It is common to experience frustration on a daily (or even hourly) basis. Your frustration can be triggered by other people, by yourself, by technology, by work situations, or by small crises that come up all the time.
You know you are frustrated when you find yourself sighing, complaining about people, fuming over something that happened, or rehashing why you are right and they are wrong.
Frustration is normal, but holding on to frustration is not helpful. Frustration can make a bad situation worse. It can result in damaged relationships and you handling a situation less than ideally.
So, how can you calm yourself and let go of your frustrations, so you are not so irritated and angry throughout the day?
Let’s talk about why you get frustrated, and how to address this problem.
The Origins of Frustration
Where does frustration come from?
Often it is the result of things not going a certain way, people not behaving how you want them to, or not wanting yourself to be a certain way. Effectively, it is a rejection of how things are.
From this, you start to tell yourself a story: she shouldn’t act that way, she should do this. And she always does this! Why can’t she just see that she’s wrong? She’s so irritating!
You tell yourself stories all day long, and allow yourself to get caught up in them. This is where you dwell in your frustration.
A Guide to Overcoming Frustration
You can’t help frustration coming up, no matter how Zen you’d like to be. It’s natural, and so are the stories you tell yourself.
However, you can develop an awareness of it. Are you mad or irritated with someone right now? Do you find yourself clenching your jaw because of a situation? Sighing? Complaining to someone, wanting to vent? Are you fuming? Arguing your case in your mind?
When you notice yourself experiencing frustration, pause. Just sit still for a moment. Even just a few seconds, and notice your frustration. Notice how it feels in your body.
Then start to notice the story you are telling yourself. What are you telling yourself is wrong with the situation? What are you saying the other person should or shouldn’t do? How are you characterizing the other person or situation?
Now ask this: is this story helping me? Is it making the situation better or worse? Is it helping your relationship with the other person? Is it making you happy? If it’s not helpful, maybe you are creating your own unhappiness, entirely in your mind.
A Lesson In Mindfulness
Instead of telling a negative story, perhaps you can see this frustrating situation as a lesson in mindfulness and acceptance. In finding happiness no matter how other people act, no matter what situation you are in. Every moment has a lesson if you are willing to look.
If you open yourself up to this situation, you can learn a lot about how to see other people. Don’t focus on what you want them to be, but instead look at the glorious messy beauty of how they actually are, without needing them to change.
If you are learning from this situation, you can also see that the other person is unhappy. Something is causing them to act “imperfectly,” because they are frustrated themselves (as you are). In this way, you are both experiencing the same thing. You are connected, and you can understand how they feel because you are feeling it too.
They are behaving imperfectly, yes, but we all do that. That doesn’t make it right, but perhaps you can empathise with them, maybe even try to understand their story, where they are coming from. Try to see how the way they are behaving makes sense to them from their perspective. It does, you just can’t see it.
Now perhaps you can let go of your way. You want things to go your way, and for people to behave the way you want them to. But you don’t and can’t control the universe. You aren’t entitled to have everything your way. You don’t have to agree with the imperfect way that someone is acting, but insisting in your mind that they should change will only make you frustrated. So let it go!
Finally, say “yes” to the experience. Embrace the way this moment is. If you can practice saying “yes” on a regular basis, you will be able to loosen up and start to appreciate what is beautiful about the present moment. That will mean you will be frustrated less often.