Frustration is the annoying neighbor—he sees you before you can duck behind the badly placed front window curtain and now he’s in your living room not using a coaster. Like the unwanted neighbor, the intensity of a frustration meltdown usually comes out of nowhere and never wants to leave. So, what do you do when you feel like an emotional battlefield is taking place in your chest, head and gut? Read on!
Awareness raising questions-ask yourself these questions to open up the mind and prepare it for our step by step instructions to deal with frustration:
- What happens when I stop pushing?
- What is the fear if I don’t make it happen?
- Would it be ok if I didn’t push and instead let things be?
Now that our brain is on board with this mission, let’s dive into some practical tools for self-soothing.
- Take a Step Back…way back
Sometimes we need to pull back from the bonfire—otherwise our face will melt off. The same goes with intense situations. If we feel a raging fire emitting from a certain situation it would make sense to take a step away from it. You want to give yourself the perspective so that you don’t get burned. Taking a step back can mean giving yourself some time alone, having a relaxing bath, going to yoga, talking to a friend or hanging out with your kids and/or pets. In other words, go do something else for a while. You need this time to process, decompress and reorient yourself.
- What are the triggers underneath this?
When we have an intense emotional reaction to something it may mean that it is a deep wound from childhood. Maybe our needs weren’t met or the recent situation reminds us of how we didn’t get the love and attention we wanted in a similar situation. For example, you showed our painting to a parent and they were busy so they ignored you or they were angry about something else and took it out on you.
These memories can leave a deep scar and when we do something in our present life that reminds us of that, we feel the same feelings in a more intense fashion. We show our creative project to our colleagues and they react negatively or they ignore it—there is the trigger. It’s like a hook that is stuck inside you and when the person says something they are essentially pulling on the emotional hook. Hence the emotional frustration. What we need to remember is that these triggers can be soothed. Sit in a quiet place and go within. Ask to talk to your inner child or the deeply vulnerable part of yourself. Then tell it what it needs to hear. You’ll instinctively know what to say. Once you’ve soothed that part of you, it won’t need to get your attention. The hook will be removed. Sometimes this is a process that takes a few “soothing” sessions, but it will get better each time.
- How can you fill yourself up?
Just as there are emotional triggers and hooks from childhood there are also triggers that relate to today. Maybe you aren’t living a balanced life and giving yourself what you need right now. When we look at the holes in our lives, we may see that we are getting frustrated at work but it’s really about the fact that we don’t have any fun. Or we don’t give ourselves enough sleep. Or alone time. Or social time. So, we may have an intensely frustrated reaction to a family member but when we take a bigger look at our life, it’s really about the fact that we aren’t expressing ourselves enough.
These triggers are very helpful. They let you know how you’re doing and what you need. Sit down again and get quiet. Listen to the inner part of yourself for messages about what you are ignoring or what you’ve focused on too much. Take note and try to adjust your life so that it’s more fluid and all encompassing.
Try these three ways to soothe yourself and you will notice that the next time you get into that state, the warning signs will be there for you. In other words, you’ll feel it right before the frustration gets really big. Or you’ll be more ready for it when it happens. Or better yet—you may dupe the frustration all together! Ah to live in a world with strategically placed curtains.