There’s a single, simple reason that other people frustrate us. It’s really the same reason we frustrate ourselves, but it doesn’t feel the same when directed at others. No, our frustration toward others is about altruism, morals, respect, decency or any number of dressings that makes the frustration feel good in ways that self-loathing rarely does.
Other people aren’t always what we want them to be. There. That’s it. Now, the frustration may very well be justified in that it’s possible you know a better way to make another person happier or thinner or smarter or whatever, but never be too sure of knowing what’s best for someone else.
The Phantom Thread‘s Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis) is filled with peculiarities that led to many chuckles. The best laugh came when Reynolds incredulously asks if he had been dropped “behind enemy lines.” Mind you, he said this after his wife prepared him a beautiful meal.
Almost all the laughs at Reynolds’ oddities could have been followed by Dude, who cares? Stop being bothered by such trivial stuff.
The issue with this thinking is that it ignores how well these behavioral tics have served him. He is, after all, absolutely elite at his job. And yea, he could be lonely, but he gives no indication that he is (or if he is, that it bothers him). It’s a situation where others are simply projecting how they would feel if they were him. But they aren’t him.
Random Person: “You are really weird. It must be hard for others to be around you.”
Reynolds: “Weird? I don’t know what that means. I am me.”
Random Person: “OK. But aren’t you lonely?”
Reynolds: “No. I like being a bachelor.”
Random Person: “You can’t really mean that. Everyone needs company.”
Reynolds: “I do mean that. I find company when I need it and nothing more.”
Random Person: “That certainly wouldn’t be good enough for me.”
Reynolds: “Good thing you aren’t me.”