Do you often feel frustrated with others, perhaps yourself or even life’s circumstances? Just when things are going smoothly, frustration seems to rear its ugly head. Without notice you find yourself gripped with that stifling feeling in your chest. It is enough to make you want to scream!
Rest assured we’ve all experienced frustration at some point in our lives. Firstly, it is worth considering that frustration is a healthy sign of progress. Frustration means you are pushing the boundaries of what is possible, rather than play it safe. I like to view frustration as life’s chaos emerging through us. I am reminded of the quote by Peter Marshall which echoes these sentiments, “When we long for life without difficulties, remind us that oaks grow strong in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure.”
Frustration points the way to progress, despite how conditions may seem. Knowing this removes the tension we feel when life is against us. It might be reasoned that it is our thinking that is against us, rather than life opposing us. Change the way you look at things and the things you look at begin to change, serves as a timely reminder espoused by spiritual leaders underscoring the potential to shape our thoughts.
Let us examine a number of strategies to deal with this untimely force the next time it appears.
1. Examine Your Thoughts: When we feel frustrated, we are resisting reality. We are opposing WHAT IS. As Byron Katie reminds us in her powerful program, The Work – reality always trumps thoughts. Reality is merely a reflection of our inner world. As we adjust our thoughts, our reality catches up to coincide with our inner landscape.
2. Frustration Is A Future Event: Examine your thoughts as it relates to the frustration. Frustration signifies a desired future event not meeting the expectations you have in the present moment. It means you have disconnected from the present moment. When you are grounded in the NOW you cannot be frustrated, since all your needs are met – within this moment. When the external world does not match your inner world, frustration ensues.
3. Acknowledge The Frustration: Many people deny their frustrations believing it to be inappropriate to feel this way. Acknowledge the frustration by simply allowing it to be there. Witness it without labelling it – do not judge it. Get in touch with the energy of the frustration, rather than become embroiled in the emotion. Use the following questions to examine the emotional context of your frustrations.
- What does frustration look like? Colour, energy, shape etc
- What does it feel like? Dense, heavy, restricting, tense
- What does the frustration want you to know? You are trying to hard
- How can you transform the frustration into a positive energy? You are getting closer to your desired goal or outcome
4. Frustration Begins In The Mind: Appreciate that frustration are thoughts charged with an emotional energy. An emotion is energy in motion. Catch the thought before it transforms into a toxic emotion by becoming aware of it. Tend to the thought before it spirals out of control that is. There is a moment, a period when a thought migrates into a powerful emotion or a debilitating one. Be aware when your thoughts are in discord with your external reality. Simply observing your thoughts through mindfulness puts the brakes on them spiralling out of control.
5. Use Mindfulness Techniques: A useful strategy for dealing with frustration is mindfulness. This practice invites you to bring your frustrated thoughts to the forefront of your mind. Simply sit with the thought as though you were consoling a small child who has been hurt. There is no need to do anything other than offer your presence to the thought. Close your eyes and translate the thoughts into images if that helps you. View the thoughts as though you were rehearsing a mental imagery of a scene. Remember the Viewmaster toy you played with as a child? That little red box you looked into for hours with 3D images on a circular paper wheel. Give your imagined scene similar life by noticing the colours, sounds and other appealing aspects.
6. Frustration Is A Sign Of Progress: Frustration means you are making headways in areas of your life. It is likely that you will encounter frustration as you venture into uncharted waters. Much like taking a road trip, one cannot possibly know in advance the detours and obstacles that lay ahead on the journey – nor can you plan for it. When you stumble upon obstacles, the best course of action is simply to deal with it by calling upon your inner resources.
There are no right or wrong ways to deal with frustration. Appreciate that it is a learning curve steeped with detours and roadblocks. In time and with patience and fortitude you will have mastered the emotion in a relaxed and peaceful manner.
In summary, the key to mastering frustration is reflected in the following points:
- Do not allow frustration to overwhelm you.
- Remain steadfast in your pursuit.
- Do not give up, despite how things may appear.
- Learn the valuable lessons contained within the experience.
Founder of The Power to Navigate Life, Tony is one of Australia’s leading self-empowerment speakers, authors and coach on Mind-Body health.
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