Encouragementology

Dealing with Frustration in a Positive Way

April 28, 2020

UGH, how are you dealing with YOUR frustration these days?  Letting it out, keeping it in, channeling it in a negative direction, stress eating, stress napping, or caught in a constant ying-yang struggle of gloom & doom meets, silver lining? One thing is for sure, these are stressful and uncertain times. It’s hard to be strong every day when you are navigating a storm. Even Happy-Go-Lucky types can have bad days. Frustration is a part of stress and worry and a natural emotion. Before you succumb completely, let’s explore positive alternatives to this life challenge.

Frustration: the feeling of being upset or annoyed, especially because of the inability to change or achieve something. Nailed it! We are definitely experiencing something we can’t immediately change. Have there been other times in your life where you have been stuck in an impossible situation?  If you are remembering a specific time, how did you get through? How were you able to overcome that situation? Sometimes, we have to be reminded of the power we have. Especially in what appears to be, a powerless situation! The power to adjust, accept, navigate, modify, and overcome. You did one of those things to be able to talk about it today. 

No one WANTS to be sad, in a bad mood, angry, depressed, or frustrated. Sometimes the feelings are overwhelming and we can’t see what lies just beyond success. It seems so far away and unattainable at times why bother right? Wrong. You have the power to dig yourself out or prop yourself up. There IS a silver lining in everything you just have to get to the right vantage point to see it. 

Now, I’m a positive person who always looks for the silver lining. You know the one, sometimes you seek them out because they can help you find the good in all the bad and sometimes you run from them because they never RSVP for your pity-party for one. But still, they have the unique ability to let things go and radically make a switch to problem-solving when things get rough. Yep, that’s me. It’s the main reason I became a Life & Recovery Coach. For years friends and acquaintances would say, “don’t you ever get down?” Or “how are you able to just let things roll off your back and move on?”. The only thing I can tell you is, I don’t like to be in a bad mood. I don’t like to be sad or frustrated. I need and desperately want to be happy so as a result, I don’t stay stuck. At least not for long. 

That doesn’t mean that I don’t have bad days or that I don’t get stressed out. I do. I just don’t stay there very long. I have a moment of pause and reflect and then I move into problem-solving mode and get to work. There is always another idea you just have to be open to exploration. 

Recently I was feeling anxious and frustrated. Seeing the world suffer, being unable to fix the problem, unable to gather with the people you love, and prevented from being there for the people who need it most is feeling unfair. I had and may still have restless feels. Like an animal in a cage just pacing back and forth back and forth. Yes, happy to be alive but unable to fulfill a purpose. It has given me a lot of time to reflect and forced me to a new vantage point to see the bigger picture. 

People need people and no matter what we produce to simulate that experience, it will never replace the benefits of human to human contact, love, and support. My hope is that we all come to this conclusion and fight not to lose it in everything that we do. 

Clearly giving to others is healthy for our community and vital to our survival. Finding ways to give, support, and connect during these trying times can add to your frustration. Remember when I said, a better vantage point? It’s easy to get frustrated and feel defeated when you feel you are going this along. You are just here digging away in the ditch by yourself or machetting your way through the jungle on a solo mission but news flash. We are all facing challenges right now. You are not alone even if your proximity to another person begs to differ.

A friend of mine gave me a visual from another vantage point. Instead of thinking that we are all in the same boat dealing with exactly the same things considered, we are all in the same storm but in different boats. A crisis can impact each person differently but still, that person is impacted. Finding a new vantage point means getting above your own cause and effect and trying to empathize with the world around you. 

Everyone is looking for a diversion right about now. I’m learning the violin & Spanish and knitting a sea of scarves. I’m also getting outside and appreciating nature. What a better reminder that things are going to be ok than the changing of the seasons with a nice slow, stunning roll out. I’m also reconnecting with my thoughts. Just over a month ago, I was not only burning the candle at both ends but I had all of them on fire. I had almost all day, every day, planned out. If I wanted to fit in some “me-time” I had a few spots left or could try and move something around. 

I love to be busy and productive but is that what I was doing? I felt overwhelmed but I couldn’t let anything go. I needed to be in charge of everything on my schedule to feel good about myself and to feel like I was doing my part. 

Fast forward and it’s an intentional reminder that you can’t do it all and guess what, you shouldn’t try anyway. Life still goes on whether you are running 90-to-nothing to say ahead or you are barely keeping up. It still goes. How do you want to participate?

I’m always talking about a healthy balance. Everything in moderation even, moderation. But I wasn’t practicing what I was preaching. I was frustrated. When you get the nudge, a simple reminder, or a hammer over the head, take notice. Your body and your mind are trying to tell you something. Also, the universe and your higher power might be redirecting your trajectory but if you are so bull-headed to believe you have life figured out then, frustration is inevitable. 

Getting out of your own head and focusing on someone else might be the right type of diversion at a time like this. Let’s crawl up to a higher spot to get a better vantage of what’s going on around us. This will help us deal with our frustration in a positive way.

Remember those boats in the storm? Frustration can come from every angle and for any reason. Part of practicing empathy is to try and understand your neighbor's frustration may be the same or totally different than yours. Nevertheless, they are still frustrated. During a crisis, the point of impact can come from any direction, and in most cases, multiple ones. You might have lost your job as a result of a government shutdown but your neighbor might have lost a loved one. You might feel slided by the takeover but your neighbor is scared by the threat of something they can’t see or detect. All of those fears and frustrations are real. 

Before you judge someone based on their reaction to a crisis, try and put yourself in their shoes. Maybe use this as a connection point. Not to ridicule and belittle but to understand. Fear is real. Loss is long-lived. Frustration can be overcome. 

When we isolate we have a tendency to escalate and exaggerate our feelings. Getting worked up when you can’t make an immediate change in your circumstance and snowball the effect. 

STOP - no really, say stop to interrupt this behavior. You are in control of you. No one else knows what’s going on in your head so want a way out? Find the door.

FREEZE - take a snapshot of where you are in your stress. You need to see yourself reacting in order to change directions. Hover above to get a better picture of the mouse maze you are in. 

UNDERSTAND - peel back the stress to find the source. Remember, frustration is the reaction but what is the cause. In times like these, it may take very little for you to react so be willing to laugh at yourself.

BREATHE - not to put you into some type of yoga routine you aren’t ready for here but breathing is multi-beneficial. You get more oxygen to your brain but most importantly, it gives you space to react appropriately. 

SOLVE - try to solve your situation instead of adding fuel to the fire. “Pity party for 1”. It’s easy to stew the pot by continuing the rumination but where is the productivity in that? Instead - what can you do now to move on. This may be as simple as changing tasks or moving to another room. You might just need to table it for a better and more accepting time of the day; square peg in round hole kind of thing. 

FORGIVE - It’s ok to get frustrated. You are human. Forgive yourself for the mini-meltdown and try and learn something. Maybe a trigger point like balancing the checkbook before the coffee is a no no or trying to make an elaborate family dinner on a little sleep is a disaster. Just know your threshold and right now, until you can work through this hump on your journey, avoid it. 

You have the power to calm, redirect, and learn. When strengthened, a valuable tool you will use often on the road to self-discovery.

CHALLENGE: Take this time to reflect on your true feelings. Frustration is just a symptom of the inability for immediate change. Redirect to connect and empathize with others to gain a valuable vantage point.

I Know YOU Can Do It!

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