When Other People Irritate the Crap Out Of You

“Do you think, in general, that people are doing the best they can?”

Brené Brown asks this question in “Rising Strong,” and wonders about what your answer reveals about you. Do you think that other people are usually trying hard to be kind, fair, generous? Or do you believe that on the whole, people are out to take advantage, make a buck, get ahead at any cost?

In her research, Brown found that 80 percent of people who answered “no” to this question did so because of their own self-judgment and perfectionist patterns. When you believe that you yourself are never working hard enough, you are also more likely to believe that others aren’t working hard enough or “doing their best.” If you hold yourself to impossible perfectionist standards and never feel good enough, it is easy to see the whole world through that lens.

When we talk about perfectionism, we often talk about how it impacts your relationship with yourself — how you beat yourself up, feel anxious or avoidant, demand the impossible. We sometimes forget the impact that perfectionism has on your relationship with others. When you feel cruel and stingy with yourself, only directing negative energy inward, that can leave you with only negative energy to direct towards others.

If you notice yourself feeling angry or impatient towards others, assuming they are not “doing their best,” take a moment and check in with yourself. Is the voice inside your head speaking those words the same voice that hammers you all the time for any small mistake or failure? Is your anger towards others connected to your anger towards yourself? Consider addressing your perfectionism — with compassion and kindness — as a way to shift your frustrated feelings towards other people.