Dealing with frustration

Dealing with frustration

Life is full of frustrations. From the minor irritations of losing your car keys to the major anxieties of continued failure towards a goal,...


Life is full of frustrations. From the minor irritations of losing your car keys to the major anxieties of continued failure towards a goal, frustration is not a pleasant emotion in any magnitude. Because of the unpleasantness of this emotion, people will often avoid anything that might lead to it. Unfortunately, many of the things we truly want to experience such as triumph, joy, victory and purpose require a great deal of frustration. Being able to manage frustrations allow us to remain happy and positive even in trying circumstances.

I recently had a very frustrating experience during most of this past week. My computer had been getting progressively worse in performance and I had decided it was time for a reformat of the hard drive and a fresh start (which, by the way, isn't a bad technique for solving a lot of your personal problems as well). It was at this point I realized that my Windows XP was only a factory install and did not have a disc for reformatting purposes… And so my week-long saga of continued computer frustrations began. I'm normally a fairly technically savvy guy, but I'm hardly a computer expert. Between negotiating with hardware retailers, spontaneous computer crashes, internet failures and being put on hold for an hour while calling customer support, this was a very frustrating problem. On a side note to the people who organize customer service lines, if I am having a problem with your product and you have put me on hold for an extremely long period of time, I am NOT interested in buying more of your products, so save the advertisements.

What I thought would have been a routine procedure turned into a six day period in which all my spare time was devoted to failing to solve my computer issues. Of all the times I couldn't afford to lose computer access this was it. As work on my project has ramped up I have been pushing hard to get the program ready to start beta testing in July. So, during a time when working on schedule was vital, a series of frustrating computer problems bogged down any progress. A completely trivial problem when compared to many major life frustrations, but it really allowed me to refine my own processes to handle future frustrations. My recent experiences have prompted me to explain my process for handling frustration so it doesn't lead to burnout, stress or depression.

What causes frustration?

In order to successfully manage frustration, you need to first understand what causes it. Frustration is simply caused whenever the results you are experiencing do not seem to fit the effort and action you are applying. Frustration will occur whenever your actions are producing less and fewer results than you think they should. This is a very simple fact, but it is an important step to solving frustrating problems.

With my computer issues, my frustration was actually completely unrelated to the computer problems. Frustration isn't an inherent component of computer problems, just my perception of them. I was frustrated because I expected the actions I was taking would solve the problems when they didn't. As long as frustration is a property of your problems and not of your perceptions, it will be impossible to deal with, so start there.


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