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Sometimes, some days, it seems like nothing goes right.
It may be a well-laid plan coming apart at the seams due to some inconsequential triviality. Maybe it’s just nothing working out the way you thought it would.
There are times when it seems like the whole universe may be conspiring to give you a hard time.
Whoops! Dropped a coffee cup!
Why did I forget to push the start button for my dryer!?
What did I just step in!? Maybe if I don’t look down, it’ll go away…
Of course, I’m running ten minutes late! I’m sure the boss will be happy about that.
This meeting is so boring. I have so much work to do!
On, and on, and on it goes until you reach a point where you just want to scream in frustration.
It’s okay! We’ve all had those days. What’s important is that we get back on track and try not to let it ruin what could be a good day!
How do you do that?
We all tend to have this idea in our minds of how we think a situation should go. And when it doesn’t go the way we planned, it invokes emotions like anger and frustration.
The moment something goes wrong, we have to pause, take a few deep breaths, and make a decision to not jump onto those negative emotions.
An emotional response can come just as a matter of habit, even when you’re not actually angry or frustrated. You can experience a frustrating circumstance, one that you intellectually understand isn’t a big deal and still jump straight into anger because that’s just what you’re used to doing. It feels like the next natural step in experiencing frustration, but it doesn’t have to be.
Maybe it’s not so simple for you. Maybe you have a volatile temper and deeper emotions than a lot of people. Just pausing can be beneficial for you too. It just might take some more time and work to find your strength and center when faced with a frustrating situation. It’s simple, but it’s not easy.
2. Consider the importance of the frustration.
It’s so easy to get more worked up about a thing than is really necessary. After you pause, consider what happened. Does this require any kind of severe emotional response?
Dropping a coffee mug is frustrating. You might have burned yourself a little bit. There are now shards of the coffee mug all over the floor, waiting for you to inevitably step on a sliver even after you sweep the floor three times.
And you have to take the time to clean up the mess. Who has time for that? You still need to get the kids off to school, finish getting dressed, and get ready for work!
Consider the importance of the situation. Will this matter in five minutes? Five hours? Five months? Five years?
Sure, it takes maybe ten or fifteen minutes to clean up a mess like that. And then what? Then you’re on with your day, on with your life, and it’s totally in your rear-view mirror. It’s nothing to worry about.
3. Discard the frustration.
Now, it’s time to discard the frustration, like so many broken pieces of dropped coffee mug.
Defusing frustrating situations from the start will keep them from piling up and weighing you down.
One thing goes wrong: okay, it happens. The second thing goes wrong: ugh, I must just be having a bad day. And by the time the tenth thing rolls around to go wrong, it’s so easy to be frustrated and angry that nothing is going as planned.
That’s why you have to interrupt the anger and frustration early on, so they don’t have a chance to escalate. Once it escalates, it’s so much harder to deal with.
This approach may seem like an oversimplified process. Again, it’s simple, but it’s not easy.
But it is something that gets easier the more you do it. The more you can shrug off the minor annoyances and frustrations that life throws at you, the easier it is to preserve your peace and happiness.
But what if your frustration is much larger than that? What if it’s not so much dropping a cup of coffee and running late, and more along the lines of significant plans not working out?
A relationship isn’t working out, school isn’t going as planned, and life just isn’t going how you want it to go.
Well, this small process can help, but some additional things can make the overall journey much easier.
4. Prepare yourself ahead of time for the frustration.
The problem with success is that it is rarely a straight line. When we see success, we typically see a smiling, happy person at the end of a long journey of ups, downs, trials and tribulations, failures, and trying again. Very few people make a plan and drive straight to success with no obstacles or setbacks on the way.
Plan for it!
Know that when you set out on a new path that you’re going to face obstacles. Know that when everything doesn’t seem to be going right, that you may very well be on the right path.
Mentally prepare yourself for these situations by understanding that failure is part of the process. It’s how you view and use failure that determines whether or not you succeed.
Failure is a powerful learning tool. It shows you what doesn’t work and teaches you things you don’t know. You can then take that knowledge and look for another way forward.
5. Look for the pivot.
Sometimes, things not going right is indicative of a plan not working out. It could be that you had bad information before you set out. It’s difficult to be aware of what you don’t know until that wisdom is slapping you in the face.
That’s where the pivot comes in. You may find that your frustration and experience is trying to tell you something positive. It could be highlighting another opportunity that you weren’t able to see before.
Look for a place to pivot.
What can you do to make this frustration productive? Can you refine your plan? Is there another avenue that might have opened up to provide you an opportunity? Do you need to change direction to get closer to your goal? How can this frustration serve as a stepping stone toward something better?
6. Take a break.
Life is frustrating. Things aren’t working out. Plan after plan is falling through. All of the minor annoyances are finally building up into a rage-inducing cataclysm of frustration and profanity just aching to boil over.
It’s time for a little break and some self-care.
A “little” break is really going to depend on the size of the issue that you’re dealing with. Maybe you just need fifteen minutes to not think about the annoyances of the day piling up. Or, maybe you need to take a weekend to relax, sit with yourself, and decompress from the stress of life’s frustrations piling up on you.
Wherever you can get it, take a little break.
It’s hard to see the truth of a matter or make good decisions when you’re angry. You may find that the frustrating issue that you were dealing with isn’t much of anything at all once you’ve had an opportunity to calm down and come back to it. You can look at the situation with fresh eyes and maybe find an obvious solution you couldn’t see while angry.
That’s okay. It’s perfectly normal.
7. Get help if things get too much.
Sometimes the little annoyances and frustrations build up, or a series of unfortunate events happen that make you feel like nothing ever goes right.
If you are struggling both emotionally and practically, there is no shame in getting help and support. In fact, it’s a brave and sensible choice to find someone to lean on when times are rough.
That may mean asking friends or family members for help, but just be aware that they may not always be able to give effective or even impartial advice. They may mean well, but that doesn’t mean they are cut out to deal with all the things you face.
The wiser choice may be seeking professional help in the form of a counselor who is trained to listen carefully to you before offering a well-considered path out of your predicament. They will be able to advise you in practical terms and also with your emotional state when nothing seems to be going right.