No one wants to feel frustrated. It’s annoying, painful, and …well, frustrating. One of the common qualities that all humans have is that we are all compelled by two basic motivations; we want to avoid pain and pursue pleasure. Despite the desire to live a pain-free life, pain is necessary and helpful. One example of this is how frustration can lead to positive change. On a small scale, everything we have learned in life is due to the frustration or discomfort of not knowing something or not being able to do something we wanted to do. From our earliest days we learn to walk and talk because we get frustrated that we cannot communicate effectively to get what we want and we cannot move ourselves efficiently across the floor. So frustration is necessary.
This is a helpful fact to keep in mind when you face day to day frustrations that make your life feel stressful. If we see those frustrations as things to avoid or eliminate, we miss out on the opportunity to grow and change in a positive way. You cannot prevent frustration from occurring, but you can control how you respond to it.
- Let frustration signal ultimate failure
- Give up
- Interpret frustration as a sign that you are weak or lacking in some way
- Use frustration as a signal to exercise creative problem solving
- See frustration as an opportunity to develop resilience
- Use frustration as motivation to learn more, change old habits, and challenge limiting expectations
Focus on what you have control over. Don’t try to control the source of your frustration. Spend your energy on controlling how you respond to the frustrating situation. Frustration helped you immensely when you were a child, and it can help you immensely now.
Shawn Healy, PhD