by Kevin Stacey

© 2002  TrainRight, Inc.

"Life is not the way it’s supposed to be, it is the way it is. The way you cope with it is what makes the difference." -Virginia Satir

Virginia Satir reminds us that there are always two things in life: the way you think it ought to be, and the way that it is. Frustration is what happens when there is an incongruence between our expectations and reality.

The biggest thing we do to perpetuate our own frustration is fight the current reality and insist that things should be different from the way they are right now. You’ll notice you’re doing this when you find yourself saying the words, "I can’t believe," as in, "I can’t believe this, I can’t believe this place, I can’t believe him, I can’t believe her. This is just unbelievable!" This mindset keeps regurgitating the same junk over and over again in your head and keeps you stuck in the problem rather than focused on the solution.

What can you do?

  • Face the situation head on and call it what it is. Realize that what you resist persists. When you deny it or fight it you’re not taking responsibility for it. If you can’t give yourself a reality check, ask a trusted friend. Yes, life can be difficult and things happen to us. Remind yourself that the most important thing is how you respond to life’s events and that you are always 100% responsible for and totally in control of your response.
  • Ask yourself, "Is there anything I can do about this?" If the answer is no, then why get all frustrated over it? What does it cost you when you allow it to frustrate you?
  • If the answer is yes, then why get all frustrated over it? Why not just do something and ask yourself, "What is the next BEST thing that I can do?" There is almost always something that you can do to make the situation better or to help yourself cope. This could include:
  • Writing things out. Writing helps you to organize your thoughts and gain clarity either on what action needs to be taken or what you need to stop doing that is making it worse.
  • Making a phone call to vent, ask for advice, seek help or just to be heard.
  • Writing someone a letter that you either intend or don’t intend to send.
  • Exercising or doing something physical to release tension from your body. Many times, hitting a punching bag for a few minutes has helped me move past my frustration.

Frustration is an epidemic. As a society, we seem to be easily bothered. However, we don’t know when our last day on this journey we call life is going to be. Think about it. What percentage of people do you think, on the morning of their last day of their life, know it’s going to be their last day? So, is it really worth it? Perhaps the best antidote for frustration is one of my favorite sayings, "I finally got a grip when I learned to let go."

About the Author

Kevin Stacey helps companies and professionals achieve maximum productivity and effectiveness through stress management and time management training.  He is available to speak on these topics.  For more information visit or call 1-800-603-7168.

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