“The problem is that frustration is a gateway to both productive and destructive action. If channelled correctly, frustration can help you overcome obstacles and initiate positive change. If channelled incorrectly, it can spur recklessness and resentment.” Isaiah Hankel PH.D.
Once upon a time, the game ‘Frustration!’ invited feelings of excitement and fun. I looked forward to racing around the board and getting all my pieces to the dice in the middle. Unlike this favourite childhood board game of mine, today I treat real frustration very differently.
Lately I’ve found myself annoyed, angry or disappointed with some things at work. Although negative, it seems that I can be somewhat addicted to this cycle of emotions. Some call it a love for drama, or company politics, either way I seem to be drawn to it, or it to me (especially during my recent turmoil of applying for a new position within the company).
In time, as I have become more aware of this tendency, I have realized that the consequences are destructive. There have been moments that I am unable to focus on important tasks because I have allowed myself to wallow in frustration, anger or pity. My productivity diminishes, which leads to increased frustration interwoven with a twinge of revenge; all of which escalates until I mentally and/or emotionally take charge of my psyche to break the cycle.
“Revenge is never a straight line. It’s a forest, And like a forest it’s easy to lose your way… To get lost… To forget where you came in.” Hattori Hanzo (Played by Shin’ichi Chiba in Kill Bill: Vol. 1)
So What Do We Do About It?
Get better, not bitter. Frustration can really be a catalyst for
productive action if channelled in the right way. I’ve learned that transforming frustration into problem solving motivation not only builds happiness, but improves leadership qualities.
Maybe there are some lessons we can learn from my other favourite childhood games to help deal with frustration.
Great Connect 4 players have a pattern or a well thought out strategy to win. This usually involves understanding your opponents strategy and making the first move. With this in place the worst outcome is a tie. So, how can this help us deal with frustration? Understand both opponents, especially yourself. Know what triggers your frustration, and come prepared to win. Make a plan of how you will block some of these early cues that will start the frustration spiral and block them with more positive things. Doing so will create a habit of avoiding frustration in the first place. Charles Duhigg in his book The Power of Habit describes the technical definition of a habit as:
“…the choices that all of us deliberately make at some point, and then stop thinking about but continue doing, often every day.”
Commit in this moment to align your words with your actions and apply positive change to your life. It will be hard and take time, but luckily you know yourself better than anyone! You know your triggers and are therefore qualified to succeed- and you will.
Like many games of this nature it is frustrating when you cannot see what you did to set off the buzzer and flashing red nose. Carefully navigating and understnding any situation always improves patience and control. As Marcus Aurelius said
“You have power over your mind, not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”
The power is within us to change how we allow our frustrations to wear us down. We need to channel our emotions correctly so that the negativity spurs us to get better (not bitter!). Or in the words of Napoleon Hill:
“If you do not conquer self, you will be conquered by self.”
How do you deal with frustration? Any thoughts or advice?