Master Frustration

Whether you are trying to master a skill or get someone to act a certain way, things might not be as easy as you expected. This can give rise to frustration. While everyone experiences frustration on some level, you can master this feeling by understanding the root of the frustration, forming a plan to overcome it, and managing your own expectations.


Defining Your Problems

  1. Separate your problems. Frustration results from problems and obstacles in your life. To master your frustration, you will need to first separate your problems. This will allow you to deal with each problem one at a time. When you devote all of your resources into fixing one problem, you will be much more effective than if you try to solve all of your issues at once.[1]
    • For example, if you are frustrated because you want to be healthier, you might need to break that idea down to specific problems. Some common issues around health are things like:
      • Snacking too much at the office
      • Drinking sugary drinks at home
      • Avoiding exercise during the week
      • Staying up too late on weekends
  2. Classify each problem. Your problems and obstacles will come from various parts of your life and cause frustration. You may encounter obstacles at work, in a hobby, in school, or with your emotions. Grouping these problems into similar categories will help you identify where you experience the most frustration. Once you have identified the source of your frustrations, you can start eliminating the stressors in that environment.[1]
    • Being upset about a divorce is a common example of an emotional problem.
    • Examples of work problems could be working too few or too many hours.
  3. Envision a better situation. The first step to mastering frustrations is to know what would be less frustrating than your current situation. Spend time thinking about what life would look like with less frustration. This will give you a goal to strive towards.
    • For example, you might envision being able to relax every evening after work. This would indicate that you should work less overtime.

Creating a Strategy

  1. Choose one problem to address. Once you have identified your problems, decide which one creates the most frustration. Isolate that problem and focus on fixing it. This will dramatically reduce your frustration and let you move on to the next problem more effectively.[2]
    • For example, if you are frustrated because you want to be healthier, you could first focus on controlling your urge to snack on junk food in the office.
    • Alternatively, you could start by eliminating the easiest problems. This could free you up and give you more energy to focus on harder problems later.
  2. Find role models. A role model can be anyone that you find inspiring. You can have different role models for different parts of your life, and they can be real or fictional characters. Look to your role models as examples of how to work through frustrating issues.[3]
    • For example, if you are frustrated by your physical fitness level, you might look to a professional athlete as a role model. While you probably can’t follow their workout routine to the letter, you could adopt their dedication to physical health.
  3. Learn all you can about your obstacles. Rather than jumping in blindly, you will need well planned solutions to some problems. Use the internet or library to research solutions to your particular problem. Look for articles written on the topic and stories detailing how other people conquered the same obstacles. Draw from all of this information to help you formulate a strategy for beating your obstacle.[3]
    • For example, if you are frustrated because you lack focus on your studies, you should do research on effective study habits and make a list of strategies that you want to try.
    • You can also consult experts in the field to gain valuable insight into your problem.
  4. Practice the skills needed to be competent. A common source of frustration is the inability to do something that you want to do. Unfortunately, there is rarely a quick fix. You will have to practice repeatedly to gian the skills that you need to be successful.[3]
    • For example, if you research a study strategy and it doesn’t work the first time, you may need to continue building your study skills. It may take several tries with a good strategy before you see real improvement.
  5. Build your confidence by completing things you do well. Emotional chain reactions can happen as a result of being overly frustrated. The frustration causes you to think badly of yourself, and then you apply those thoughts and feelings to the next thing you do. To stop this reaction from happening, stop the frustrating activity and do something that you know you can do well.[2]
    • Doing something well builds your confidence and helps to break the negative emotional chain.
  6. Re-evaluate your plan. If your frustration levels are going down, then you are implementing a good strategy. However, if you remain frustrated, you might need to revisit your approach. Try making your action steps smaller and less time consuming to reduce your frustration. Also, try to make time to do things that you enjoy.[2]
  7. Start a meditation practice. Meditate daily to keep your mind centered on the present. This will reduce feelings of depression, anxiety, and frustration. Implementing the practice will also count as a positive thing that you have achieved, which will help to decrease your overall frustration level. As little as fifteen minutes of meditation per day has been shown to be physically and mentally beneficial.

Managing Expectations

  1. Identify realistic and unrealistic expectations. There are several circumstances in which you might create specific expectations. You may expect a certain dish to taste a certain way. You also might expect that someone to act a certain way. Keep a list of expectations in areas that cause you the most frustration (e.g. work). The list will help you identify which expectations are realistic and which ones are not. These expectations should be closely monitored to reduce frustration.[4]
    • For example, expecting a child to sit quietly through an entire movie is likely to leave you feeling frustrated when they start talking or moving around.
  2. Minimize your expectations. Adopt a ‘roll with the punches’ attitude to reduce frustration. By realizing that you cannot control the way that other people act, you can reduce a large number of expectations, and thus, frustration. You can also improve the quality of your life by approaching things with a neutral attitude. Then, when they go pleasantly you are more appreciative of the experience.[4]
    • For example, if you plan to go out to the park, you can appreciate a sunny day much more if you don’t expect that it will be sunny.
  3. Plan ahead for frustration. Frustration often results when things aren’t going the way you envisioned. Placing specific expectations on a situation opens you up to being let down. Falling short of expectations usually results in sadness, anger, and frustration. Take time to notice your expectations in a given situation and note how they make you feel when the situation plays out.[4]
    • Then, take action. If you know you're going to be engaging in a situation that is usually frustrating, plan activities in advance to keep calm.

Sources and Citations

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