“Life is not an easy matter…

You cannot live through it without falling into frustration

and cynicism unless you have before you a great idea

which raises you above personal misery,

above weakness,

above all kinds of perfidy and baseness.”

Leon Trotsky

No matter how calm you are most of the time, you will still have those moments when your frustration level seems to go sky high. The challenging aspect of feeling frustrated is the urgency you feel to express those upsetting feelings. But by now you have no doubt learned that you must, at least occasionally, ”keep a lid on” your feelings in certain situations. Because, if you don’t, you know that you will only create more difficulties and drama for yourself.

Suggestions for getting a handle on your frustrations:

1. Breathe. Take some deep breaths. Although this strategy sounds like it might not help, the fact is that breathing techniques really do work. You can use techniques such as one developed by wellness guru, Andrew Weil’s, “4-7-8.” This technique for breathing will help calm you down rather quickly. Here’s how it works:

  • Breathe in through your nose to the count of 4.
  • Then, hold in your breath to the count of 7.
  • Finally, breathe out through your mouth to the count of 8. Focus on blowing out all of the air from your lungs in this step.
  • If you take four 4-7-8 breaths in a row, your frustration will likely dissipate and you’ll feel better.

2. Disengage. If you find yourself in a situation where you can briefly leave the room, excuse yourself to exit. Go to the restroom to splash some cold water on yuor face or take a quick walk in the building or around the parking lot. Physically disengaging from the frustrating event will nearly always help your frustration level to drop to a much more manegeable level.

3. Shut up! Challenge yourself to say nothing. This is probably the toughest suggestion on this list, and the hardest to actually do. Saying nothing means that you won’t compound any developing difficulty in the room, you won’t make the mistake of adding fuel to the fire. Although you have every right to feel the way you do, it is not always wisest to voice them, especially while you’re feeling quite frustrated at the time.

4. Be proactive. Try to anticipate when you might feel frustrated so you can ponder ahead of time how you will handle it if the need arises. Get in touch with your feelings. Know what your emotional triggers and landmines are.

Here’s an example: Perhaps you have a co-worker, who seems to always push your buttons, get you feeling pretty excited and irritated, and drag you around by some kind of emotional nose-ring. He knows how to get you cranked up. And you just happen to be going out to dinner with this person and another friend this evening. Stop and ask yourself, “How can I prepare now to keep my frustration at bay or to handle it if and when Paul triggers me?” Thinking about it ahead of time will help you tap in to your own strategies to keep a handle on your frustration.

5. Separate the essential from the non-negotiable. Learn to distinguish between those things that really matter and the “small stuff.” Does the situation you are in the process of getting so annoyed about really matter in the grand scheme of things? Save your emotional agitation for something that’s truly important to you. When you can work on and establish these differences in your mind, you will be better able to ignore some of the small stuff.

Ask yourself, “Will this really make a difference a year from now? 5 years?” If you decide that it will not, you can usually put it in the category of the “small” stuff, at least for now.

Another way of using this concept is to “pick your battles.” Pick your battles and where you want to expend your time, talents and energy, wisely. Save the battles for the big stuff.

6. Distract yourself. If you get irritated when only 2 or 3 people are present, it’s best to distract yourself with thoughts of things you have to do when you get home or spend some time looking for something in your briefcase or purse. Maybe you notice a lovely painting on the wall in the restaurant where you’re dining.

You can avoid most simple frustrations by either thinking about or doing something to take your mind away from the frustrating topic or situation.

7. Focus on another person in the room. If you’re in a group of people and someone says or does something that frustrates you or irritates you, turn to the person next to you and ask how she’s doing. It’s fairly easy to disengage from the person who’s irritating you the most and talk to someone else who is nearby.

You, and you alone, have the power to curb your frustration. You can take deep breaths, disengage, avoid commenting, anticipate your growing frustration, and learn to tell the difference between important things and the small stuff. You can also distract yourself with something else or even focus on another person in the room.

These methods really work! Try them the next time you’re feeling frustrated. You’ll feel so much better and your frustration will disappear!


photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/59942231/