Self Expression: Using Frustration to Movitate Ourselves



Grrrrr . . .  $@*%&$*@$ . . .  Ackkkkkkkk

Recognize these words? We usually see these in comic strips as signs of frustration and resignation over a situation the character can’t quite overcome at the moment.  S/he assesses the nature of the conflict, and exclaims – (pick any expletive deletive or swear word).

We know the feeling – and we often use more colourful metaphors (these swear words) than the above to verbally express our upsets.  My personal favourites are ‘crap’ and ‘dang’.  Don’t you just hate that?  We are humming along in life and things seem to be going the way we think we always like to have it go, then BAM! – life happens to us again.

Of course, since we know conflict is the one constant in life, we completely ignore this fact and start getting all FRUSTRATED, and uppity, and sweaty, and angry, and lonely, and fearful, and much more; just because all of a sudden, life is occurring as it’s supposed to happen. We know that – right?


And since we know how life occurs, all we have to do is change the way we see frustration.

We can have frustration become an absolutely freeing and exciting feeling
to be enjoyed, molded, and constantly sought after.

I know, I know, you think I’ve gone off my meds, right?  Look at the possibility.  Can it actually be true – can it be possible?  Well, try it out.


Here’s an example of how I used frustration as a positive in my life:

I was recently going to college.  I wanted to get a credential so that I can have the opportunity to change my life so that I can make a difference in my little corner of the world.  Since I was not already making the difference I wanted to create, I understood there was some information I needed to know that I had yet to learn.

     Stay with me here.

Given that I was in classes and taking in new information that I never knew before, I  was really excited that I was working towards my dreams and goals.  In other words, I was getting exactly what I was seeking.  Yet, here is where I smacked myself in the side of the head (like most of us do) and got myself all frustrated. 

Then it dawned on me – “heck, I am there to learn something new and yet I get frustrated for learning something new”, I said to the voice in my head (you know – the Meaning Making Machine).

“Here I was, given an assignment to do things I had never done before.  So my heart begins to pound a little faster.  When my heart pounds like that, my adrenalin begins to flow a little more.”  Because my bodily functions are doing something that I don’t feel under normal circumstances, I notice the feelings and I begin to think something is WRONG.  (Is it only me that does that?)


Here’s where my brain plays a game with me and
has a tendency to mess me up by
connecting dots that have nothing to do with each other.


Because I was just given the assignment, my brain looked at the feeling I was having and the assignment I was given and said to me: “Kevin, you are feeling this way and you got the assignment; therefore, the assignment makes you feel this way.

“Kevin, you better start getting scared
because your heart and adrenaline rush is usually a sign of fear

Sooooooo, I get frustrated about getting an assignment.

At this point, confusion takes hold because I am not sure what I am supposed to be afraid of, yet I comply with my brain’s request because, after all, it is MY brain.

Then my brain (and all it’s notorious wisdom) then makes up conflicts, erects walls, and generally creates roadblocks long enough to keep me messed up until the moment I print off the final copy to be submitted – and all for nothing.


Now let’s consider the possibility that I decide to change the meaning of the bodily functions I experience as they relate to the experiences of each moment I get frustrated.  (Did that come out right?)  Put another way, how about I say to myself (my brain’s Meaning Making Machine) instead:

“Kevin, just because your heart and adrenaline is doing their thing, it does not mean it has anything to do with the assignment.  Kevin, you can change that STORY!  You can change the meaning of both – the body feelings AND the frustration itself.”


Now Consider this:

Given this ability that we all possess, if we are frustrated in what we are tying to achieve, then wouldn’t frustration actually be great feeling to experience? It is possible to change the meaning of frustration to mean we are:

  • learning something new,

  • growing as a person, and

  • moving towards realizing our goals and dreams?


So, let’s look at it logically and rationally:

Given that I was actually learning, then I was actually growing as an individual because I was attaining more knowledge and awareness, and that knowledge is actually helps me achieve my goals and dreams.

So what’s so bad about that?  Right?

And here’s the best part – once I realize the frustration I am experiencing is actually a feeling to expect and therefore enjoy, I no longer ‘feel frustrated’.  I actually ‘feel energized’ and ready to take on the challenge.  Weird, huh?


So, imagine the possibility of having frustration
be our greatest ally in life


We can always play this awareness game with ourselves to gauge the effectiveness of our new-found freedom with frustration.  Try out this changed scenario with your next effort.  Make sure you consider all of the above when you try this out; and take note of the final possibility:

You decide you want to do something that makes you feel good.  You look into it, try it out, and realize that everything is going well – but you are bored and not challenged (otherwise known as ‘not getting frustrated’).


Now if you are ever in that situation and you don’t get frustrated – run away!

Get into something else that makes you think about life, the world, your self, your relationships, your actions … anything that is going to add value to your life.



Fear: Wise Leadership


Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.


Ralph Waldo Emerson






Gloria’s Albatross


She cried uncontrollably.

From all her facial orifices leaked the pain of grief, sorrow, and guilt of a broken young woman who messed up big time … again.

It was staring at her right in her face for her to see as plain as day.  She had fallen again, and this time her whole world was aware of just how messy an addiction to crack cocaine can be.

The worst part of it all is that this problem stems from a problem that stems from a problem that is caused by original heinous acts.

Gloria is a beautiful woman.  Not in the sense of outer beauty (although there was a time when she was a looker without having to try!), but her beauty is in her inner qualities of compassion, empathy, and outspokenness.

In her mid to late 20’s, she’s not one of those phonies (at least when she’s not using) who is nice to your face but talks about you to others when you’re not around.   No, Gloria is a straight shooter who “calls ‘em as she sees ‘em” and always takes the moral high road every time.

* * *

When life goes well for Gloria, she is a bright light in any circle.  For the most part, she is an inherent leader and exercises the role efficiently.   That’s probably because she actually likes people.

Intuitively, she knows how to get help for herself; and when motivated during a profound moment, she tends to act on it.  Bless her heart, because she is a take-charge person; and if I ever needed someone in an emergency, Gloria would be the person I would want to have around.

Unfortunately, for far too long, there has been this problem with crack.

Actually, the crack problem has her.

Based on her wretched past experiences of life, Gloria is a prime candidate to be sucked into the vacuum of the worst drug ever invented.

She is a wounded soul living under the weight from unspoken and unresolved grief because, regardless of where she looks around in her world, she is reminded daily of the knowledge of the past transgressions against her.  Worst of all, the profound powerlessness she feels prevents her from seriously considering even beginning the journey towards personal resolution and inner peace.

There is a relentless and enduring amount of pain she has not yet learned to tolerate every day that begs for her to be heard, acknowledged, and believed.

* * *

Gloria is not always sure what makes her feel the greatest.  The anticipation moments before that feeling of euphoria and safety, or the out-of-body calm afterwards that drives her to the next hit … and the next hit … and so on.

What makes this whole world of crack worse is that new benchmarks have been set for the social misery it brings with it.   It is cheap and made affordable to even those living in poverty.   It is easily available if you are looking for it; and easier to ‘come on, just try it out once’ (it only take 1 to 2 hits to get hooked); and the worst of all – it sets new lows for ‘bottoming out’.

For crack, the victims will do ‘almost a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g – more risk-taking than all other drugs, for their next big hit.

Sadly, this is where Gloria always ends up.  Yet, when the time comes to pick herself up and start putting the pieces back together once again, the realizations in her sobriety from crack literally wrenches … and tears … and presses … and tightens her chest and heart until it overwhelms her belief in herself.

Her experiences remind her that it is not the crack that is the problem – that is just the effect; rather, it is in the original cause of everything in the first place that have since cause innumerable effects like the ripples of a stone thrown in still water.



Risk At Dawn

In the warm urban confines

of serenity’s sultry miracles,

I bathe in nature’s passion.


Accepting the teasing welcome

with a child’s awe of discovery,

I am given freedom …


And I play.



(c) 2004

The Voice In My Head

There’s this other voice in my head,
You know the one I mean.
The one that’s always …
            chattering, describing, deciding, commenting, and controlling.
            The one that never … shuts … up!
It’s often not a kindly voice,
Best left to it’s own devices.
To run rampant decisions …
            “I hate this place”, “my shirt’s too tight”, “look at her hair”.
            A maker of ideas all made up!
When I’m trying to have this conversation,
This voice is not a friend to me.

            “I did it again, stupid”, I’m getting fat”, toooo old now”.
I try to notice the voice
to harness its ignorance,
            and it always comes back.
I try to ignore the voice
to give it no validity,
            and it always whispers back.
I try to argue with the voice
to break the oppression,
            and it always hits back.
I try, I try, I try … then cry.
The voice in my head never gives up.
It pretends to be nice to me.
Rationalizing, psychologizing, euthanizing and fantasizing,
A congratulations is due up
Cheering on negativity.
What has the voice in your head said to you lately?

(originally written Aug 2009)

Holding Back

Every time I dare to dream,
I test myself
To see if it’s all true;
Always running
Not to hurt myself
From fear of actions dared.
In the middle of a dream,
I pinch myself
To find a hidden clue;
No need for stopping
To curse myself
My comfort once again is spared.

(orginally written June 2011)

Everybody’s Nobody


Poring over a nothing morning
     loitering in the rain,
Puffing stale smokes
     and drinking cold joe
From which he can’t abstain.
A falling sun among the clouds
Long shadows hides his disease,
Black and white and gray his thoughts
     as he crouches to his knees.
Casual glances among many shoes
Clap-scuffing splashes the rain,
Looking up he tries,
     instead he cries
Never understanding others’ disdain.


(originally written Aug 2011)