We view the world with glasses of our past experiences. Transference is defined as the process whereby emotions are passed on or displaced from one person’s past experiences to another’s in the present. It’s an inappropriate repetition of an experience that was important in a person's history, most often from the early formative years.
Yes, many things (but not all) that irritate us about others can lead to an understanding of ourselves and our past relationships. When something irritates you about others, ask yourself what related memories come to mind. Does this person or experience remind you of a past experience or a past relationship with someone (sibling, nanny, parent, teacher...)? Do you find yourself overreacting? Do you find yourself, hours later, realizing it wasn’t such a big deal?
Here is an example: Someone who might have been in a car accident may later experience anxiety when driving, crossing the street or being a passenger. Past experiences tint the present causing overreactions and difficulties. Past experiences are stored both consciously and unconsciously. These thoughts lead to behaviors that sometimes create roadblocks and limitations in relationships. We may overreact to others experiencing them through the transferential glasses of our past. Most of the time what we fear has “already” happened to us.
Awareness helps us measure our present responses.