I have a huge experience with frustration. I experienced it in so many ways, at so many times in my life, that I feel like I’m some kind of a specialist. If you wonder why I have this huge expertise, here’s the answer: growth never happens without it. The more you are able to harvest, resolve and overcome frustration, the more growth you’re experiencing. Avoiding it, hiding from it, deluding the game, none of these strategies will make you a better human being. On the contrary.
What follows is a list of tools and approaches I used to solve my own frustration and limitation episodes.
1. Accept Reality
Yes, something bad happened. Don’t spend your day imagining how beautiful life could be if it wasn’t for that stupid incident or mistake. This is it. It is frustrating, no doubt about it, but rejecting this reality will not lower the frustration, on the contrary, will make it stronger and stronger. Accept reality.
2. Shift Your Focus
It’s so easy to get caught in a spiral of anger and despair when you’re frustrated, and I know that first hand. Shift your focus by engaging in small but demanding activities. Get involved. Do take the necessary steps to get over the frustrating situation, but do not ignore everything else around you.
3. Talk About It With A Friend
Find somebody you trust and talk about it. Let it out. Don’t let it grow inside yourself until you explode. Most of the time, when you reach this point, it’s too late to make a meaningful change that will restore your reality. Let your worries and your tension fly. After all, this is what friends are for, right?
4. Journal It
If you don’t keep a journal, start now. Write down all your fears, all your sensations and describe them in great detail. Do it until you feel you can’t do it no more. You’re going to feel incredibly better. Writing has this side effect of lowering what you write about, making it more manageable. Just try it.
5. Write A Letter About It
Imagine you’re on a desert island. Sit down and write a letter to somebody who could potentially rescue you. Be verbose. Imagine how your life will be after you leave that desert island. Because if you can’t describe that, you will never leave the island. Then destroy the letter.
6. Write A Worse Case Scenario
What is the worst thing that may happen to you right now? List everything from physical loss to emotional imbalances. Try to foresee every little detail of a worst case scenario. What life will you live if everything will turn out as bad as possible? Then read it. It won’t look as bad as you thought.
7. Identify A List Of Possible Actions
What exactly will make the situation acceptable again? What are the things that you could actually do to improve your current status? Make a list. Try to identify every possible action, as improbable as it may seem, and put it on the list. At the end of this, you’ll feel much better: you have work to do.
8. Sleep Over It
Most of your unconscious life happens while you’re asleep. Try to go to bed with a clear thought of resolution. Don’t try to find a solution, just prepare yourself for getting out of that frustrating circle. During the night your unconscious mind will find resources to make you stronger.
9. Be Your Own Avatar
Try to look at yourself from “the outside”. Write on a piece of paper what an observer would see at you. How do you behave? How do you talk, how do you act? The more you’ll do this exercise, the more you’ll differentiate yourself from the frustrating persona and take control over it at the same time.
10. Read Something Funny
This will not solve your problem, most of the time it will only switch your focus to something else, giving you a temporary break. Do not mistake this technique with avoidance, just use it as a chillout session, then get back on track and solve whatever you have to solve.
11. Stop Blaming Yourself
Maybe you did something really wrong, and your current situation is the result of that mistake. Take responsibility but don’t blame yourself. It’s all in the past. You’re in the present now and you can do something about it. Blame will only put weight on that past and drag you down. Avoid it at all cost.
12. Take A Walk
Even on the wild side, if you like the wild side, but do take a walk. The mere action of moving will set you up for action and hopefully will make your mind a little clearer. Walking always helps me put my thoughts in order and let off the steam a little bit. And it’s free of charge, you know?
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13. See It From The Future
This one goes hand in hand with number 6. Try to describe your current situation and look at it from the future. 1 year from now, your problem will be asÂ big as it is right now? How about 5 years? Or 10 years? Putting your frustration in a larger context will usually weaken it or at least make it manageable.
14. Cook A Delicious Meal
As simple and mundane as it may seem, cooking is an art. And every time you perform some sort of an art, you’ll see the world through your intuitive mind. You’ll summon your way out of frustration rather than find it through logical inference. And cooking is the cheapest – and tastiest – art one can afford.
15. Go To A Party
Not to be abused and transformed into some sort of escapism but extremely useful to lower your shirtiness. Go out, mingle and see if you can wipe out your frown from your face. You can get back to your problems later, when your body and mind will be more balanced. After the hangover, of course.
16. Write About Your Past Successes
You don’t have to keep a journal for it, you can just sit down at a table and remember all your breakthroughs. Or only the most important ones. Seeing yourself succeeding will definitely weaken that burden you still carry and help you overcome frustration faster.
17. Borrow Some Enthusiasm
Stay around energetic people or get involved in active projects. Choose to be part of something that exhales a lot of energy. Get involved in fresh projects. Being around enthusiastic people will lower the frustration to the point where it can actually become manageable. And it will make you just feel better.
18. Soak and Dry
Let it flow through you until you’re completely overloaded. Just be sure not to do something during this stage. Isolate from the world and allow yourself to be frustrated. Then slowly wait for the frustration to dry out. Sometimes, this “all you can eat” approach is the only way to deal with it in a healthy way.
19. Go Watch A Comedy
As an alternative to number 10, “Read Something Funny”. Giving yourself permission to laugh will lower your anger and hopefully will make things easier to handle. Also, seeing people in strangely hilarious situations will make your own frustration seem awkward. Through a good laugh at it.
20. Attack It With The “Why?” Weapon
Another writing exercise, in which you start to find the root cause of your frustration by asking “why?” questions. “Why am I broke?” – Because I spent too much. “Why did I spent too much” – Because I’m feeling insecure. “Why?…” You got the idea. At some point, something will click inside.
21. Volunteer For Something
Frustration is closely related to your ego, or the part of your being that is concerned with those big phrases starting with “Me…”. If you volunteer to do work for somebody else, you’ll stop feeding your ego with energy. The weaker that part gets, the stronger your authentic and powerful part will be.
22. Stand Up And Fight
Be a soldier. Give yourself orders and follow them. Instill some rough and unquestionable discipline in your life. Get up early in the morning, do your work as if you’re on a battle field and then go to sleep. Repeat until your problems become just situations you can solve by following an easy sequence of new orders.
23. Stop Blaming Others
Similar to number 11, only this time your attitude will turn towards other people, in a desperate attempt to avoid feeling hurt. Just stop it. Although it may seem like a relief, blaming others it’s just a temporary hack, it won’t last. In 99% of the situations, what we experience is the direct result of our own actions.
24. Do Small, Repetitive Tasks
Borrow the behavior of a machine. Do those tiny little things you avoided so much because they seemed so boring. Now it’s the best time to start working on them. Slicing your time and focus will dissolve the pressure. Frustration will slowly dilute in this sea of tiny, repetitive tasks.
25. See It From The Past
Alternative to number 13, looking at your own frustration from the past will color it in a new, fresher light. Most of the time, the feeling triggered by this perspective is: “I’ve been through though times before, I can get over this”. And this is more often than you think true: we have a huge life experience, we just don’t trust it enough.
26. Read Similar Stories
You’re not alone. And even if you find it difficult to talk to other people you can always do this by yourself: just scorch the Internet using descriptive keyphrases about your own frustration. You’ll discover that you’re not alone. Somebody else have been there too. And now he’s so over it.
27. Assess Progress
Every second of your life changes something. Look for the small steps you’re doing and assess them. The first item on this assessment list may be: “I’m starting to assess my progress and this is in itself a huge step forward”. The more you write, the bigger your progress will seem.
28. Disguise It
Put a mask on it, make it look like something else: “I’m feeling frustration right now, but this is a mask for…” and replace with whatever quality you want to build: discipline, personal power, endurance. Transform it. I usually use the caterpillar – butterfly image: it’s bad now but look what it can become.
29. Contrast It With A Worse Situation
Try to identify a related situation but with a significantly higher degree of damage. If you’re in debt, imagine how it will be to be bankrupt. If you’re having a relationship hickup, try to imagine how it would be to live on a desert island for the rest of your life. Be grateful for what you experience, because it can be worse.
30. Dilute It With Meditation
I don’t preach meditation as an all-in-one cure, but from my personal experience, it does help. Meditation will not only shift your focus from your current situation, but it will also clean your thoughts and help your body regain a subtle energetic balance. Remember you’ll still have to take action, meditation will only dilute it.
31. Get Physical
Start an aggressive exercising routine. Getting physical will make it easier to embrace action and to do it with vigor and determination. A side effect of exercising is the “endorphin effect”: the induction of a well-being state generated by your own body.
32. This Too Shall Pass
Impermanence is at the core of our human nature, is our curse and escape: we’re prisoners of time and everything we experience is bound to it. Laughter and sadness, joy and depression, everything will fade away in time. The same will happen to this frustrating period too: it will pass.
33. Write A List Of 33 Ways To Overcome Frustration
This is an incredible exercise. As funny as it may seem in this context, it’s actually a very powerful standalone approach. Just sit back and try to imagine 33 ways to get over your current frustration. I bet that around number 20 your problem will seem smaller than you thought it was. 🙂
Like I told you, this entire post is also available as an audio file too. Click the “play” button below for a short excerpt: