- Drink too much coffee. Does anyone remember the old 70s Sanka commercials featuring an ill-tempered individual getting highly irritated by some trivial matter and claiming the caffeine makes him tense? Then Robert Young from Father Knows Best busts onto the scene with a pot of Sanka and saves the day with “real” coffee, but that’s not really my point. I love those commercials with the depictions of pissed off moms, dads and spouses, edgy and stressed out over life’s little annoyances. But seriously, I’m not sure I actually believe caffeine makes me any more irritable than I would be simply by nature. I mean, you would not believe how irritable I could be without caffeine.
- Never allow enough time to get anywhere. You know the scenario, you are rushing around the house trying to get out the door so that you can drive to some place for some reason and you will most likely be meeting with some people who expect you at the location at a certain time. You know exactly what time it is, you have calculated in your head roughly how long it will take to get there and you are mentally checking off what tasks are left to be done before you leave. You have got the situation under control. Do not take into account how much time it takes to go out to the garage. Do not consider the time it takes to put on shoes and a coat, particularly in the winter time, when mittens, a hat and a scarf are also highly recommended. If you are a dog owner, do not take into account the chance that your best friend will suddenly decide he/she needs to either A) pee or B) chase after a small rodent. If you have a child in tow, definitely do not allow time for the child to get shoes, socks, a coat, a snack, a drink of water or a trip to the bathroom. This will foul up your mental calculations beyond belief.
- Procrastinate. I’ll explain that later.
- Set your standards very high. Don’t get lazy and just accept your slothful ways as “good enough.” Demand perfection from yourself. Are you a stay-at-home parent? Expect your home to be spotless, sanitized and highly organized. If it is not, feel irritated. Are you a professional of some sort? Expect that you should be making more money, have more responsibilities, or hold a higher position in whatever profession it is that you work. Better yet, expect that you should have been in a better profession. Are you a teacher? You should have been a doctor. Are you a doctor? You should have been a surgeon. Are you a writer? You should have published something by now. You are how old? And what do you have to show for it?
- Develop your “all or nothing” thinking. This kind of goes along with the last one. That’s so lame, I should have come up with something more clever, used a little more imagination. This whole blog is a failure.
- Be highly self-critical. If I had a nickel for every time someone told me “don’t be so hard on yourself!” Well… Let’s just say I would have a lot of nickels. All I know is, every time I feel like I haven’t done something quite as well as I would have liked it, I feel irritated. So it must work.
- Be rigid and controlling and expect that people will never disappoint you. When they do, perceive it as a pronouncement on your self-worth.
- Have children. Need I say more?
Yeah, that last one was a bonus. I’m so pleased with myself for coming up with an extra, I actually feel happy.