When was the last time you felt frustrated?
It likely wasn’t too long ago, was it?
During the course of a single day, we can find ourselves feeling frustrated many times over.
We can feel frustrated sitting in traffic.
We can feel frustrated dealing with an employee.
We can feel frustrated with the demands of our customers.
We can feel frustrated by something our spouse did or didn’t do.
We can feel frustrated when we don’t know where something is going.
We can feel frustrated with ourselves when we’re trying something new, don’t know the answer, or do something “wrong”.
With a seemingly endless array of opportunities for experiencing frustration, surely there must be some greater purpose for it.
And in fact, I believe there is a greater purpose for it.
But before I get into that, let’s take a deeper look into what frustration really is.
Let’s start with a working definition from Wikipedia…
“In psychology, frustration is a common emotional response to opposition, related to anger, annoyance and disappointment. Frustration arises from the perceived resistance to the fulfillment of an individual’s will or goal and is likely to increase when a will or goal is denied or blocked.”
Frustration arises from the perceived resistance to the fulfillment of an individual’s will or goal.
So who’s perception are we talking about here?
That’s right – our own.
So your frustration, my frustration, has nothing to do with what someone else is doing, or what circumstances we find ourselves in.
My frustration arises from my perception that something or someone is blocking me from my goal.
If I don’t perceive someone or something is blocking me, then I don’t feel frustrated. When I do have that perception, then I feel frustration.
Have you ever had to get yourself and your kids out the door in the morning and you’ve been running late? Every minute is stressful! You’re yelling at the kids, they’re yelling back
at you. No-one is having a good time. Your goal is to be on time, but your perception is that you’re not going to achieve your goal.
Compare that to a morning when you’re on time, or even early. Everyone’s relaxed – maybe even joking around. Same scenario, but this time your perception is you will achieve your goal of being on time, so you won’t feel frustrated.
Frustration alerts you to recognise your values and beliefs are being challenged.
Whether the frustration is external (like the previous example) or internal, it is a signal for YOU – not for anyone else.
It exists so you and I can take the opportunity to look within ourselves and uncover the beliefs which drive our behaviour.
When life goes the way we think it should, we are unaware of the beliefs which drive our behaviour. It’s only when those beliefs butt up against something which challenges them, that we have an opportunity to know them and work on them.
So when someone or something causes you to feel frustration, be grateful.
Be grateful that you have another opportunity to truly know yourself and let go of or adjust old beliefs and patterns of behaviour which no longer serve you.
Do you remember the Biodome Experiment? It was a huge glass dome which housed an artificial, highly controlled environment offering the perfect conditions for life.
People lived in the biodome for many months at a time, and everything seemed to do very well, with one exception. When the trees grew to be a certain height, they simply fell over. It baffled the scientists until they realised they’d neglected one element… wind.
Trees need wind to blow against them.
It’s the tree’s internal response to the stress which creates the tree’s strength.
No wind = no stress = no strength
Like the Biodome Experiment, often we think that if everything was perfect, life would be perfect. But that is a deception of the mind. We need to be challenged in order to develop our own strength. Without challenge, we’re like the trees in the biodome – weak and brittle, incapable of fulfilling our purpose.
We should also model our response to challenge on the tree. The tree does not stand rigid against the wind, trying to force its will upon it. Instead it uses the wind to strengthen itself from the inside out, so that no matter how great the wind, the tree still stands.
So when we’re faced with challenge, like the tree we need to go with it, rather than trying to fight against it.
You will continue to suffer if you have an emotional reaction to everything that is said or done to you. Your strength does not come from reacting to your frustration.
You become stronger as you develop your ability to step back from your egoic reaction and not immediately denouncing someone as a ‘moron’ or a ‘w*****’ when they do something you don’t like.
You become stronger as you develop your ability to dig into your frustration and understand why this person, or this situation, is triggering a frustration response in you.
Because when you have an insight into WHY you’re reacting the way you are, you have the power. You have the power to change the belief, to change your response, to change your circumstances, to change your life.
So why do we get frustrated?
I believe we experience frustrated so that we can become the best version of ourselves and live our highest life priorities to the best of our capabilities.
If you’d like to know more about how our coaching process supports business owners to become the best versions of themselves and leaders in their communities by understanding how their minds work and harnessing untapped potential, then reach out. We’d love to work with you to achieve the business and the life you deserve for you and your family.
Access FREE Foundations For A High Performance Team.
What does it take to actually remove yourself from the day-to-day grind of business? Learn from our panel of Business Owners who've Been There, Done That.