Why you are feeling frustrated and how to stop it
It’s been a long day, you come home, and Jimmy (your life partner don’t you know) hasn’t done the dishes, AGAIN.
You’ve just aced a difficult project at work, handed it in and all you’ve heard back is the sound of the clock ticking on your non-existent wall clock.
Also emerging as impatience, restlessness or dissatisfaction, frustration can appear at work, in relationships or elsewhere in your personal life.
It’s easy to avoid digging below the surface of frustration to find the source. To instead blame the external circumstance triggering your frustration. To blame Jimmy, or the boss who failed to recognise your hard work on a project.
But blaming others or external circumstances is not going to ‘fix’ your frustration.
What is frustration, really?
Frustration > Anger > Underlying Emotion > Unmet Need
Frustration is a mask over anger.
Anger in turn is masking emotions such as fear, sadness, hurt, embarrassment, shame, vulnerability, weakness, anxiety, and/or helplessness.
These deeper emotions occur because you have a need that isn’t being met.
Most of these masked emotions are very hard for us to admit to ourselves. No-one likes to admit feeling scared, vulnerable or ashamed. We also live in a society where only our best face is presented on social media (apart from that massive over-sharer on social media who you went to primary school with). Society encourages us to put a mask on and pretend everything is ok.
So, the easiest way for you to deal with your frustration is to blame it on someone or something else. This makes you feel temporarily better, because you do not have to admit any weakness or fear on your own behalf. You have a cause, you can seek to change the cause, and you believe that will end your frustration.
Blaming others won’t work
Blaming others is a quick fix. Yes, they may be a contributing factor, but shifting the entire responsibility for your frustration onto them is not going to fulfil your need. Instead it’s likely to be a waste of energy and a negative distraction away from what you really need.
It’s not going to help you work through and release the painful emotion triggered by that underlying need.
So, what can you do?
To stop your frustration, you need to figure out the underlying cause of it. You need to dig deep. Find that underlying emotion and uncover your need that isn’t being met. If you’d like a framework for identifying your needs, check out Tony Robbin’s six human needs framework here.
Are you frustrated at Jimmy because actually you’ve had a crappy day at work and are feeling like a failure? Underlying Need: love and connection.
Are you frustrated by a boss who doesn’t listen, because you are frustrated about your lack of self-confidence and inability to voice your successes? Underlying need: significance.
Once you’ve worked out your emotion and need, you can identify how to meet your need. What support and kind words can you give yourself? What support or behaviour do you need from others? If someone else is involved and you need action from them, you can share your need and why it is important, before asking them for change. This is a far more effective approach than nagging!
To switch from frustration to fulfilment you need to recognise:
What is triggering your frustration
Who/what you are blaming
What underlying emotion you are experiencing (dig deep my friend!)
What need of yours is not being met
How you can meet that need
Used in this way, frustration becomes a useful tool. It enables you to identify where you have an underlying need. This need has triggered an emotion which has ultimately led to your frustration. By meeting your need, you shift the related emotion and your frustration, for good! Let fulfilment begin!
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