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“You Get On My Nerves”

Nerves” anatomically refer to the cordlike bundles of fibers that are made up of neurons through which sensory stimuli and motor impulses pass between the brain or other parts of the central nervous system. They form a network of pathways for conducting information throughout the body. Idiomatically – when we are annoyed by something another person says or does – we might use an expression such as “he gets on my nerves with his constant interruptions”. Or, we may refer to a nerve as a sore point or sensitive subject, i.e. “her reminder of my mistake touches a nerve”.

What strikes me about the definition above, and particularly the part about pathways that conduct information throughout the body, is how becoming and being provoked is experienced within our beings in so many ways. We have physical reactions – our stomachs may turn, our blood pressure may go up, our faces might get red, our jaws may clench and so on. We also have emotional and cognitive reactions to how we are experiencing behaviours that irritate us.

If you are saying “you get on my nerves” to someone or are just thinking that, the questions for this week’s blog might be a helpful way to reflect on what your nerves are telling you.

  • What is the other person doing that is getting on your nerves?
  • How might you describe what getting on your nerves means for you in this instance?
  • How else are you experiencing this impact that you have not mentioned yet (physically, emotionally, cognitively)?
  • What is the underlying message you perceive from the other person’s actions, words, etc. that explains why they are getting on your nerves?
  • What may be motivating the other person to say or do what is provoking you?
  • What might the person need from you that she or he is not receiving? What do you need from her or him?
  • What might you say to the other person to help get her or him off your nerves?
  • What could you do to your nerves to better manage your reaction?
  • If you are able to diffuse the situation between you and the other person, what would happen to the nerves that had been effected?
  • Where are your nerves at now, having thought about this situation?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?

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