointment. This category list can help the professional target the ‘why’ behind things that bother you and create a plan to combat them, specific to your needs.
Self-care tips for when you are too caught up
When you are spinning and you cannot stop letting things bother you, here are a few self-care suggestions that you can test out to see if adding them to your daily lifestyle can prevent you from having a moment like that in the future.
- Epsom salt bath – This mineral will naturally detox your body and relax you from a holistic perspective. Sometimes when our bodies are still, that gives way for our minds to be as well.
- Aromatherapy showers – You can purchase products containing aromatherapy scents you enjoy, burn candles while you shower, or even use essential oils to make discs that you can place in the shower with you that are activated by steam to release the calming scents.
- Exercise – Regular exercise will help your mind and body operate at their peaks, but if you deal with things that bother you, even ten quick jumping jacks can get your blood pumping more productively.
- Go outside – There is so much research that supports nature as a healing property. Natural light and fresh air can go a long way towards helping you unwind when you are bothered.
- Meditation – The practice of mindful stillness and breathing is a tried and true way to be in the moment.
- Unplug – Take a break from devices. This means no TV, cell phone, reading tablet, etc. There are too many possibilities for these devices to accelerate your issues.
You can read as many counselor-related articles as you want, but if you do not make an effort to put their research into practice, you have little hope of a life unaffected by whatever is happening around you.
Big or small, think about the positivity that will come with releasing the burden of a bothered life. Pay attention to how you feel as you try out different methods and be honest about what does and does not work.
Understand that there are no timelines or blueprints for getting yourself to the other side.