No. 243



One day a few weeks ago I was running late for a meeting downtown and turned down a street I normally take, only to find it blocked off due to construction. I then retraced my path and took another route that crossed the railroad track South of town, only to find that it was also blocked by crews who were replacing cross ties. Needless to say, I was a little irritated. Didnt they know I was running late and had a meeting to get to?

At this point my only alternative was to turn around and take one of two alternate routes which were much further in distance, which meant I was going to be late for my meeting. I know, I was my fault. I should have left earlier but what I said a moment ago was tongue-in-cheek and I now had a choice to make. I could continue to be irritated and let it ruin at least part of my day or I could realize the situation couldnt be helped, readjust my attitude, and take this minor inconvenience in stride. I chose the latter.

This true life experience is just one small example of the type of things that can cause us to be or become irritated. When I was thinking about writing this column I asked my wife what irritated her the most? She said, Huh?, which is a private joke at our house. She says Im hard of hearing, and whether this is true or not I have formed the habit of saying Huh, even if I hear what she says. She does have a very soft, but sweet voice and I try to explain to her that its hard for me to hear her and the television at the same time, especially if she is in another room.

Now, this question please. Do you ever get irritated? For the vast majority of people this would be like asking, Is the Pope Catholic? because we all get irritated to some degree. The real question then becomes, how do we handle the things or people that irritate us? The answer lies in our attitude, that internal thermometer that determines whether we are cool, irritated, angry or furious to the boiling point. The key here is degree because that determines how we react in different situations that requires a conscious or subconscious choice.

As a quick sidebar before I move on, Id like to note that not all irritations are bad. Did you know that a pearl is formed when a grain of sand gets inside an oyster and begins to irritate its soft lining? When it comes to us humans, there are many irritations that can turn into a positive experience. For example, when our wife says to take out the trash enough times that we become irritated, to keep from hearing it one more time, we just get up and take it out. The same is true for mowing the lawn, fixing the sink that drips, changing light bulbs and so forth.

On the other hand many irritations can become very destructive, like rude and thoughtless drivers on the roads and highways. We all know about Road rage and its consequences. What started out as an irritation became anger and then escalated to an uncontrolled rage. As the American Orator Robert G. Ingersoll once said, Anger is a wind that blows out the lamp of the mind.

To be sure, anger is a very destructive and costly emotion. We see the evidence and consequence of it each day in the lives of many people. I want to leave you with this thought: the answer for us as well as other people who have become irritated is complete and total forgiveness. If we deal with our irritations first, anger will never become a problem. EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)