7+1 Questions To Ask When You Are Frustrated

7+1 Questions To Ask When You Are Frustrated

I feel frustrated more often than I like to admit. It’s an emotion that most of us experience daily in some way. What I know to be true for me is that staying in my frustration doesn’t help me, and in fact, slows my progress.

The definition of frustration is: the feeling of being upset or annoyed, especially because of the inability to change or achieve something. Frustration arises from events and circumstances that didn’t work like we thought they should. This can include being frustrated with others because they didn’t do, act, say, etc. as we believed they should.

Hmmmm – this really is a juicy topic because it impacts every last one of us. Frustration happens when we have an expectation of ourselves, someone else, an event, a project or an interaction that didn’t go as we expected. Even if someone else is involved in our frustration, it doesn’t have anything to do with that person because the frustration simply comes from what we EXPECTED, not what they did.

I understand that sounds crazy because we can all make a list of people who frustrate us. I promise, though, that they are not frustrating you. It’s your reaction to their action that is causing your frustration, which means the only one that can lessen your frustration is you. So how do you do that?

The next time you feel frustrated ask yourself these questions to gain an understanding of the situation. Once you understand it, you can do something with it.

  1. Am I really seeing this for what it is or am I missing something? Perception is reality, however, it might not be real. Look at the situation from a different angle or even ask someone else what they see. You may have a blind spot.
  2. What else is possible? How can I change my approach? The quickest way to change the feeling of frustration is to take action. Asking “what else is possible” opens the door for new insight. Doing something different creates the opportunity to get to your outcome. Inaction will only create more frustration.
  3. What’s going right? What is getting my attention right now? So much of our energy is focused only on what’s going wrong. We can immediately shift from frustration to gratitude when we shift our focus to what is going right. Ninety percent of the project may be going great, however, you might be letting the 10% that is more challenging cause you frustration. Shift your attention.
  4. Where could I have communicated what I wanted more clearly? We often want to blame someone else if there is a break-down in communication. The blame game only adds to frustration. It never solves it. Take a look at how you communicated your expectations. It doesn’t matter what you say to someone. What matters is what they hear. That person is going to deliver on what they heard, not what you said. What can you do moving forward to ensure what they heard matches what you want?
  5. Am I frustrated because I don’t want to admit that I miscalculated, or I didn’t know the answer, or I couldn’t do what I thought I could, etc.? No one likes being wrong or not having the answer, and yet, every one of us has found ourselves in exactly that situation many times. What if you treated life like an experiment? Sometimes the experiment works and sometimes it doesn’t. That way, when it doesn’t, we simply learn and move on with no need to slow down and be frustrated.
  6. Will what happened matter in a week? A month? A year? Be honest. Is it really that big of a deal? Think back to another time when you were frustrated, and if that situation still matters today. This really helps put any situation in perspective.
  7. Am I as interested in seeing the situation for what it is as I am in being “right”? In question five, I didn’t want to admit I was wrong. This is about having the need to be right about everything. What could be accomplished if you didn’t always have to be right?

And now for our +1 question. When you get to the point where you can ask this question first, you won’t need the other seven questions. This question requires you to accept responsibilty for everything that happens in your life, though, and that’s a pretty tall order for most people.

+1. What did I do to cause the situation that frustrated me? What will I do differently moving forward?

This is the fast track method to a life with very little frustration because you will be too busy moving forward. As soon as you accept personal responsibility for what is happening in your world, you can shift from the energy of frustration to the energy of action. The blame game just slows everything and brings everyone (including you) down.

Frustration is caused by the story you are telling yourself about whatever is happening at that time. Rather than tell yourself a story, choose to be in the moment, stay focused on what you want and keep taking the next step.

Write the +1 question on a post-it note, and put it some place where you can easily see it. Send me an email at barb@high5leadership.com, and tell me what changes for you when you start living this question.