In my book STUCK, I mention how some people use the word “frustration” in place of the word “anger”. While I believe it’s important to not minimize anger by calling it frustration, I also think that frustration is a separate emotion.
The Feeling of Frustration
Frustration is that unsettled feeling you get when you don’t quite know what’s wrong. You experience an internal dissonance. Frustration is a generic discomfort while anger is more specific: you tend to know why you are angry. That’s not always true with frustration.
When I’m frustrated, I’m uneasy. I might be confused or mildly depressed. I generally don’t know what’s wrong. I’ve noticed that I can be frustrated for a few days. Usually by the third day I catch myself being frustrated and then the bell goes off: Hey, Remy. You are frustrated. How long are you going to stay like this? You know what to do!
Step One: What’s the Expectation?
Frustration is a feeling of being stuck. When I’m in that place I force myself to think through what it is that’s not working. As I point out in STUCK, life has a lot to do with how we deal with our expectations. When you want to achieve something but feel thwarted, that leads to frustration.
For example, I typically feel frustrated when I have a goal that’s not being met. Let’s say a project is delayed. At first I’m in denial. I try to bury my frustration, i.e. forget about it, ignore it, act like I don’t care, or it’s not a big deal, etc. But the frustration tells me that it’s not really buried or that I buried something alive!
If I want to move out of my frustration and resolve the tension, I need to first identify what the expectation is that I’m not achieving. What is the loss I’m experiencing? Once I discover the expectation, I usually know what it will take to break out of emotional lethargy and get back on task.
Step Two: Develop a Plan of Action
Feeling frustrated is really a call to action. My mind is telling me that something is not right. Something needs to be done! I need to come up with a plan of action. Usually it involves going to talk to someone. That’s often where things break down. Some other person isn’t tracking with me. So I sit around hoping the problem will resolve itself. It never does. That’s where the frustration comes in.
Step Three: Take Action
If I want things to change I have to act. It’s really that simple. I go through this cycle all the time. It’s amazing how quickly my frustration clears once I develop my plan and act on it. I often wonder why I took so long to take action.
The bottom line is, if you are stuck in frustration, you are suffering a loss. You are not achieving an expectation. If you want to break out of your frustration and achieve your goal you need to come up with a plan of action and then execute it. When you do, the frustration will leave and you can move on with your life.
Question: What is something in your life that’s frustrating you? What action can you take to get your life back on track? Leave your comment below.
Learn more about frustration, expectations, and loss in STUCK…how to mend and move on from broken relationships