How do you deal with your frustrations?


You can’t always, as the song suggests, get what you want.* You might even find that, in a very real sense, you get what you need. How do you deal with frustration?

Frustration is an inevitable part of all our lives, probably to a greater extent than most of us would be comfortable admitting.

My ever-handy dictionary defines frustration thus:

“The feeling of being upset or annoyed, especially because of the inability to change or achieve something.”

Frustration can vary in scale, from the unreliability of your silly commuter trains making life a misery, or the torture of watching the US presidency slip through your fingers.** Frustration is something with which you have to deal.

I want to look at three perspectives on how to deal with frustration. And I want to hear yours.
So, gentle reader: How do you deal with frustration?

It’s not all about mastering the pose


This month, I’m doing my best to keep up with and get through Adriene Mischler’s Yoga Revolution, a 31-day yoga video series for January 2017. Now, my yoga game is not strong. But since last March I have attempted to practise yoga regularly. I feel so much better as a result.

One thing I love about yoga is that even if you were to practise the exact same poses every day, your experience of them would always be different. How you breathe, how you feel that day, where you are – all and none of these things can have a bearing.

But even after 10 months of yoga, it had never occurred to me that yoga could also be about exploring frustration. And that this is not necesssarily a bad thing.

In day 15′s video (entitled Fearless Practice), Adriene says something so simple yet so profound it fair took my breath away:

“Sometimes it’s not all about mastering the pose, right. In fact, can I say ‘All the time…’? It’s about how you deal with your frustrations. How do you celebrate the joyful feelings? How do you celebrate the not so joyful feelings?”

Some yoga poses are deliberately discomforting, or outright tiring, annoying or boring. From a certain point of view.

I am still truly amazed that I managed to push through the discomfort, doubt and frustration and – for the most fleeting fraction of a split-second – do the crow pose (see screengrab above for Adriene’s version) during the day 15 video. It was inelegant. I am sure my attempt would make a true yogi wince. But is it about mastering the pose?

How you choose to deal with frustration makes all the difference. Bring openness.

Reframing the thought

These past few weeks, I’ve been exploring the idea of “deliberate optimism” (a phrase I came upon by chance via a book I read over Christmas). As I wrote last week:

“Deliberate optimism is positive, but clear-eyed. Deliberate optimism is about working with what is.”

We can use deliberate optimism to work with and work through frustration.

For me, openness and serendipity are parts of deliberate optimism. Via a lovely moment of social media serendipity this week (in which the lovely Steve Browne was involved), I bumped into transformational life coach Kat Hoyer, in a chat about deliberate optimism.

In the spirit of deliberate optimism, openness to exploration and social media-enabled collaboration, I asked Kat if she’d fancy penning a few words on the theme that’s so occupied my thoughts this week: how to deal with frustration.

Kat graciously obliged. I love Kat’s advice that dealing with frustration is a matter of reframing the thought:

“Many times we don’t have the luxury of giving physical or proverbial space between ourselves and the situation. When this happens, I encourage my clients to reframe their thinking. If we can look at the situation as neutral by not applying any meaning to it yet, we can identify the thought about the situation that is frustrating us. In reframing the thought, we can take the same situation and apply a new more pleasant thought about it to get past the frustration. Many times simple reframing is all that is needed to push through the frustration so we don’t get stuck.”

Forcing yourself to take a different perspective on frustration can help you to push through it.

It will be uncomfortable

A further moment of social media serendipity. Yesterday my great friend Sarah Miller – Australia’s warmest and wittiest Twitterer and blogger, to my mind – shared the following words via Instagram.****

“I’m grateful for wonderful advice I received around leaning into addressing racism & its effects as a HR person. The three truths are:

“1. You won’t know the answers
“2. You will get it wrong
“3. It will be uncomfortable

“By accepting these truths, I can relax, know it’s going to be all that, AND still have a crack at it.”

These words of advice are all too timely, given the increasingly divided state of the world.

They are also eternally and universally true for all of us, in any activity that is unfamiliar and challenging. We must accept that we won’t know the answers, that we will get it wrong, and that it will be uncomfortable. But we must have a crack at it.

Frustration, difficulty or unobtainability, can all be approached with deliberate optimism, and transformed.

Gentle reader: How do you deal with frustration? I’d love to know – please get in touch and have your say.


* The song in question being, of course, this one:

** As was the case for Selina Myers in the brilliant satirical series Veep (a stunning sequence from the – at the time of writing – last broadcast episode, Inauguration, provides the image at the top of this page.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus is extraordinary throughout Veep. Her character Selina Myers’ rare moment of brooding, frustrated silence captured in the image above is one of Louis-Dreyfus’ greatest moments of acting in a series of nothing but stratospheric peaks. Ms Myers is of course not the only person to know the frustration of the presidency slipping by right now. Regard the following tweet from @girlhoodposts:


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