Dealing with Frustration

Frustration sucks. It can ruin your day, your relationships, and even your health. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to avoid. It’s inevitability makes frustration natural: a price we pay to be human.

That price comes in many forms:

  • This traffic isn’t moving.
  • My boss is making me work late.
  • This computer is so damn slow.

Why do things have to be so difficult? It’s not my fault but why do I feel like I’m being punished?

Over the past year I’ve come to figure out that, for most of my life, I had it all wrong...



Reality can suck if we want it to be different
— Leo Babauta

Frustration is a rejection of how things are; a reaction to not getting what you want. It sounds childish because it is. Bad things don’t happen to you because everyone and everything has it out for you. Sometimes bad things just happen because that’s the way the cookie crumbles.

To better explain this I want to break down a classic example of frustration:


How other people act

The frustration: Whether it’s your family, friend, or co-worker, people will do or say something that bothers you.

The reality: People have different values and beliefs that shape the way they live. The actions they take and the words they speak are determined by these values and beliefs.

The root of the frustration: The problem is never the other person. They are just being who they are. The problem is how you react to them.

The bottom line: People are able to act however they want, it’s their life, not yours. If you react by getting frustrated, it’s because they aren’t acting how you want them to.

From immovable traffic to the behavior of world leaders, being frustrated won’t change the reality of the situation. All it will do is cause you stress, consume valuable time, and, heck, it may even ruin a relationship or two.

Frustration is unavoidable, so instead of trying to find ways to never feel frustrated again, I found a way to minimize it.

  1. Be self-aware when I feel frustrated.
  2. Question why I feel frustrated. Recognize that my frustration is the result of not getting what I want.
  3. Accept that it’s my problem. Not the other person or the situation.
  4. Fix my own damn problem because it’s my responsibility not someone else's. In most cases, realizing that I’m acting selfishly by wanting the situation to be more favorable towards me is enough to make me calm down. Slowly but surely, the frustration goes away.

It’s a simple, but very difficult process. It takes practice, humility, and strength. But the payoff is worth it. Being less frustrated has made me less stressed, which probably means I’ll live longer if I keep this up.

Living longer is pretty cool.