Have you been feeling frustrated lately? See if this sounds familiar:
Things aren’t going according to your plans and you don’t like it. Your head feels like it is going to explode. Your shoulders are tight and your belly is clenched. You want to act out in a not very nice way, and it doesn’t matter towards whom. Even the slightest things irritate you tremendously. It seems like this will never end. You want to fight what is going on and set things right, and yet you can’t. The cycle continues again and again and you feel angrier each time.
I felt this way the other day. I am in physical therapy due to a skiing injury. After 2 months, I had made progress but was not where I wanted be – back to normal activities and pain free. I felt angry and defeated and heard my inner voice saying, “I am so frustrated!”
In that moment of labeling what I was feeling, I was able to slow things down and examine what was going on. I noticed the body sensations, emotions and thoughts that were present. Then I became curious about what frustration really is and how I experience it. I realized that I was fighting something that was already here and that I couldn’t change. The fact was that my body was not yet healed and my struggle wasn’t helping.
Frustration didn’t make it go away or get better, in fact I suffered more. I was pouring my precious energy into a futile battle. I couldn’t will or force my body to heal any faster. Being angry and upset could make it go slower. Once I understood this, I was freed up to do something different, to relate to this situation in a different way.
First, I accepted that this is how things were in that moment. Giving up the struggle made me feel better instantly. Then, I practiced gratitude; that I had done this in winter and not summer, that I have a great physical therapist and the time to do all the exercises to heal, that I have helpful friends to support me at this time. I rededicated myself to doing what I could do to get better (rest, eat well, focus on positive emotions) and being patient with my body. In short, I used my energy on those things I could affect, which took energy away from those things I couldn’t change.
So if you are feeling frustrated with some aspect of your life, you might take a few moments to sort out what you can and cannot change. Then, you can use your time and energy to take skillful action to make things better, rather than wasting it in an exercise in futility. You may find that you end up feeling more peaceful and empowered like I did.