3 1/2 Tips to ease frustration


To protect the guilty, I'll avoid going into too specific details, but someone made me really angry...

Not "lose-my-temper-explode-and-go-to-jail" angry, but just plain-everyday angry; more of a deep frustration.

This is where a carefully-crafted scathing text or email comes in handy. I've already written it out in my head, and it's beautiful.

But it will never get sent.

Why? Because I've learned I can be pretty good at being a jerk, and just because I'm "in the right" doesn't make it right to say whatever I want.

Just because I'm "in the right" doesn't make it right to say whatever I want.

The truth is it's not JUST this one person that has me feeling like punching through the nearest wall. It's him plus a dozen other things from the loudness of my kids to the two tickets I got last week: one for running a red light and one for overtime parking...

I've been feeling my internal temperature steadily rising, and it's evident by the growing impatience I'm feeling; by the way I can't wait to get off the phone; by the way I noticed everything that went wrong at work Sunday; by the way I just want to take a really long nap and escape.

Someone told me I need a vacation, and that's cool because later today we're actually heading to the northwest for exactly that: a vacation. It's gonna be awesome, but it's not a cure for the root of what I'm feeling; otherwise, I'd just grit my teeth through life, waiting on the next vacation.

A vacation is not a cure for stress. Otherwise, I'd just grit my teeth through life, waiting on the next vacation.

So what do I do with this anger, this frustration that is grating on my nerves like the classic "nails on a chalkboard"?

I want to share with you three simple tips to ease frustration.

They've helped me, and since I'm not much different than you, they can help you too.

Here's the first tip to curtail your anger:

1.  Shut up.

Just close your mouth. Stop feeding the monster. This is really where you need to take the proverbial advice to "say nothing at all" if you have nothing nice to say.

Here's why: words are containers of emotion - in this case anger and frustration - and if you don't watch out they'll get you shook up like a soda can ready to explode.

Think about the last argument you had. What was the fuel? Words, right? What was used to write the text, email, or Facebook post that most recently annoyed you? Words.

When I get angry, I read Proverbs 19:11, "The discretion (prudence) of a man defers his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression."

Just because you have a right to be angry doesn't mean you HAVE to be. You can choose to let it go, and I have personally found that biting my tongue is a very effective first response.

Just because you have a right to be angry doesn't mean you HAVE to be.

The next action I take to ease frustration depends on just how angry I am. If I'm just mildly frustrated, it's not necessary, but after a certain point, it's vital. Since it depends on the situation, we'll call it "Tip 2a" to ease frustration.

2a.  Get positively distracted.

You gotta be careful here because mint chocolate chip ice cream can sometimes seem like a great positive distraction and so can 4 hours of binge-watching Netflix.

The key is to distract yourself with something that's good for you in small AND large doses. (Yeah, I know I just took beer off the table. Sorry...)

This shouldn't be complicated. It can be something like taking a walk down your street; doing some yard work; playing loud music while dancing like no one is watching (I like to do this with my kids); or simply falling asleep to a good book. I'm reading several really good ones right now, and that's what I did recently to combat my frustration. I fell asleep to a good book.

Taking the time to positively distract yourself isn't always an option, and it's not always necessary - you'll need to be the judge of that.

An alternative to positive distraction is to inject a little structure into the situation by organizing your thoughts.

That's our second part of tip #2:

2b.  Get organized.

I've found this to be of particular help when part of my frustration is feeling overwhelmed and out of control.

What I do is just take a few minutes to write down everything that's on my mind: everything that's weighing me down.

The last time I made this list, I had everything from emails I needed to write to feeling bad about not visiting my grandmother enough.

There were probably 10 or so items on my list, and it was relieving just to get them on paper. I didn't stop there, though; next to each item, I wrote an action statement describing what I needed to DO to feel better about each particular thought.

"Write the email!"
"Call Grandmother."

Whether you get distracted or get organized, the end result is the same:  calmer emotions.

Once the initial emotion has subsided, thanks in part to you starving it with silence and either distracting your mind with positive, life-giving content or simply getting organized, the next step to ease frustration is to confront the problem.

Whether you get distracted or get organized, the end result is the same:  calmer emotions.

That's our third and last tip:

3.  Confront the problem.

Keep in mind this doesn't always mean confronting an actual person. I know when I'm at my lowest, feeling discouraged, moody and frustrated, often all I really need is a good night's sleep.

Or sometimes I simply have a bad attitude, and I need to just admit it and move on.

Other times, though, there is someone else involved who I need to deal with; someone directly contributing to the frustration I'm feeling.

This is where you use the power of words to your benefit. I have personally found even when people are frustrating me and we're butting heads on a particular issue, we can both find significant common ground.

Confrontation is your friend IF you abide by some ground rules.

Here are 3 questions I ask myself before and during confrontation:

  1. "What is the desired end result?" Is it to start a fight or resolve the situation? How do my words and actions answer that question?

  2. "What's my real motivation?" Am I trying to prove I'm right and be in control, or am I actually trying to solve the problem?

  3. "How can I help?" Is the person I'm dealing with my "enemy" or does he or she want the same thing I want: resolution? Maybe they're having a rough time in their personal life or they're letting frustration get the better of them. How can I help?

It's hard to think seriously about these questions without them impacting how you confront people, even difficult ones.

Even during my toughest times of anger and frustration I have found relief when I practice these simple tips: shut my mouth; get distracted or organized; and constructively confront people.

How about you? Do you have any tips on dealing with anger or frustration? Have you tried any of the ones I've shared? Leave a comment below and let me know.

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