How to Stop Being Frustrated

Frustration © Erik Back 2012

Frustration © Erik Back 2012

Well, actually you don’t stop being frustrated, because the frustrations are part of life and you need them to get success. I have done a bit of research in the concept of frustration and that made me understand the essence and how to deal with frustration. I will attempt to explain what I believe frustration is and how you can get in control of your frustrations.

Understand frustration

Get in control of your frustrations

Learn to deal with your frustrations

Turn frustration into positive growth

While researching and writing a working paper I saw an important connection to some of my early work on this blog. I saw how I can manage my frustrations by working on my habits and basic needs.

Frustration is good

First of all I want to make clear that frustration is a good thing. We need frustrations to grow. We don’t develop if we don’t have frustrations. But for some people, myself included, frustrations are more frequent and they tend to do more harm than good. Sometimes I overreact dramatise.

It can be awfully distressing for people around me when I let my frustrations get out of control. The reason that my frustrations seem to do more harm than good is that I don’t know how to deal with them.

The feeling of frustration comes from not being able to satisfy a need or desire.

Seven common emotions that give frustration

  1. Boredom (the need for mental stimulation)
  2. Anger (a feeling that something is unjust)
  3. Fear (you feel threatend by something)
  4. Sadness (you are not happy with the way things are)
  5. Loneliness (the need to be with others)
  6. Stress (you need some time to relax)
  7. Feelings of inadequacy (you don’t feel confident in your abilities)
Habits based on Maslow and Frankl

Hierarchy of Habits © Erik Back 2011

Out of these seven emotions I have identified three that I know I handle the wrong way: stress, anger and fear. While thinking about this and asking myself what to do about it, I came to think about a model I made on this blog. I called it the hierarchy of habits.

It is based on Maslows hierarchy of needs. If I plot in the emotions and needs that are connected to frustration I get this:

Boredom has to do with the need for self-actualisation.

Feelings of inadequacy have to do with the need for esteem.

Sadness and loneliness have to do with the need for love and belonging.

Anger, stress and fear have to do with the need for safety.

The purpose of the hierarchy of habits is to show what is important to build a good foundation for your life. You have to get balance in your physiological needs before you can start building your safety needs etc. If you don’t have at stable foundation, you will face problems like frustration at other levels. To stop being frustrated you need to work on your basic needs.

To deal with anger I first have to fulfill my physiological needs. Get enough sleep, exercise, eat healthy food and cleanse my body. Then I can start working on my needs for safety at home, at work, balance my economy and order.

For a few weeks I have been working on sleep and exercise; and I can already feel a change in my frustrations.



Why You Should Make a Habit of Thinking

Stopping to think © by Envios

“A habit is something you can do without thinking – which is why most of us have so many of them.”  ~Frank A. Clark

The first time I read this quote it made me laugh; I also laughed the second time and the third. But then I started to think about it – it is both funny and has good point. Implicit Mr. Clark is referring to the bad habits that sneak upon you without you noticing. If you just go with the flow and always act by impulse your habits are going to be random and a lot of them will be bad habits that stop you from getting what you want in life.

It is easier to act on emotions and impulse than thinking about your actions, but to get good habits that will result in your success you have to use your ability to think. Start defining what you want in life and discover the good habits you need to get there. You can address your destiny by using your brains.

Descartes famous words finally come to good use: “I think, therefore I am.” While studying philosophy at the university I never managed to get impressed by Descartes, but in this case his words seem to fit the context. If you want to be someone or something; if you want to achieve; if you want to get the feeling of accomplishment then start thinking and use your common sense and a good deal of willpower.

If you think about your habits and realise them, then you will achieve and you will feel the meaning of life. Your habits define who you are and by forming good habits you will be. In other words – if you think, you will be.

The Origin of Habit

Parisian Love Lock © by

Why should you be interested in the origin of the word habit? Because I believe that the language we use creates the reality we live in and by examining history we can better understand the components of a concept or an idea. In the case of habits I will show some important key elements of the concept. E.g. emotion is a core concept of habits; emotions are essential to the existence of a habit.

It is both rewarding and interesting to study history to understand better and I have made some research on the word “habit”. I have tracked the word back to the Indo-European word “ghabh” meaning to grab or to take. Indo-European is the language family most European languages come from and English follows a branch of the family consisting of Germanic, West Germanic, Anglo-Frisian and Anglic.

“Habit” comes from Indo-European but it did not develop into the Germanic branch of languages; it was adopted from French monks about year 1300. The synonym “wonts” is not used much anymore but that is the original word for the meaning “habit” has today.

“Wonts” comes from the Indo-European word “wen-“ that means love, want or win. If you study the words that come from “wen-“ you will discover that they all have emotions in common. They express something that we have a strong feeling for; something we love or something we have a strong desire to own.

Thus, a habit is connected to words like love, want, take and win. They are all strong words that express emotion, desire, action and vision. Most of the models and tools that are developed to assist you getting success in life encompass desire, action and vision, but very often they miss out emotions.

What Is a Habit?

Red Traffic Light © by dlofink

According to the dictionary a habit is: “… a routine behaviour that is repeated regularly and tends to occur subconsciously.” We need habits to make a solid foundation upon which we can build our life. Sometimes these habits become a hinder to what we want because they have turned into bad habits. That often happens when conditions in our environment change and we do not change with these conditions.

E.g. every day you drive the same way for work, and you have done it for years. If someone at work would ask you how many traffic lights you saw on the way and how many of the traffic lights were red, then you would not be able to answer. Driving to work is a routine that you do not think about and your subconscious mind has taken over most of your driving.

Many years ago I drove my car the same way every day and one day I missed a traffic light and ran through a red light. How could that happen? Well, the traffic light was new and it had never been there before and was not a part of my unconscious routines. My old habit suddenly had to change or it would turn into a bad habit of running through red lights.

Habits are very powerful because they are actions that we do without having to think about what we are doing. That is why you can take charge of your own life and destiny as soon as you learn how to control your habits. Old habits are very difficult to break and new habits are difficult to make because the routines of the habits are programmed into your neural pathways and you need to reprogram yourself to control your habits.

Aristotle said that virtues are habits and the good life is a life of mindless routine. Basically this means that your life equals your habits. If your habits are good you will have a good life, if your habits are bad you will have a bad life. Take a look at your life and see if you succeed in what you are doing. Are you happy? If not, then maybe you should consider doing thing differently.

Stephen R. Covey is the author of the book “7 Good Habits of Highly Effective People” and he found that habits are the sum of our knowledge, desire and skills. I highly recommend this book and in my upcoming posts I will show you how important emotions are as well.