One of the more influential aspects of my childhood was having three sisters. For the most part, they wanted a brother about as much as a cat wants fleas. For a long time, I couldn’t do anything right by my sisters. As we grew older, grievances grew increasingly pettier. I vaguely remember, around the age of ten, asking my mother if I could have a sex-change. I didn’t have a complete concept of what it meant, but I knew it would make my sisters like me!

Eventually, there was a big turning point. Although, at times, I admittedly was rather irritating, I realized that the more contributing factor was that they were also seriously irritable! Although, that realization didn’t directly change the situation, it did help me deal with it, which, in turn, helped resolve many things, internally and externally. As I matured more, I learned to remind myself of this also when I was feeling irritated or frustrated by something or someone.

-Is this annoying or am I just letting myself be annoyed?

There’s only one side of that I can truly act upon.

6 thoughts on “inside/outside”

  1. Hi, Joseph! In tibetan tradition there is practice Tonglen, maybe you know about it, it is a practice of compassion. The power of compassion is fascinating to me, because, to be honest, it is not easy to practice, but even if experienced in full only occasionally, it can prove to melt all the frastration and irritation.
    I like Milarepa’s words ” enemies are but frail flowers”
    I can relate to what you say, only I had one sister. Recently she died. Death is a powerful teacher, it can bring profound realizations to stupid people like me who otherwise do not understand.
    Developing deep compassion is the only sane solution in this world, and in difficult family situation. Irritation and annoyence are like tools that enable you to develope limitless compassion.

    1. Hello Tanya,
      I’m sorry about your loss.
      I haven’t anyone in my immediate family die, but the rest of my family getting very sparse!
      My father’s family is Sicilian, apparently known for their abilities to hold a grudge. Most of my grandparents’ siblings have been dying without having spoken to one another in over twenty years.

      It’s ashame there isn’t greater emphasis on teaching things like Tonglen to our children in North American culture. I grew up in a Catholic community. In the short time that I lived there, support for the Church diminished to the point that some churches had to move Sunday Mass to Saturday because there weren’t enough priests to go around. I wonder if they would have focussed more on teachings such as compassion and loving one another more than other aspects, if support would have continued?
      There’s definitely an emptiness that wasn’t being addressed, or people wouldn’t have been so complacent to leave.

      I hope your sister’s journey is progressing well!
      Gwan Seum Bosal

  2. Based on my experience, every human being irritates some other human being. We’re irritable creatures. We irritate and we can be irritated.

    The irritation isn’t the problem, I suspect. The irritation comes from our fantasy that we could live without irritating and being irritated.

    1. It helps to learn not to blame yourself for the world’s irritation! ^_^ In my earlier life, I mostly witnessed the fantasy of not being irritated!

    2. I don’t know Barry, my sister was pretty irritating! ^^
      (Of course, none of it was MY fault. 😉 )

      For me discovering meditation, and realizing that I didn’t need to respond to every little thing made a huge change. Even when someone else was in a bad mood, just not reacting to that really helped things get better quickly.

      A huge thing I’ve found about irritation/anger is how much it feeds off the quiet stories I’ve been telling myself about the other person’s motives, and what that means for me.

      1. Well, my wife is certainly more irritating than your sister! (Of course, that has nothing to do with my behaviors…)

        Yes, I think you’re completely right in saying that irritation feeds off our storytelling….

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