- Freeze frame that moment. What are you actually thinking? The truth is it’s all in your head. Before you “fly off the handle” a thought process takes place, related to the situation you find yourself in. This thought can either increase or lower the chance of you becoming frustrated.
Examples of irrational beliefs/thoughts:
- I can’t take this. Really? What will happen if you have to endure another hour of sitting in traffic or waiting in a queue? Will you collapse and die? Suffer a mental breakdown? More than likely nothing so drastic will happen but you won’t be doing your blood pressure any favours by getting worked up over it. You do have a choice though. You can continue to work yourself up over the source of your frustration or you can find some way to make it more bearable, like listening to music, planning what you are going to do tomorrow, catching up on calls or doing some reading.
- This is too much. Too much for you to bear? If the answer is yes then remove yourself from the situation before you actually blow up. Make a quick exit and find something else to do. On the other hand, if it’s an inconvenience, frustration or annoyance that you are finding difficult – you need to weigh things up. For instance if you’ve waited for hours in a queue you need to decide whether it’s worth it. Can you leave and come back at a less busy time? If not then consider the benefit of what you are standing in the queue for and try to find some way of spending the time productively. You always have choices. No one is forcing you do anything. You choose to do it.
- I can’t wait that long. You can’t wait or you don’t want to wait? There is a difference. If you really can’t wait then leave and come back later when you have more time. However if you just don’t want to wait, then you have a choice to make. Does the benefit of continuing to wait in the queue outweigh the frustration? It’s up to you to decide.
- It shouldn’t be this way. Maybe not but it is this way. So what can you do about it? If this is the way it is then you can’t change it. The only thing you can do is choose how you react to it. Don’t forget. It’s all about choices.
- It shouldn’t be this difficult or complicated. Yes but it is. So how do you deal with it? You have to deal with the reality of the situation. It is not the ideal situation that you would like it to be so it is pointless to think that it should be. What is the best course of action considering the situation? Since you don’t have the power to change the difficulty or complexity you are faced with all you can do is deal with it. For instance let’s just say you are trying to fill out a complicated form and feel out of your depth. Could you find someone to give you advice or help you complete it? Or could you leave it until later when you are less tired and in a better frame of mind? If you have to do it yourself then think about the free time you will have once you’re finished, when you can enjoy yourself by doing something you really want to do.
- I should always be happy and content. Really? Or what? Where is that written? Is that true for everyone or just you? It is natural to want to be happy and content, but is it realistic to expect it to be that way all the time?
- Things must go my way and I can’t stand it if they don’t. It simply isn’t possible for things to go your way all of the time so you will have to find a way to bear it. We can’t all be first in line in every queue or crossroad in life. So what are you going to do when it’s not your day? Find ways of building up your tolerance level and make the best of situations that are less than ideal.
- I can’t stand being frustrated. I must avoid it at all costs. If you really feel that way then of course it is possible to avoid certain situations. Do bear in mind though what you may be missing out on through avoidance. Only then will you be able to make an informed decision as to whether it’s worth it to you or not.
- Other people should stop doing things that annoy me. Or what? You have no control over what other people do. You can only control how you react to it. What could you do differently to make the situation better? Think about it. You are wasting time and energy getting frustrated over things that you have no control over.
Another way to deal with frustration is to increase your tolerance level by exposing yourself to it more often.
- Exposure – Gradually expose yourself to frustrating situations. Make a list of situations that you recognise as difficult. Then commit yourself to increased exposure. If your frustration is very severe then maybe only do this once a week. If it’s less severe then try to endure it at least once a day. Then increase your tolerance slowly. If you can tolerate your daughter leaving her bedroom in a mess, then try to go a day without tidying it up, then two days, then three, etc.
- Rate It. Put your frustration into context. If you are thinking, “This is dreadful!” ask yourself “How dreadful is it?” Is it as dreadful as being in a car crash? Going through a divorce? Where does it stand in the greater scheme of things? Look closely at the source of your frustration. Compare it to your other life experiences. This will help you put things into perspective.
- Develop Skills. Discover more about what really gets you frustrated and develop skills to deal with it. What are the issues that lie behind your frustration? Do you feel trapped, powerless, bored? Then work at ways of doing things differently in order to eliminate these feelings. Write these feelings down and ask yourself what you can do to feel less trapped, powerless, bored or whatever. Make active choices instead of merely reacting. This will give you a better sense of control over your life and put you back in the driver’s seat.
Control your frustration and anger. Don’t let it control you.
Jane Hipkiss Counselling – Darlington