“If everyone seems to be getting on your nerves these days… you might have a nerve problem.” Said in jest, of course.

I once heard someone give this piece of advice: Do a slow count from 1 to 10 when you feel frustrated.

Your boiling anger should be reduced to a simmer at 6 and when you get to 10, remember to turn of the fire and take the pot aside so it does not keep stewing.

Let’s put aside our frustration for a moment here.

 ‘Angst’ is the German and Dutch word for fear, and in Danish it translates to ‘anxiety’.

Our angst often doesn’t have a specific target, right? It could be a build-up of negative feelings that render us angsty.

Angst, when coupled with worry makes a good recipe for frustration. Maybe it’s deep-seated frustration about everything that is going wrong in our lives, or an overwhelming feeling of a loss of control.

Perhaps we’ve put our inner lives on auto-pilot for a while and the bearings are off. And we’re moving further away from where we wanted to be.

 Or we’ve simply neglected our emotions and pilled it all up in a corner where no one – not even ourselves – can access.

But if the pot is beginning to boil over, then something needs our attention.

If we’d give ourselves time and try to trace the events of our lives – we can look for things in our lives that we may have neglected and is now producing unpleasant consequences.  

Here are four areas to look at:

  1. Is comparison stealing your joy?

Stop comparing! Even if comparing ourselves with others seem to be hardwired into us – the bane of our culture – we can disconnect from the need to auto-compare. Sign out!

Comparing ourselves with others might be a tough habit to break, but it will only depress us if we continue.

Delete your account on compare.com because when we pit ourselves against others, we will either feel superior or inferior – and neither of these feelings are beneficial.

  1. What are you saying?

Think about the words you say to yourself, about others, and to others.

The words we speak explain to us what’s going on in our hearts. When our words become harsh and critical, we create an environment where good things cannot grow.

Even when everything around you seems bleak, begin to sow seeds of good fruit by saying something positive – whether about yourself or about others.

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” (Intentional leaving out of the bible reference)

3. Are you getting enough sleep?

Sleep is not time wasted! There is a flurry of neurological activity –  e.g. memory consolidation, neurochemical cleansing and cognitive maintenance –  that happens when we take time to sleep.

We are more likely to overreact and become easily irritated when we’re sleep-deprived. 

“When fatigue walks in, faith walks out.” When all else seems to be going south, perhaps it is time to take a nap. 😴

Bonus: Are there people you need to forgive?

To have unforgiveness towards others may be one of the most unforgiving things we do to ourselves. For as long as we do not forgive another person, we carry them around with us and that weight is simply too much to bear.

We might be able to go on for a few months, or even a few years – but you will feel the consequences. Today, if you’re still holding on to past hurts, would you release yourself from it and find rest in the power of forgiveness?

Don’t be afraid of being the first or only one to forgive or encourage another person, and don’t grow tired of sowing seeds of goodness and kindness. For in due season, we will reap the rewards of doing good, if we do not give up.

When we take care of the small things, the big things won’t seem as big.