A good friend of mine recently asked me about frustration. As in, how do you handle it?I guess the first thing to do is look at what is frustration. And we also ought to look at impatience, since the two are so closely linked.I would say they’re both the experience you feel when you’re cut off from the flow. When you’re cut off from your ‘access to resources’.Impatience is when you’re trying hard to not be in the present moment. It’s when you don’t want to be ‘here and now’. And why would someone not want to be in the present moment? Because they don’t want to feel frustrated… among other things.See, we’re all good people here, right? We just want to be happy and loving and experience harmony in our lives. We want to feel good. We don’t want to feel impatient and frustrated. So when those feelings come up, we don’t want to ‘be here now’. Because being here now is frustrating!
Therefore, we want to be somewhere else. It sounds logical when you think about it. The problem is, we can’t really get away from ourselves. We can’t really think our way out of feeling. We might be able to stuff down the feelings, or distract ourselves from them… but rather than being a solution, we’re just kicking the problem down the road.And, unfortunately, we’ll usually end up paying interest on our unpaid debt. Meaning, the frustration and impatience grow. They get bigger. And we keep finding ourselves in situations that ‘make’ us feel impatient… and frustrated.But we don’t want those feelings! We’re good honest people. We shouldn’t be feeling this way. So we have to try even harder to not feel this way. And the cycle continues, as the unresolved feelings keep growing.
But that’s not even the worst of it. We struggle, which leads to functioning as a martyr. And we feel powerless, which leads to rage.Just a little bit of impatience, if left unattended, can lead to all sorts of unpleasant emotional states. Frustration. Struggle. Martyr. Powerlessness. Rage.
That’s the problem.
Now, ultimately, it’s a series of wrong choices that lead us from a little bit of impatience all the way to the final destination of hostility and rage. It’s a slippery slope that starts with being impatient.To compound the problem, most people really don’t understand patience and what it means. Usually, it’s used as a euphemism for impatience. As in, “Sit down, shut up and be patient! You’ll get your turn!”
“Just be patient.” Meaning, sit there and suffer. Quietly. Until it’s your turn. But that’s not patience. That’s impatience. Which leads down that slippery slope.
No. Patience means to consciously be real and authentic with an abundance of paying attention to detail with fluidity and flexibility. Patience means to be in the moment… with responsibility. Patience means I am going to engage (on a feeling level) with everything I’m aware of.Rather than going horizontally, I’m going to go vertically. I’m going to open up to what’s around me, and what’s inside me. Rather than trying to escape the present moment, I’m going to expand the present moment. Rather than trying to avoid feeling those unpleasant feelings, I’m going to respond to those unpleasant feelings.
And of course, I’m going to respond to the pleasant ones as well. I’m going to hear the birds singing in the background, for example.Because hey, it’s not all bad! In fact, once you ‘get through’ the unpleasant feelings – once you clean out the ‘gunk’ and give back the shame (and stop shaming yourself) you’ll find life gets very fun and enjoyable.
Then you’ll find yourself being patient more and more of the time. You’ll find yourself being in a calm and centered state quite naturally. And you’ll get that ‘vertical knowing’ – where you know just what you need to know, when you need to know it. And it will all come natural.
But if you’re frustrated now (or in a worse state), those are just words. Empty promises.
“What am I supposed to do, exactly?!!”
Glad you asked. Hold on while I climb up on my soap box one more time. So everybody in the back can hear.
Emotions are not the enemy. They’re not something to be ashamed of. They’re not something to avoid. They don’t make you a bad person. Frustration is not your enemy. It’s a whisper. It’s a normal reaction you feel when things aren’t going your way.
When frustration comes up, the first thing most people do is try not to feel it. That’s the first wrong choice. They try to fight it. They see it as the enemy. They see it as something to conquer or control or dominate or get away from any way you can!
Look, there’s a flow going on. All the time. When you’re in that flow, life is good. When you’re not in that flow, one of the first things you feel is frustration. And it goes downhill from there.I don’t know about you, but frankly, I want an oil warning light on the dashboard of my car. I want to know when things are going wrong. Or, when they’re about to go wrong!When that little red light comes on, it’s for a reason. When you feel frustration, it’s for a reason also.The first thing I would do is just stop what I’m doing for a second. Maybe take a few deep breaths. And understand – I got out of the flow. And that’s okay. Life happens. I’m not perfect. When you’re driving down the road, you have to make little corrections to the steering wheel. And that’s okay! When you don’t make those continuous corrections, you’re going to end up frustrated in the ditch and maybe a whole lot worse.
Frustration is an opportunity.
It’s a time and a chance to get back on track. So how do you do it?
It’s important to understand, so much of the frustration we feel today is the accumulation of years of past frustrations that were allowed to build. Usually, we already have a full glass of frustration when we first start consciously working with it.
And that’s great! Because now you have even more opportunity to heal and grow and change. Just emptying that glass can make a world of difference as to how much frustration you’ll be feeling in the future. So how do you empty the glass?
You can start by channeling it out of you such as by writing out your frustrations on paper. Scribble and scream on the page. That’s where I started when I first went to work on my glass of anger and frustration. I had a big glass, by the way. And there was no magic technique I used. I just got out paper and pen and started bleeding all that static energy off of me and onto the paper.
Here’s what complicates things:
1. Frustration can be handed down from one person to the next as shame. In other words, it’s possible you could be feeling your parent’s frustration. You can still bleed off a good bit of it by processing on paper (or verbally) but some frustration will remain in the glass no matter how much you vent.This frustration must be returned to the offender. I’ve written a few articles on the blog about shame, but it’s far from the complete picture. If you want to work with me privately one-on-one, you can sign up for a personal consultation.
2. There is more to you than meets the eye. Quite a bit more, in fact. You have an ego, an inner child, an inner adolescent, an inner parent, and many more parts as well. When you function from your ego, or your inner child, or your inner victim or inner martyr, then you’ll be trapped in frustration. Guaranteed.The good news is, you had to choose to function as one of these ‘lesser’ parts of you. And thus, you can make a new choice. The bad news is, it can become quite an ingrained habit. It goes unrecognized, and thus unacknowledged. And it won’t change by itself.
To top it off, when you’re in the middle of it, it’s hard to see what you’re doing.
For this, I would suggest several things. First, read up on shame, since it’s at the root of the problem. The reason people function as any other ‘lesser’ part of themselves is due to shame, in one form or another… to one degree or another.
Think about it…
Source – Mark Ivar Myhre