We tend to get angry over the little things — the way someone says something, the item they forgot, the clothes they left on the floor, the dirty dishes in the sink, the item they forgot to get in the grocery store, to name a few… The question is, why do the little things get to us? Why are they such a big deal? I think it is because the root of the real reason we are annoyed goes much deeper. Using our insight, intuition and reasoning, we can get to the heart of the matter — if we want to.

Let’s analyze that list above. What all of those annoyances have in common is that someone did not hear us or listen to us which means that they do not care. That translates into, “I’m not important enough, I am not worthy in their eyes, I am not special.” So what we do instead of facing these feelings is to get snappy in our tone or we get quiet and detach. Some of us get angry and scream.

The solution? Simple but not easy. First we have to get to the bottom of our feelings and admit how we really feel without making excuses. Then we have to find a way to share those feelings with the other person or persons. Words to begin with are, “When you do this, I feel…” There is no blame here. This is how you feel. Now if the other person gets defensive and angry, we can let them know that these are our feelings. If none of that works, I suggest professional help to work this through.

These small things build and one day they become so big, that we feel ready to explode and sometimes do. The goal here is to catch this before it escalates. We can do this. We may need help, but if we value our relationships and want to make them work, we need to address the deeper issues causing the annoyances.

Wanting to work things out, finding the right support, developing and following an action plan and faith are key ingredients to working through the “small” issues that have large emotions attached to them. It’s never too late when we believe there is hope, and when we make up our minds to give it our best shot.


Patricia Raskin, a pioneer in positive media for the past 25 years, is an award-winning producer, talk show host, media coach, speaker, author and weekly columnist. Her "Positive Living" radio program is in its tenth year on WTKF-107.3 and fourth year worldwide on VoiceAmerica.com. Learn the skills for "positive living" through her archived radio broadcasts
and book, Pathfinding: Seven Principles for Positive Living. Attend her Life Enrichment Seminars at Pura Vida USA in Georgia and Pura Vida Spa in Costa Rica.


  1. If anybody had something on their minds I would want them to tell it to me. Much better than letting it build up.

    Some people can have so much pain in them that they are highly reactive and can be hard to handle / communicate with. But the good news is that we can develop ourselves so that we become stronger. Strong enough to talk to those kinds of people without letting their lack of control get to us. It takes time and is all about improving our self esteem. Reminding ourselves of our value. It is said criticism only hurts us because we have a weak point inside. And we can see it as an opportunity to get to this weak point, correct its false beliefs and remind ourselves of those corrections until it is fixed. This will improve our self esteem so we become more emotionally solid. We can then face and communicate fully with anybody. We will have turned something bad into something good.

  2. There’s another cultural artifact that compounds this problem, too. Western culture, possibly because of religious influences, assigns intrinsic value to suffering. To be put-upon wins you Good Person points, whether or not your treasured store of slights real and imagined had anything to do with your own actions at all. If you listen to bitter people compete for who’s the most mistreated, you’ll hear that it really is a contest of sorts. One would think that one is somehow owed something simply for being miserable – even if that imaginary debt never gets paid.

  3. Wow, good point Columbine.

    I bet we all know someone like this.

    Andrew: So true, and I’m not there yet, all the way. I still have some residual hurt even tho small from some fall-outs, but my esteem is going up and with it my ability to talk to someone with whom there is friction…

  4. Yes, and the problem is the biggest for them, if anything. Compounding their problems makes them only be felt more. And they will see more problems in everything. If anything we should feel compassion for them.

    When you run into someone who is disagreeable to others, you may be sure he is uncomfortable with himself; the amount of pain we inflict upon others is directly proportional to the amount we feel within us. – Sidney J. Harris

    The greatest healing therapy is friendship and love. – Hubert H. Humphrey

  5. It is kind of bad how society in general kind of conditions us to not tell people our positive feelings towards them, especially for men. When was the last time a friend said to you “your a really good friend and I’m glad to have you as a part of my life” I think if people let out their positive emotions as equally as their negative emotions or pent up anger it may just help to cancel the bad stuff out and make it easier for everyone to communicate effectively with each other.

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