Deal with frustration

The first response is an emotional one, which becomes physical energy. If the frustration is very high level I need to process the first response so that I take the next step in a rational and productive way.

What do you do when frustration builds up over time, and remains in your body, or when something happens unexpectedly which suddenly puts your body under immense pressure? If my body is in that state my mind is also stressed: Little wonder the image I have is steam coming out of my ears!

Frustration with myself: I recall a time a few years ago when I worked under the pressure of a tight timeframe. I had worked hard, I had achieved the final document and then the computer closed down. My day’s work was lost. I was furious with myself for not saving the document. The technology was not then available to retrieve it. Another incident that had the same effect was when I created a beautiful patch for a friendship quilt. I was finished, then I decided I would add one more touch… and it went wrong. In my eyes I had spoiled the patch.

My response: Both times I had only myself to blame. I walked off my fury. I power walked, reprimanding myself for my stupidity, until my physical energy was spent and my mental state was calmed. Then I could take a deep breath and face the challenge of rewriting the document, and creatively fix the patch.

Frustration with others: I recall another time when I was having problems with a colleague. Whatever I tried seemingly failed. And then my colleague did something that undermined all the work I had done. For this frustration I needed a good listener, someone I could trust, who would not judge, and would give wise counsel if I asked.

I asked a friend to join me in a walk and rant. I must have sounded desperate because ( I found out afterwards) she left her visitors to be with me. I had never asked her to help before – and she picked up I was at the end of my tether. We walked around a derelict area, I raved and cleared my head by talking out my frustrations and disappointment. This enabled me to get the emotional energy back into proportion and I could come up with better, more calm, responses to what had happened.

A less physically active method is through journalling. I recall being niggled and sat down to write it out. I wrote 28 pages in one sitting! I haven’t referred back to it – and I can’t now recall what were the issues – but it served its purpose at the time. It will be interesting to re-read.

I have been blessed with wonderful support – unconditional support – from family, friends and sister Soroptimists as I undertook leadership roles at club, national, federation and international levels. I needed it as I faced new and challenging moments.

My biggest challenge is chairing a board meeting. The level of challenge reflected more the fear of confrontation, the frustration of the struggle whether I would manage the task, rather than the reality.

I found that being well prepared, being able to laugh at myself, and ask for help were the best tools I could bring to the meeting. We had contentious issues to address at a Soroptimist International Board meeting in 2016. Earlier in the year I met Jean from Scotland who had a “Dammit doll”, and she gave me it for the meeting. I shared the doll with the Directors, we all laughed, and I had it with me in case it were needed. Of course, it never was! But it caused me to smile and relax when we got to what might have been frustrating and difficult agenda items. The memory of the care in which the doll was given to me, and the humour in the doll itself were uplifting.

Dealing positively with frustrations and fears is very personal. What works for me includes a walk and rant, journalling, choosing a confidante, having a tangible reminder that makes me smile and reminding myself I am not alone – all these buoy me when I choose to then act to resolve the reasons for my frustration. What works for you? Please feel free to share your ideas in the comment box – others, including me, may well find a new tactic to try.

Author: Yvonne Simpson

This blog shares my leadership journey and my passion for educating to lead.

5 thoughts on “Deal with frustration”

  1. Thanks for this insightful blog. At my advanced age It is interesting to continue to learn
    and understand how I work!! I think I am a walking and talking processor too although I probably hadn’t recognised what I was doing. đŸ¤—


  2. Love this, thanks Yvonne. My solution to ‘those moments’ is to change perspective for a while. That involves anything from moving out into the garden to jive dancing in the house. Once I’m laughing at my efforts I see everything from a slightly different perspective and all feels betterer. (deliberate spell error te he he)


  3. Thanks Yvonne – I really want a “dammit doll”. I also remember writing a very long letter to myself and, as you, have never re-read it but it worked at the time


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