How To Deal With Frustration In A Positive Way

Feeling frustrated is not a sensation that anyone would volunteer to experience.

Sure, it’s a natural human emotion that we’ll all feel at one time or another, but it’s not a pleasant one.

Frustration is something we experience when we’re in a situation that we’re powerless to change or when we are unable to achieve something.

We can also feel milder levels of frustration when we’ve not yet actually been defeated but the going gets tough and failure looks likely.

Somebody who’s frustrated might appear upset, annoyed, or angry, raging against what might seem like an unfair or impossible situation.

Do you remember that feeling when you were a child and an adult just wouldn’t believe that you didn’t pull your brother’s hair or that the dog really did eat your homework, even when you were (for once…) telling the truth, and there was absolutely nothing you could do to change their minds?

The situations you face in your adult life might be very different to these, but the frustration you feel is the same.

Whether it’s your professional or personal life, things are rarely straightforward, and we all come up against bumps in the road that make the journey difficult.

If there’s one thing that’s for sure, however, it’s that spending time feeling frustrated is time wasted.

After all, you’re worrying about something that you’re powerless to change, or perceive yourself to be powerless to change, and no amount of crying or raging is going to make a difference to that.

The 2 Types Of Frustration

There are two different types of frustration.

The first is internal. As the name might suggest, internal frustration comes from within.

It’s the result of challenges you might face with meeting the goals you’ve set yourself, fulfilling your desires, or even as a result of weak points that you perceive yourself to have, like anxiety in social situations or a phobia of something.

You might even experience internal frustration if your heart has various desires that don’t quite fit with one another, and you just can’t decide which to prioritize.

There is also external frustration. This is the kind of frustration you feel if you’re driving along a road and suddenly find it blocked.

But it is also what you experience when you’re facing a difficult task or are forced to wait around for something to happen.

Essentially, external frustration is caused by circumstances that are beyond your control but not related to the inner workings of your mind.

Of course, the two often go hand in hand, if you come up against an external factor that you can’t overcome due to some kind of internal limitation you perceive yourself to have.

7 Ways To Deal With Frustration

We’re all going to feel frustrated at one point or another, and we’re bound to feel angry or upset initially, but if you look at it in the right way, you can put a positive spin on many frustrating situations.

1. Take a minute to breathe.

When you can feel yourself getting frustrated with a situation, take a moment to sit back and breathe before you do anything else.

Don’t react immediately, but give yourself a chance to calm down so that you’re more able to make a rational decision about how best to move forwards.

You’ve probably heard this advice a million times, but don’t dismiss it. A few deep breaths can make a world of difference.

2. Talk about it.

Keeping your feelings bottled is not going to help. Find a sympathetic ear and express them.

Having to put your frustrations into words will help you understand what’s going on inside your head.

There are two kinds of people you can talk to, and both kinds will be able to give you a very different insight.

Someone who has no connection with, and little knowledge of, the situation can be great as they can look at the picture you paint more subjectively and come up with a fresh angle on it which might never have occurred to you.

On the flip side, somebody who knows exactly what’s going on and is very knowledgeable about whatever it is you’re up against can also be good to talk to, as they’ll understand the intricacies and may have knowledge or experience that can be of use to you. 

If in doubt, try speaking to someone from each category.

If you really don’t feel comfortable talking about it with anyone, try writing it down instead, so you are at least putting how you feel into words.

3. Get curious about it.

When those feelings of frustration arise, ask yourself why this particular situation has got you feeling the way it has.

Try to trace the cause of the frustration back to its root, and you might be surprised by what you discover.

Be honest with yourself about whether the way you’re approaching it really is the best way.

4. Release it.

Sometimes frustration just has to be let out.

Find somewhere secluded and scream and shout to your heart’s content. Or exercise until you think your heart might burst. Release all that pent-up energy.

If you want to, cry. You’ll feel much better afterwards, I can promise you that.

Once you’ve really vented all your feelings, you’ll be better able to move on.

5. Change your perspective on it.

You can put a different spin on pretty much anything in this life if you look at it from a different angle.

It’s easier said than done, but you can decide to view your frustrating situation as a chance to grow and learn, or a challenge to be relished.

Identify what’s gone right as well as what’s gone wrong and focus on the good bits, viewing the mistakes as merely essential and useful lessons you had to learn along the way.

6. Focus on the big picture.

What was the original goal that you had in mind when you set out on the journey that led you to this roadblock, or dead end?

Refocus your energies on getting there in a different way, rather than continuing to bang your head against a brick wall.

Ask yourself what you need to happen differently so that you reach that goal this time, and make a new plan to get yourself there.

Or, if it wasn’t a missed goal that led to your frustration, but a situation that didn’t go as you hoped, ask whether it will really matter in 1 hour, 1 day, 1 week, or 1 month.

Chances are, at some point soon, you’ll look back and wonder why you got so worked up over it in the first place.

7. Take action.

If there’s one thing that’s for sure, there’s absolutely no sense procrastinating, as it will only make you feel worse.

Once you’ve calmed down and got a rational head on your shoulders, make sure you take the first step on the new path you’ve planned out sooner rather than later so that you don’t stagnate.

The more you put it off, the more daunting it will seem.

Spending your time worrying is essentially another form of procrastination. You can’t take any steps forward whilst you’re worrying about the steps you’ve taken that have got you to that point.

There’s an old Irish proverb that goes “You’ll never plow a field by turning it over in your mind,” and never a truer word was spoken.

Take the lessons you’ve learned and move forwards a wiser person.

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About Author

Katie is a writer and translator with a focus on travel, self-care and sustainability. She's based between a cave house in Granada, Spain, and the coast of beautiful Cornwall, England. She spends her free time hiking, exploring, eating vegan tapas and volunteering for a local dog shelter.