Using frustration for positive action


When you feel the need to feel frustration, go ahead and be fully frustrated. Then, be done with it and get on with making positive progress. Ralph Marston.

No one likes being driven to the point of frustration but is this emotion really as negative as it feels? Possibly not. Frustration is what causes us to make a change. “If we never experience frustration and disappointment then we are never moved to make changes to transform our lives,” a girl from work told me recently. After a little bit of contemplation over this, I came to the conclusion: she’s right. This week Happiness Weekly looks at how you can use that burning sensation caused by frustration as motivation for positive action.

What is frustration?
Frustration is the feeling of being upset or annoyed as a result of being unable to change or achieve something. The intensity of frustration is caused by the degree of control we have to change things. Once we make a change we can go forward to accomplish the purpose, fulfilling desire or problem we have been withheld from.

According to Cathryn Bond Doyle who wrote Turning frustration into positive action, people can become addicted to feeling frustrated, using it as a way to distract from their real feelings. Frustration can also justify making someone else accountable for our situation and so it feeds denial. “When people are addicted to something, they don’t continue doing whatever to feel good, they do it to stop from feeling something worse. Feelings of frustration can mask guilt about something we’d rather not face and help us legitimize non-action,” she said.

The good news about frustration is that just like any emotion, it is up to us how we control it – we can allow it to hold us back or we can enable it to propel us forward. The choice is ours!

So what steps can we take to turn our frustration into positive action?

1. Reframe the frustration
Sometimes we need to get frustrated enough to make a change – and without that sense of frustration we only find excuses. Frustration is an uncomfortable emotion but it can force us to become accountable. For this reason we should look at frustration as a response to something we don’t like and appreciate it for acting as a messenger to tell you to take action one way or other.

2. Remember your values
Part of living a conscious life involves honouring your core values, and as long as you are doing this you will be able to listen to your irritation with an open mind. Generally frustration is caused because something is taking us away from our personal values. So when you start to feel frustrated, ask yourself what value isn’t being met and how you can make a change so that it is met. Making this change may not be easy, but it’ll be necessary in eliminating your frustration. If you continue your patterns, your frustration will remain – it may be dormant for a while, but it’ll return with vengeance if you ignore it for long enough which can cause you to act irrationally.

3. Analyse the frustration
Take a good look at what is truly bothering you and the options you can take. When you face your truth head on, the energy in the feeling will dissolve which enables you to make a choice with a more empowered mindset. Whatever your frustration is about, but particularly if it’s about your patterns of thinking or behaviour, life in general, work or study, there’s no denying that nothing will change as long as we continue to do the same thing. If you get frustrated enough, your habits will change – allow it to change your direction.

4. If the frustration is about others – refocus!
You can’t control others. Accept that you are only responsible for your feelings and responses – as is everyone else. If someone else’s actions are impacting you in a way that evokes frustration, take your control back by stopping blaming them for the situation or the situation for how you feel. Focus on what you can control and influence and take action in that space – the rest will take care of itself.

5. If the frustration is completely outside our control – question it
Ask yourself what the feeling is really about, especially if you feel it frequently over things outside your control such as a business decision, government or even something spiritual. Dig until you get to the truth and use this truth as a clue to what you could be doing to make a change and which direction you should take. Instead of getting frustrated about why someone isn’t doing something about something, take action yourself. You may feel small in the scheme of things, but with enough passion behind you, I guarantee you’ll make a positive difference to the world.

6. Continue to work towards your goals
Keep your dreams alive and stay on track by continuing to work towards your goals and not letting anything stop you from achieving what you set out to do. Your goals don’t need to be short-term, you could go for something even longer than your lifetime and align it with your deepest passion and greatest love. Frustrations tend to disintegrate faster when we are engaged in our own conscious evolution – in the meantime, be patient. If your frustration leads you to greater change, which weren’t in your initial goals, prepare yourself for a positive transformation!

Always remember you are in control. Don’t be scared of your emotions.

More inspiring posts about frustration:

Turning frustration into positive action by Cathryn Bond Doyle

Positive ways to deal with your frustration by Aurelia Williams

Turning failure, disappointment and frustration into accomplishment by the Ultimate Happiness Secret

Photo: Sarah Webb by Tony Palliser (Sydney, Australia)


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Happiness Weekly encourages readers to proactively work towards a successful, happy and secure existence. Just like happiness – Happiness Weekly is for everyone.

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