You know those people who just irk you? The ones you can hardly stand to be around for more than a few hours — or more than even a few minutes?
Sometimes, you can’t really pinpoint exactly what it is about them that bothers you, but it’s something. What is it?
Maybe, on the other hand, you know exactly the things about them that you hate. Maybe you can list their irritating traits on both hands.
In either scenario, the reason is probably this: they remind you of something within yourself, something you don’t like.
I know, how dare I, right? Trust me, I know it’s a hard pill to swallow.
But swallow it, you must (if you care to work on your self-understanding, anyway).
Julia Kristina, licensed therapist and life coach in Vancouver has explored the very same topic (see article here).
“It’s because Carl Jung (one of the grandfathers of modern psychology) found, through his lifetime of work and research, that the reason some people irritate us so much is because they embody something of ours called the Shadow Side.”
“Those unfavourable qualities, habits, or tendencies of someone else we react negatively to are really just our own shortcomings that we’ve turned our back on and refuse to own up to,” she goes on to explain.
Haven’t you ever wondered why we often feel this way about family? As much as you might hate to admit it, you’re bound to share a few qualities with the people who raised you, and those you grew up with.
That’s what’s so great about friends — you can actually choose those. It’s always good to mix in the vibes of oftentimes completely different people. And it kind of makes sense that we would seek out those who emulate the kind of person we aspire to be. It’s human nature’s way of trying to better ourselves. We’re all just trying to evolve.
Of course, family is something we should cherish, too. When you’ve worked through certain issues you have with yourself, it’s easier to accept and love those same qualities that may reside in your family members. It’s the part of us that wants to run away from the truth of who we are, and the fear of not becoming something better that keeps us slightly estranged.
The same could go for friends, too. Often we find ourselves wanting to distance from childhood friends. Something about them bothers you, they never changed. They’re still the same as they were in high school, right?
Did you ever think about the possibility that you’re simply putting distance between yourself and them out of the fear of realizing you never actually got any better, that you never really came that far?
Maybe you did. Or, maybe that “shadow side” still lies dormant within you. But maybe change and betterment are no less important than self-love and acceptance.
Either way, the point is that we tend to try and distinguish our present selves from our past selves as much as we can.
Instead of reacting in irritation or annoyance, we have to try and be loving and patient with those who mirror our own less-favorable qualities. For all we know, we might remind them of their own personal least-favorites!
It may be difficult — especially at first — but we owe it to ourselves to love the part of others that we dislike in our own traits. After all, wouldn’t you want the same in return?