A Cure For Frustration
Life is full of frustrations... the feelings of spinning your wheels and revving your engine and going absolutely nowhere, fast. Oh, if life could only go according to plan!
Frustration is an emotion that occurs when you are blocked from reaching a desired outcome. It can be anything from not being able to find your car keys in the morning (resulting in a stressful commute and anxiety about being late for work), to repeatedly running into obstacles when trying to build a business.
More than anything, frustration occurs when the effort you put in is disproportionate to the results you expected.
Frustration is not necessarily a bad thing, as it can motivate you to action. However, when things seem to conspire to thwart you... when you feel inadequate and overwhelmed... when despite your best and most genuine efforts, you don't succeed... when you lack confidence... when something unexpected like an injury prevents you from achieving a goal... when you feel like you've put in a ton of time and effort for nothing... and when you feel like an activity or event has forced you into wasting precous time... frustration can build up and result in anger, stress and depression.
There are two kinds of frustrations: internal, and external. And there are ways to cope with both!
Dealing with Internal Frustrations
Internal frustrations are tied to your beliefs about "how things are." Your beliefs about your skills and abilities, intelligence, creativity, strength, talent, etc., will cause you to operate under certain limitations. When a goal falls within your perceived limitations, you will achieve the goal - but if it lies outside your self-imposed limitations, you will feel a lot of frustration. If you desire to make $1,000,000 a year, that goal requires you to believe that you are worthy and capable of making a million bucks a year since belief is essential to you taking the right actions and making the righ choices... yet if your "income ceiling" is firmly set at $100,000 as the maximum you believe you can ever earn, you will run into a lot of mental and emotional obstacles and experience significant cognitive dissonance simply because the goal and the belief do not match. You will feel intensely uncomfortable about the goal. You will lack motivation, you will procrastinate, you will talk yourself out of it and you may even self-sabotage, just to maintain the status quo and "live within your beliefs." Yes, you will be frustrated that you can't achieve your desire, but you won't do much about it.
The danger with internal frustrations is that they can erode your self-esteem, and cause a downward spiral of depression, lack of motivation and giving up. You can self-reprogram so that you believe in yourself and aren't feeling held back by limitations... limitations you probably made up in the first place. This self-reprogramming is done through regular daily practice:
- Acknowledge to yourself that you always have the capacity to learn a new skill, acquire knowledge or otherwise use your intellect to overcome a situation. Tell yourself, "I can figure it out."
- Create new habits. If you routinely lose your car keys, you can train yourself to always put them in the same spot. If you procrastinate, you can train yourself to spend 5 minutes every day on the thing you want to avoid. 5 minutes won't kill you and it will make you feel better because you are making some progress.
- Change your self-story. Whenever you speak or think about your limitations, you only reinforce them. Practice speaking and thinking about being a little better. Keep setting the bar just a little higher so that you realize that with a little extra effort, you can attain this new level of skill or capacity to overcome a challenge... attain that level and set a new standard for yourself, and always keep learning.
- Choose to see situations as challenges that stimulate you to grow, rather than as obstacles to your desires.
- Practice gratitude and appreciation. What is this situation teaching you? How can it benefit you, long-term?
Dealing with External Frustrations
You can't influence weather or other people's actions. You can't always anticipate injury. You can't always be sure that the choice you make will work. You can't anticipate it all and prevent it all, but you can, 100% of the time, choose how you're going to interpret and respond. Here's how to deal with the unpredictable, unexpected and unavoidable:
- The famous Serenity Prayer can help you accept that things just "are" and it's up to you how you feel about them: "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference."
- You can train yourself to be more resilient, adaptable and flexible by refusing to let the situation upset you. You can learn to treat it as an adventure by laughing and yelling, "Plot twist!" Seriously - humor goes a long way to making the best of a situation!
- You can use the situation to elevate yourself, and make the best use of the time you're forced into not moving forward. For example, if you're an athlete and you're injured and can't train, you can take the time to mentally rehearse success (mental training has been shown to be nearly as effective as physical training in preparing athletes for competition). Most down time is a great opportunity for a quick meditation. Or, if you are stuck at the airport and your 30-minute layover turns into 8 hours because of weather, you can read a book, meet new people, journal, write a screenplay, design your new kitchen...
- Think of potential frustrations as rocks in an otherwise smoothly flowing stream. Flow around them smoothly and gracefully. Think about it - how boring to look at moving water without any ripples, waves or eddies to catch the light! Always, in every situation, think about the potential benefits. What did this detour inspire in you? What did it teach you? Patience? Perseverance? Resilience? Flexibility? Good humor?
You can stop feeling frustrated the instant you CHOOSE to stop being frustrated. That's it.
Although potentially frustrating situations won't stop happening, you can cure yourself of feeling perpetually frustrated that things aren't going your way. A cure for frustration is easier said than done, but you can train yourself to be significantly less affected by life's monkey wrenches!
For a daily dose of "chill out" and to help you reframe the way you see everyday situations that cause you frustration, use MindPT. A simple practice which can be as short as 3 minutes a day, will assist you in training yourself to cope with internal and external frustrations. The most affordable way to get your hands on a wide variety of MindPT sessions targeted at specific goals and challenge areas is to get a monthly subscription. For just $9.95/month you recieve TWO MindPT sessions of your choice, so that you can change your limiting beliefs, become calmer and more centered, and motivate yourself to action on your goals. Click on the image to subscribe!