In order to understand what this exercise fundamentally aims to address, it can help to understand the dynamics of how we become annoyed within the first place.
Because once you understand how it happens, the whole premise becomes crystal-clear and you may even find it impossible to become annoyed again.
…or at the very least be able to recognise how silly it is when you find yourself getting caught up in the motions out of habit.
Habits and behaviours we’ve likely maintained since childhood, which will take time and conscious effort to truly dissolve.
Ultimately, the premise is quite simple.
You create a personal agreement which states that you will feel annoyed.
And that’s literally it.
What happens is that we create the agreement, then a particular circumstance fulfils that agreement, and then we create the corresponding emotion.
Otherwise known as “taking something personally”.
Which when you phrase it like that, sounds as if it’s your external circumstances which are responsible for how you feel, when really it’s the agreement you’ve personally created which is behind this whole mess.
The reason why it’s silly is because you can literally create an agreement about anything.
You can say you’re going to get really angry if it happen to see a cloud, or that you’re going to feel really sad if you don’t receive flowers from a random stranger.
It’s a bit like when you see someone get really upset over something which you personally could care less about, like when someone absolutely loses their cool over a personal dispute you have absolutely nothing to do with.
The reason why you don’t have that emotional reaction is because you don’t have the same agreements as they do.
Furthermore, it also exposes how willingly we'll allow ourselves to self-harm via our own beliefs.
Which is absolutely insane when you think about it.
It’s like we intentionally set ourselves up to feel awful about ourselves, and it’s something most of us remain completely oblivious to.
The reason why people struggle not to take things personally is because they fail to identify when they create the agreement, as well as when they trigger it.
Instead, what they do is identify and embrace the feeling.
And when all you can see the is that feeling, the very result of taking something personally, then inherently it will merely reinforce the validity of your experience as something that is out of our control.
Well, these feelings do not reflect what is actually going on. You do have control in these situations, because you created the agreement which means you also have the ability to dissolve them as well.
Ultimately the idea of something like awareness is that we’re learning the ability to be able to catch ourselves when we create these agreements, so we can dissolve them and move forward.
Our end goal is to be able to identify and dissolve these personal agreements at will, and to live our life free of agreement.
Self-created beliefs which take power away from our ability to remain neutral and in balance with ourselves.
With this context in mind, your task is to try and annoy yourself, in order to understand on a conscious level what actually happens when you get annoyed.
It can help to think back to previous moments.
What makes you feel annoyed? What agreements have you personally created in your own life? What circumstances fulfil those agreements?
While there’s nothing to practice per-se, this exercise is more about getting you to consciously think about these things throughout the day.
Certainly, what we are doing with this exercise is learning to think differently about how we react to our emotions, as an aspect of our personality which we are responsible for.
And once you have this understanding, it can provide you with the ability to avoid self-created suffering.
The funny thing about modern humans is that we’ve learnt to put our feelings first before our beliefs.
Which is to say that we automatically assume that our feelings are correct first, and that everything else is a consequence of that.
For example, I’m currently writing this article on the train and there’s this lady who’s playing music on her phone without headphones, and initially it annoyed me.
But if you make the agreement that this music is actually something enjoyable to be appreciated, then you no longer need to fight those feelings, because the feelings themselves disappear.
Of course, part of the reason why we don’t inherently do this is because we buy into the agreement, instead of identifying it as a self-created construct.
Which is cool, because that’s exactly what we’re trying to develop with this exercise, and simply means that we haven’t yet developed the self-awareness to identify these agreements yet.
Only through self-awareness can we hope to identify that which we want to change.
So go out there. Try and observe the dynamics of being annoyed, and see where it takes you.