“Frustration, although quite painful at times, is a very positive and essential part of success.” – Bo Bennett
Frustration happens to everyone at one time or another. It can make you angry, feel anxious, and be very overwhelming.
When you’re frustrated, it can feel like nothing is under your control and everything is chaos. It’s hard to know where to begin. When you’re flooded with emotion, it’s difficult to think straight.
Remember, like all feelings or emotions, frustration isn’t bad. It’s a strong emotion that can serve as a red flag that something needs attention and tending to. Believe it or not, frustration can teach you a lot about your problem and when it’s dealt with, it can help you gain the skills for managing other intense feelings.
This feeling can encompass and contain other strong emotions as well. Some of these feelings are anger, anxiety, confusion, discouragement, and feeling defeated.
While it’s not healthy to suppress emotions, you also shouldn’t let them control you to behave a certain way. The mindful approach is to take a step outside yourself. To pay careful attention to what you are feeling. Instead of just being frustrated and behaving that way, you understand that you are feeling frustration. It’s a slight nuance, but it makes a world of difference. You are not wholly frustrated. But you are feeling frustration.
Here are a few steps through which you can handle your emotions and try to calm yourself to overcome frustration:
Try to be in the present
When you are frustrated then you are often somewhere in the future in your mind. Somewhere you wish you would be. Or you are reliving a stumble or failure from your past.
Snap out of those headspaces and calm down by focusing your mind and attention on what is now, right here at this moment.
Try to focus and appreciate what you have
After you have pulled your attention back to where it can be most helpful, focus it on what is still positive in your life. The quickest and easiest way to do so is to focus it on appreciating what you do have. Appreciate the presence of your friends and family, the comfort of a roof over your head, your perfect health and so on.
Focus on what you can do right now.
With your attention in the present moment and your mood a more grateful and positive one, it is now time to get constructive about what frustrates you. Ask yourself, what is one small step I can take right now to improve this situation?
It may be to see what you can learn from what frustrates you and to try another path towards your goal.
Or it could be to try one more time and to keep going (because not all things in life will come to you the first, second or third time you try).
Or it could be you simply realizing that you may have taken on a bit much lately or things have been tough and that you need to take this evening or a few days to just relax, take care of yourself and perhaps simplify a bit.
Work on something else.
Distraction is a great method to get past a roadblock. It works in problem-solving, getting past anger and other emotions – including frustration. If you’re stuck in a sour mood due to something frustrating, go out and dig in the garden, pound some nails in the wood, demolish cardboard boxes to put in the recycle bin. Involve yourself in a task requiring close concentration. These techniques get your mind off what’s frustrating you.
Remember: you’re human (and so is everyone else).
Perfectionism towards yourself or others does most often lead to plenty of frustration and disappointment. So set your standards both for others and yourself at a human level rather than at perfection.
Accept that sometimes you will make mistakes, have setbacks and not reach your goals when you’d like to. And so will people around you too.
Work from that perspective both with yourself and others and when there is a setback then focus on what you can learn to improve and to do better the next time.
Communicate with people. Talk it out, don’t let it get bottled up.
Share your thoughts with someone you trust and you know can help you overcome the situation. When you talk frustration over with someone then it can help you to start seeing it from a more level-headed perspective as you vent.
People can’t read your thoughts and you can’t read theirs.
So avoid trying to hint, guess or be passive-aggressive and go for simple, straightforward and calm communication as best you can.
It can be difficult to do right at that moment but it will most often save you a lot of unnecessary frustration, tension and misunderstandings in your relationships.
Frustration happens to everyone. The key to managing it is to understand your feelings and emotions before they get out of control and you lose the ability to think clearly.
You can’t avoid frustration in life, but you can learn to effectively manage it in the beginning. Like so many other things, managing feelings of frustration may not be easy at times, but it is definitely worth it in the end.