“I’m SO Frustrated!!!”
When was the last time you said those three words to yourself or to someone you trust? I wouldn’t be surprised if you answered, “Within the last hour!”
That’s because frustration is an easy place to find ourselves when things aren’t going the way we’d like them to.
Yes, it’s SO EASY to get into frustration, but often SO DIFFICULT to get ourselves back out. Ugh, what’s the deal?
Well, that’s potentially a loaded question. Sometimes disarming a situation loaded with frustration can be a challenge. Pun intended here – it can be like getting a crazed criminal trying to defend himself to put down the gun.
There are three things worth looking for when frustration shows up to suck all of the energy and joy out of your life.
So when you feel like the frustration kill-joy is rearing its head (and always at the worst time, too, like when you’re looking forward to a romantic dinner date and someone cuts you off on the interstate entrance ramp) practice looking for these three things: perspective, resistance, and choice.
How we react to our circumstances so often comes down to the perspective we are looking at our situation from. When things frustrate us, our perspective is often that something is out of our control and may also be inconsistent with our values.
Take the example of getting cut off by another driver. In that case, we may not “believe” in cutting someone off, and on top of that, we can’t “control” the person’s behavior. A sure-fire recipe for frustration!
There’s information in the “default” perspectives we choose when we look at our circumstances. You may begin to notice that the perspective you have when a guy cuts you off on the interstate is, “He’s not playing by the rules!” or “I’ve been wronged!”
When you start to pay attention to your perspectives, you might notice that you see lots of situations as, “I’ve been wronged.”
Could it be that your perspective, and not the circumstance, is actually what is causing frustration? YEP – it sure can.
The driver behind you (who was also cut off by the same guy) might perceive the whole incident as an accident and still be joyfully driving down the road with his sweetheart. Perspective is POWERFUL.
I’m sure you have heard the saying, “What we resist persists.” But what does it really mean? And how does this relate to frustration?
If you can take a look at what is frustrating you a bit more closely, you may see something you are resisting or avoiding.
That thing you are avoiding can become a roadblock to forward progress. It can literally “cut off” options that would allow you to move past frustration. Over time, these things we are trying to avoid get harder and harder to avoid. And the harder they are to avoid, the more often they seem to “show up” and frustrate us.
So maybe you are like me and hate to upset other people. You avoid it at all costs. You do everything you can to avoid upsetting people.
What happens when you have to choose between something that you really don’t want to do and upsetting someone you care about? There it is….Yep – you get frustrated.
That thing you are avoiding is the one thing between you and what you really want, just sitting there like a giant roadblock in the road.
Disappointing others is just one example. For you, it might be confrontation. Or anger. Or intimacy. Or failure. You get the idea.
By resisting this thing at all costs, you literally are cutting off options for getting where you want to go. Pretty frustrating, huh?
It’s like having 12 possible roads available to get somewhere and only being able to take one of them. By taking a closer look at those things that you are resisting or avoiding, you may be able to find the “root cause” of your frustration roadblock. And once you know what you are dealing with, you can face your fear and drive right through it.
Choice is related to perspectives because the perspectives we hold are our choice. We choose the perspectives we see the world through.
Choice is also related to resistance. Once we see what we are resisting, we can choose to stop resisting it.
We choose to resist or avoid those things we think will be painful, thus allowing those things to block our progress and limit our freedom.
But there is an even bigger aspect of choice. If you find yourself feeling frustrated, you might want to take a closer look at where you have decided that you don’t have a choice.
Often times, when we get frustrated, it is because we believe that we are victims of our circumstances. We tell ourselves that we don’t have a choice because our circumstances are in control.
Here are a few examples:
While these can seem like “legitimate excuses,” they are far from it. These are places where we have decided – consciously or unconsciously – that we are not in control of our circumstances and have abdicated responsibility for the choices we make.
If you find yourself feeling frustrated, look for that place where you have been telling yourself that you aren’t in control, and look for the choices that you are really making.
Once you see where you are actually making choices, you can begin to see that you have new choices that you can make. You can find a new job, you can get a babysitter, or you can get a second job or even take a “staycation.”
You are not a victim of your circumstances. Take back your power to choose and new options for navigating your circumstances will emerge.
I’m certainly wishing you all the best the next time you navigate a frustrating situation. But I’m curious, too.
Where are YOU frustrated? What “AH HAs” emerged for you as you read this? How could shifting your perspective, facing your resistance, or reclaiming your choices impact YOUR current frustrations?
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!
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