While learning about frustration, I thought about a dear friend from childhood, Francisco. As a kid he was always anxious and managed to get frustrated very easy. Now as adults we always get into philosophical discussions about the mind, friendship, relationships and so on. I like to listen to his thoughts because he has managed to turn around his emotional life. He has become a yogi and has a blog about how to handle panic attacks “Ataques de Panico." His blog teaches methods or approaches on how to minimize them.
So who would be better to write an essay about frustration? Francisco agreed to be a guest blogger on my page.
FRUSTRATION by Francisco Perez
A few days ago I read a tweet that said that “… we are always thinking about the future but, once the future is here, it is never the same as we had imagined …”. This short message made me ponder about the anxiety we feel when we are focused on the future and, what is even more serious, about the feelings invading us if the future is not as we had planned or as we had wished. This feeling, a mixture of anger and disappointment, is known as frustration.
During my entire life I have dealt with frustration. If at a given time things do not happen exactly as expected when I begin a project or when I face a new challenge – whether personal or professional – that feeling of frustration overcomes me for a few instants. A few years ago I used to be totally paralyzed. Now, however, I have learned from my own and from other people’s experiences that nothing that is worthwhile will ever be simple. I have discovered that, possibly, there is a reason for things not to happen as desired; hence, it will be necessary to become aware of the situation, to take a deep breath, and to start all over again, perhaps with a different approach and in different circumstances.
One of the most memorable teachings about how to handle those feelings arrived at me unexpectedly. I had taken an airplane to return home after an unforgettable experience following several days of meditation in the New Mexico desert during the summer solstice. Before take-off, the flight attendant asked me if I would change seats so that an elderly couple could travel together. I agreed, and moved to my new seat in the aircraft. To my great surprise, the person sitting next to me was Ivan Vallejo, a famous Ecuadorian mountain climber who has climbed Everest without oxygen and other fourteen mountains more than 8,000 meters high. I have always been a great Vallejo admirer who is an adventurer, a fighter and a wise mountaineer.
We talked for a long time. He told me that he had just climbed a mountain in Alaska. I told him that I was coming from a Tantra session in New Mexico. He told me some of his sorrows, and I told him some of mine. At a given point I mentioned that it was quite difficult for me to deal with the feeling of frustration that during the past weeks was hanging over me. He looked at me silently for a few seconds and said: “Frustration has always been the karma with which I have had to struggle since I was a young boy, and life is still putting it in front of me on what I love the most, that is, mountain climbing.” He took a deep breath and added: “Some times it takes years to understand that there was a reason in what seemed to be a tragedy, in what obstructed your progress.” He spoke about his experience in the mountains, his frustration when being just 200 meters from reaching the summit he had to give up because weather conditions were not favorable - all this after 21 days climbing and 10 months preparing for it. “And there is nothing you can do except to breathe deeply, to accept, not to try to understand at that precise moment, and simply to walk back. After some time perhaps you may try again, perhaps in different conditions.”
Ivan’s words described his ascent to the mountains but, at the same time, his experience in our own path in life. It was an unexpected lesson on self control, on acceptance to overcome frustration, and on the tenacity to start all over again.
Like Francisco and Ivan, we all have experienced situations in which we become frustrated. Other than being able to stay calm and relaxed, we allow our tension and emotions to rise. We lose control and become helpless in doing anything.
Frustration exists when our needs are not met and we cannot find a solution!
Frustration exists when we are confronted with opposition!
Frustration is a normal feeling but the important part is how we manage it!
If you feel lost in dealing with frustration and you are trying to get a grip, Dr. Judith Orloff provides 4 tips for converting the energy of our frustration into positive actions.
Tip #1. Focus on a specific issue—don't escalate or mount a personal attack. For instance, "I feel frustrated when you promise to do something but there is no follow-through." No resorting to threats or insults. In an even, non-blaming tone, lead with how the behavior makes you feel rather than how you think the other person is wrong.
Tip #2. Listen non-defensively without reacting or interrupting. It's a sign of respect to hear a person's point of view, even if you disagree. Avoid an aggressive tone or body language. Try not to squirm with discomfort or to judge.
Tip #3. Intuit the feelings behind the words. When you can appreciate someone's motivation, it's easier to be patient. Try to sense if this person is frightened, insecure, up against a negative part of themselves they've never confronted. If so, realize this can be painful. See what change they're open to.
Tip #4. Respond with clarity and compassion. This attitude takes others off the defensive so they're more comfortable admitting their part in causing frustration. Describe everything in terms of remedies to a specific task, rather then generalizing. State your needs. For instance, "I'd really appreciate you not shouting at me even if I disappoint you." If the person is willing to try, show how pleased you are. Validate their efforts: "Thanks for not yelling at me. I really value your understanding." See if the behavior improves. If not, you may have to minimize contact and/or expectations.
Well..., I have a lot to learn.
Most important, I have to make a conscious effort to follow these 4 suggestions to be able to manage my frustration.
This is an excerpt from one of my posts The Power of Our Mind: “to take control of our lives, first we need to understand who we are and what we want to become. Understanding our habits and know that we can alter them. For that, our conscious mind has to be aware of what needs to be altered, and we have to make a conscious effort of wanting to adjust.”