The Frustration Situation

Deep Breaths…

Frustration: it affects all of us at some stage. It’s a part of the human experience and it’s an emotion that doesn’t discriminate. We often find ourselves frustrated when things don’t turn out the way we expected or hoped they would or should. More often than not, our frustration is triggered by something (a situation, a conversation, a circumstance, a person, an event) which is beyond our immediate control.

Like that idiot who lives across the road.

Having said that, what is in our control, is our reaction. Like all emotions, frustration is a personal response to something that’s happening (or not happening, as the case may be) in our world. And while most people believe it’s the external stimulus that produces our internal response, in reality, our frustration is self-created. The challenge is not to overcome frustration (as such) but rather, to learn to manage it as opposed to being managed by it.

So, having worked with the frustrated multitudes for years, I thought I’d share a few suggestions that you might find helpful.

1. Don’t Try to Change People. Trying to change others (we’ve all done it) is an exercise in frustration and, at times, disconnection and aggravation. Giving people unwanted advice, direction or feedback (no matter how well-intended) will invariably end in tears. Either literally or metaphorically. Keep in mind that unwanted input or commentary is typically interpreted as criticism.

2. Stop Wasting Your Emotional Energy. Control what you can and let go of what you can’t. All too often, we invest our emotional energy into things (situations, circumstances, issues) over which we have little or no control. Not surprisingly, sending our blood pressure through the roof while screaming at a sporting event on television (for example) won’t change the outcome. Or the umpire’s stupid decisions. In fact, the only thing it might do is send us to an early grave. Oh, and possibly, annoy the crap out of everyone else within earshot.

3. Stop Juggling. Stop doing fifty things poorly and focus your time and energy on doing the important things well. That is, prioritise. I had to learn this lesson as I once had a propensity to bite off more than I could chew. Many of us simply take on more things than we can do well. Sometimes the answer is to put certain things on hold in order to be able to make progress in other areas. As a rule, over-commitment leads to exhaustion, anxiety and frustration. And eventually, physical illness. So, what’s the best use of your time, skill and energy right now? The answer to that question is your starting point.

4. Stop Aiming for Perfection. Aim for better. Aim for improvement. Aim for growth. Our society’s obsession with perfection has led to unrealistic expectations, unhealthy thinking, mass frustration and disappointment. Of course frustration will be the result when our goal is unattainable. When perfection is the goal, no result will ever be good enough.

5. Be Patient. Stop trying to reinvent yourself by next Tuesday. It took you a long time to get where you are now (practically, financially, emotionally, physically, psychologically, sociologically), so be realistic with your expectations as you work towards creating the new and improved version of you. I’m always amazed by people who have punished their body for decades (with atrocious eating, zero exercise and poor lifestyle habits) who then find a way to be disappointed and frustrated when they don’t look like a supermodel or elite athlete two weeks into their ‘weight-loss kick’. Good grief.

6. Stop Relying on Others to Get You There (wherever there is). It’s great to have support, encouragement and help along the way, but it’s not great to be totally dependant on others to make our dreams a reality. While it’s healthy to be part of a team of people who are all on the same page and all moving in the same direction, it’s still important for us to be functional, productive and effective on our own. Independent and strong. Being totally reliant on someone else (to reach our goals) is an exercise in both frustration and disempowerment.

7. Compare Yourself to Others – with Caution. Comparing ourselves to others rarely results in something positive. It can, but typically, it won’t. Invariably, it will focus our attention on what we don’t have or what we haven’t done and lead to self-pity and/or frustration. Having said that, it can work in our favour when we make it. Comparisons can be a positive when we use the achievements of others with similar attributes, potential and opportunities (to us) as a source of motivation, inspiration, learning and perspective for our own journey.

Now… deep breaths. :)

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Diana December 10, 2012 at 12:02 pm

Craig,
Thank you for reminding me to chill and enjoy.

I continually place pressure on myself to ” get back to work” while raising my 3 babies. But I breathe a sigh of relief that I am one of the lucky ones who can stay home by choice ,watch my children’s milestones and know that it’s ok.
Sacrifices are made… ( holidays,nice car,$250 hair cuts) but that’s ok too!
I’m at
My healthiest, fittest and most of all at peace, with most of my daily monthly yearly decisions/goals.
Your the best, chuck out the rest ….
I’m so a child from the 80′s

D

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Anonymous December 10, 2012 at 6:44 pm

Very, very helpful. Thank you.

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chebbieanne December 10, 2012 at 10:31 pm

Very deep breath and long slow sigh!
Sometimes being committed, strong, independent, focused, resilient and paced whilst prioritising the seriously important stuff is just undermined and frustrated by there being only 24 hours in each day.
You can accept other people and yourself for their limitations,prefer and maintain logic over emotion, be multi focused, reasonable, patient and self reliant, find time for what you have to do and what you want to do but still how do you not become just a bit frustrated that there are only 24 hours each day? Deep breaths becoming hyperventilating.

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Michael December 11, 2012 at 1:59 am

Your body will just say sorry time to rest and short of the world ending while you sleep (that’s in a couple of weeks lol) you just have to wait until eight hours later.

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chebbieanne December 11, 2012 at 11:39 am

Hahaha hanging out for 21/12/12. In the meantime trying to fit in 5-6 hrs sleep on a good night thereby saving a couple of hours for the other stuff. Time management??

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Suu December 11, 2012 at 12:07 am

Hi everyone
If it weren’t for practicing the art of not stressing over situations beyond my control I can faithfully say that I’d be a goner. Literally.
I have no control over what other people think, say, or do so I’ve chosen to control my automatic thoughts to these situations.
This gives me a positive attitude to life’s stressors.
I choose to think of the positives.
Yep, hubby got hit by a truck. If it weren’t for the fantastic doctors that were on duty that day he’d have lost his leg.
Yep, I got a brain tumour. If it weren’t for the 3 doctors doing appropriate tests I could have been sent home to die.
Try letting go of anger/frustration and try smiling through adversity. You might like it :)

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Sulagna December 11, 2012 at 1:57 am

Don’t try to change people, be patient & stop juggling – my top 3. Frustration & ways to conquer it is a neglected topic in the self-help sphere. Thanks for the post Craig. :)

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Nikki December 11, 2012 at 2:11 am

Thank you for no. 5! Patience is a virtue of which I have none :-) I have to keep reminding myself that small changes over a period of time will add up to a big collective improvement!

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Lisa Nicole December 11, 2012 at 6:02 am

Craig, you’re so right. We can’t change what happens to us, but we can choose how we react to it. And we can make things happen! It’s all about our choices. Thanks for the reminder!

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Damo December 11, 2012 at 10:23 pm

Lisa Nicole, that’s one of my favorite sayings. “Craig you’re so right”. Actually I’m even more fond of the next statement, that we can’t change or control what happens to us, only how we react to it.
And hey Dragon, I tried learning to juggle last year and failed miserably – looks so easy when done well that I can’t understand why I can’t do it. Sounds like you’re doing great.

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Dragon December 11, 2012 at 8:24 am

Stop Juggling.

A beautiful metaphor for my life. Constantly trying to find the balance between being productive (working 50-60 hours, family – father and husband, fitness – gym, basketball, sport – coaching), trying to reach my potential (or at least not wasting what I have), and not letting others down (which I do because I take on far too much), and then making time for friends and experiences etc.

I made a logo for myself many years ago in a creative moment that was 2 hands juggling 3 balls. The hands were black and white (yin and yang / everything and nothing), and the colours of the balls I chose were blue (mind), red (body) and yellow (spirit).It was to remind that the balance in all things will bring contentment and harmony. Too much focus on one means not enough on another…you get the idea.

So for me juggling is the only way I know. I just need to keep check of how many balls I’m juggling at any given time and make sure the nasty ones like fear, doubt, resentment, FRUSTRATION, anxiety are kept at bay.

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Evan December 11, 2012 at 10:16 am

Hi Craig, as you point out frustration is to do with us – our hopes, desires and so forth.

Which comes down to frustration being two desires or hopes or whatever.

Here’s my radical thought: both these desires or hopes or whatever are valid and important.

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Annonyfem December 12, 2012 at 3:26 pm

Say wot!?! Usually I read your comments Evan, and understand what you’re saying. This one, I have no idea…..bloody frustrating……please explain ??

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Evan December 12, 2012 at 9:17 pm

Hi Annonyfem,

What I’m suggesting is that we listen to our desires. Even the ones (perhaps especially the ones) that we know are unrealistic.

We judge ourselves – and then judge that it is wrong to do this. Which gets us into a tricky circle. So I’m suggesting that the judge in us has our best interests at heart (even if it expresses this concern in ways that are awful and painful to ourselves and others).

So specifically, it means listening to:
How I want to change people
Why I waste my emotional energy and why I want to do this and why it feels good to me to do this
What it is I get out of doing fifty things (especially if what I get out of it is feeling bad).

I hope this makes clearer what I was trying to say. I realise that it is coming at things from quite a different angle to the usual.

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Anonymous December 12, 2012 at 9:19 pm

Hi Annonyfem
I think I get it – Evan’s saying that frustration is 2 desires or hopes or whatever – so, for example, if you’re frustrated because you’re fat (me!). Part of you wants to be thin … but part of you wants to eat delicious food. So 2 desires that conflict, but which are both valid and important.
Hope this makes sense.

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Enrico December 13, 2012 at 1:55 pm

Hi Craig,

This was very informative for me and is really apart of where I fall down in life constantly by not taking ownership of who I am, holding onto way too much crap and judging myself everyday. I am on a journey to improve in this area, and what you have pointed out and a new year approaching gives me a perfect opportunity to to change and create a better me…..Thank You

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