Taming those around us, even if they get on our nerves

Our environment is sometimes a great source of stress, but it also nourishes our well-being, our skills and our identity.

Taming those around us, even if they get on our nerves

Our environment is sometimes a great source of stress, but it also nourishes our well-being, our skills and our identity. This is why we must take care of our relationships, surround ourselves well, iron out our differences and develop our social talents.

Hell is other people, said Jean-Paul Sartre. In any case, they often get on our nerves. By their irritating habits or their exhausting frailties. Their preferences, expectations and needs can also be stressful. They make too much noise or take up too much space. They don't understand us enough or they contradict us too much. They are sometimes mean, lazy or silly.

Often, others pass on the stress of their lives to us. They lack time or patience, which makes them less caring or more demanding. Some can become the center of our life (children, lovers, sick) and exhaust us.

Others harm our well-being through the social pressure, influences or standards they impose on us, or through the judgments, criticisms and conflicts resulting from our divergent interests or points of view. When they harass or traumatize us, others can jeopardize our long-term health. One might wonder if social distancing might not be a solution.

Essential to our survival

Despite the stress and suffering caused by many social interactions, others are essential because they fulfill our needs for security, esteem and fulfillment. They protect us from dangers and sometimes from ourselves. They are both responsible for and witnesses to our experiences and our progress.

The others are our scouts and guides. They inform us, show us other ways of living and offer us different perspectives on what surrounds us. We learn to manage our lives by talking with others about their experiences and their particular realities increase our ability to adapt to many situations.

The expertise and experience of others can save us a lot of time and avoid many mistakes. Others alert us to the dangers and opportunities around us. They guide us to improve our first drafts. Some serve as models and others serve as counterexamples to avoid. Through their external point of view and their detachment, others also help us to put our concerns and our dramas into perspective.

In addition, the attention and affection of others are part of our basic needs. From the moment we are born, we develop an attachment to our loved ones that is similar to a drug addiction. We cannot do without it completely. Hugs and reassuring social interactions increase the production of oxytocin and endorphins in our brain. These hormones protect us against stress and distress, but they also bond us to others. When a loved one leaves us, we feel a lack and sometimes even separation anxiety or symptoms of depression.

Reduce stress

The negative effects of others can be modulated by different means such as avoiding stressful subjects or reducing our reactions of irritation by changing our expectations (ex: imagining that we have to adapt to a weird planet). Developing our social skills such as humor, compliments or unifying topics can also make a difference.

If difficult interactions are unavoidable, they must be compensated by others that are more stimulating, warmer, or more joyful.

Finally, we can amplify the positive effects of our interactions by investing more in them, by regularly emphasizing the importance of the other and by refocusing our interactions on benevolence and generous exchange.

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