Finding the Opportunity in Frustration

Today, let’s talk about frustration – a feeling all of us experience from time to time – and how to overcome it.

One of the roadblocks on the path to success is frustration. Everyone feels it from time to time. It’s kind of like anxiety with a little anger thrown in, isn’t it? You feel like a tiger in a cage, pacing back and forth, filled with tension and negative energy but accomplishing nothing. And that tension and negative energy represent both the danger and the opportunity in frustration.

The danger is the tension and the negativity, because negativity blocks all the positive feelings you need in order to keep going and solve the problems at hand – and you just can’t be very creative in a tension-filled environment. The opportunity in frustration is the energy, because it is the energy you want in order to overcome whatever obstacle you’re facing. As soon as you get the negative thinking under control, harnessing the energy is easy. “Ah-ha,” you may be saying, “there’s the catch. If I could do that, I wouldn’t be frustrated.” Well, you can do it and it comes from changing your internal perspective on the situation.

At the very core of frustration is our attitude toward the situation at hand. Change the attitude and you change your perspective. It’s like looking at a portrait or landscape, perhaps on a wall in a museum or gallery, and shifting your physical position. That different angle gives you a different perspective, and you see things in the painting that you didn’t see before. Changing your “mental position” is just as simple. You are shifting from a fixed to more of a growth mindset, by giving yourself the opportunity to see things from a different perspective.

We teach people how to do it all the time. Cognitive psychologists teach people to do it, too. It’s simply a question of knowing how. If you’d like to learn how, pick up a copy of Dr. Martin Seligman’s book, “Learned Optimism.” It will give you a simple technique you can use to minimize negative thoughts and substitute positive ones. It’s quite simple to master and it will make a big difference in your frustration level and the time and energy you spend spinning your wheels.