How to Stop Letting Jerks Ruin Your Day

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Sometimes there are things in life that trigger our anxiety, and sometimes there are people in life that trigger our anxiety. This week, I am going to focus on the latter.

Some people have a way about them that sets us off. We often blame these people, calling them jerks or making up excuses as to why they have wronged us or want to make our life miserable.

I hate to break it to you, but it is not the jerk that is making your life miserable. It is you.

Remember, situations don’t trigger anxiety.

The meaning that we tie to the situations that trigger anxiety.

The same is true for people.

I am not gonna lie, this is a hard concept for me to swallow too. I want to blame the person for causing me so much anxiety. After all, their mere presence has ignited a reaction that I am usually successful at keeping dormant.

But when I think about it, that same person whom I blame for my anxiety does not trigger the same anxiety in someone else.

So by mere deduction, the problem is me.

So it got me thinking, what is it about this particular person that triggers such angst in me?

I started to do some detective work.

I Went Back in Time

Anxiety has to begin somewhere. While some people may be wired to be prone to it, anxiety can lay dormant until it gets set off.

Kind of like flame on a matchstick. Eventually, it will burn out if not used to light something else. You get to decide if it is a candle or your entire house.

But the match itself did not start the fire.

The question becomes, what is that you are lighting?

Historical Perspectives

The story I have told myself for my entire life was that I am not good enough. We can break all of this down into manageable parts, but for the purpose of not writing an 800-page article, let’s just say that somewhere along the line I did not think that I was valid.

Or seen

Or heard.

As I became an adult, I realized that this is a stupid message to be giving myself.

So I set out to challenge this self-defeating belief and started doing what I could to make myself feel relevant.

For the most part, I am successful. But every now and again there is a certain personality type that sets me back 30 years and makes me question my abilities.,

This person (the jerk) is a master at manipulation and a novice at taking accountability. They make me feel crazy for suggesting an idea and are incessantly disagreeing with me for no other purpose but to disagree with me.

When they are proven wrong, they change their story so that you look crazy. This is what is referred to as gaslighting.

For some people, this type of personality while difficult does not affect them in the same way it affects me.

It affects me because I am triggered by a sense of not being good enough.

I am triggered by my historical negative self-talk and feeling invalid.

I am triggered by thinking that I really am not good enough and this person. This one person is the only one who has found me out.

But it is not her. It is me.

What this person does lights the match, but I fan the flames.

I fan the flames because I allow her actions to take me to a place that is full of negativity. A place in my head that I am trying desperately to escape.

It is my choice to go to this place.


Just as it was so easy for me to get triggered by this jerk’s behavior, I could have just as easily chosen to recognized that this person is flawed. Maybe a little damaged.

I could have told myself that this jerk needs to feel valid because they have a low sense of self. Because they do not have any self-awareness, the only way that they can feel valid is to try to make others feel invalid.

I could have chosen to feel sorry for this person.

I didn’t have to react in a way that was self-defeating.

But I did.

And that was my choice.

How to Stop Letting Jerks Ruin Your Day

The moral and the most empowering news is that we get to decide whether anyone or anything gets to have the power to ruin our day.

I know that this is easier said than done. But the good news is that it can be done.

So the next time you find yourself about to be triggered by someone, take a step back.

Remember, it’s not about them. It’s about the meaning that you attach to them.


Monica Pitek-Fugedi, LPC, NCC , CCATP




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