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.




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