Why do some people irk, irritate, or get under our skin while others don’t?

And furthermore, why do we find certain people so totally annoying while someone else may think that same person is perfectly fine?

Well, I’m going to tell you, but you may not like it.

It’s because Carl Jung (one of the grandfathers of modern psychology) found, through his lifetime of work and research, that the reason some people irritate us so much is because they embody something of ours called the Shadow Side. 

The Shadow Side is the parts of ourselves we don’t like. The parts we have disowned and subconsciously denied as being in existence.  Those things about us we try our darndest to hide or run away from.

To put quite simply, those unfavourable qualities, habits, or tendencies of someone else we react negatively to are really just our own shortcomings that we have turned our back on and refuse to own up to.

So the things that bother, irritate, get under our skin, and drive us crazy about other people are more often than not, our own disowned, unacknowledged, or rejected issues.

Oh boy. Was that as tough for you as it was for me to swallow? 

It’s not an easy thing to hear. That’s for sure.

And in case you are tempted to say something like “Well, that may be true for other people, but not me!” Take a second to think about someone who really gets under your skin. Think about what it is about them that irritates you so much? Is it their bossiness? A self-righteous attitude? Are they a know-it-all? Do they act needy and insecure? Do they try to be too controlling? Do they seek out attention in desperate ways?

Does this drive you absolutely nuts about that person, but some of your friends don’t even seem to notice it, let alone be even mildly irritated by it? Why are we irritated or put off by some things other people do or say, and not others? And why isn’t everyone put off by the same things?

Is this something you might actually struggle with as well?

Something to think about…

No, this theory does not apply to all situations and to all the people who annoy us, but don’t use that as an excuse to not take a moment to take a look at yourself and what you may be tempted to deny also having as a shortcoming.

This is not easy to do. It doesn’t feel great to have to admit to ourselves that we too have irritating behaviours that may need to be worked out.

But don’t stress about it too too much. The good news is, you’re not alone. None of us are perfect, nor are we, or anyone else, meant to be.


If you found this valuable, please share it. And if you do, let me know so I can thank you. 

I’m Julia Kristina MA, RCC,  an I’m a CBT, Mindfulness, and Positive Psychology registered (aka licensed) therapist and life coach out of Vancouver BC.

If you’d like to work with me 1:1 I do in-person sessions from my office in downtown Vancouver, or virtually to any where in the world via SKYPE.