Deb Sofield


The Emotion of Frustration

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I am continuing with my series on emotions.

I started the series with the emotion of anger because anger is a cancer to your soul. So, to have any chance for a successful and happy life, friend, you have to let it go. Then I talked about the pain of personal shame. Shame is a Failure to Meet Your Own Standard of Behavior, and this emotion will wreck your life if you’re not careful. And I added in the thought that you should stop thinking that others have to accept your forgiveness for you to be forgiven. They don’t. Once you’ve done your part, you are now free, so walk away without the burden of shame. And then I spoke on jealousy, that green-eyed monster that will wreck your perfectly happy home and make you (a normal person) become insane with rage, keeping you up at night fretting over things you can’t control. Then the emotion of worry and I have added that worry is a useless emotion, because worry keeps your focus from real things. And last week I talked about scarcity, the idea of having less than you feel you need, and how that fear will affect your judgment in all areas of your life if you are not careful… because the world is full of opportunity, but too many people come to the fountain of life with a teaspoon instead of a steam shovel.

Today I want to add the emotion of frustration to the list, because frustration will wear your life down to a thread if you let it.

The definition of frustration is a deep chronic sense or state of insecurity and dissatisfaction arising from unresolved problems or unfulfilled needs.

Imagine that! You are taking an issue that you can probably have control over and allowing it to make you unhappy and dissatisfied with your amazing life, because you are living in a state of insecurity due to unresolved problems or unfulfilled needs.

So that is my starting point today, to remind you that you have some work to do if you want to get back up and get going in life. You are going to have to resolve some of the problems that are filling your heart, mind, soul and spirit. Some reading this today might even need to find a way to fill some un-met needs. I wish it were easier, but it’s not, so—yes—you’re going to have to do some work before you get better. Ah, but, friend, you can do it!

Now before I go on, let me remind you that, no matter what you think about yourself today, I am here to tell you that you matter. So just trust me on that thought as you continue reading (and afterwards you can go back to your no good, very bad, awful life. I’m joking!) Well, since you matter, you have a place in this world that only you can fill—no one else can do things the way you do, so let’s set aside your sad-sack feelings of insecurity and dissatisfaction of your current life and situation and let’s (at the very least) think about the next steps to move you forward.

Without a doubt, like everyone else, I get frustrated from time to time about things I need to either make a decision about or things that don’t happen the way I want them to work out. We all have had that feeling at some time in our life. What we do with that feeling is what will be the life-changing turn you need make to see a new direction.

I am going to take the actual definition of frustration and walk you through ways to force the issue to a final conclusion so you can move on and repair other issues in your life.

If the issue of an unresolved problem is what is causing you such frustration, then, friend, we need to find a way to bring closure to the matter. Or if the pain and frustration is of an unmet need or is a wound that needs to be healed, then that needs to be brought into the healing and cleansing light so you can find peace.

Both aspects are hard to deal with…because unmet needs just hurt. Whether it is the longing for a healthy physical relationship with your spouse that over time has grown cold and distant to the point where nothing is interesting anymore (that hurts), or for some it is the need to be accepted or believed in, cared about, forgiven, loved, feeling safe, supported, trusted, understood and valued (that list is from Top 10 Emotional Needs of Children and Most Adults).

I am not going to delve into Maslow’s hierarchy of needs since most of you listening today know them or at least have heard of them, but do I want to stress when it comes to the issue of un-met needs, only you can ask for what you need—no one can read your mind.

I find it fascinating when I talk with someone who goes on and on about how their spouse, friend, parent doesn’t do what they want or need them to do, and I ask, “Well, did you tell them what you needed?” and the answer? “NO.” Really? You expected them to read your mind and make things right? Then I am often told, Well, yes, they should just know. They know me and they should know my needs. If I may be so bold, that is asking a lot from someone who may not be clued in to your life at this moment of need.

But I am sure that if you had done just a little bit of your part to start or finish the conversation about the un-met need that is causing you pain and harm, life would be much easier for all involved.

I can remember a friend who would get upset at me because they thought that I should just know what I had done to upset them. Well, goodness, if I had known what I’d done, I probably would not have done it. So how was I to know what issue hit them wrong that day? I hate to state the obvious, but sometimes you’ve got to get off your high horse and give peace a chance… and help the issue come to light.

Now for some, their spouse, friend, parent knows what they did and they still refuse to make it right, either because they really don’t care about you or the issue that much (which is hard to accept) or they are playing the same game of guess how you hurt me today that you are playing, so, if that is the case, call a truce and write out the feeling that is causing such a mess of your emotions, and see if you can either explain or leave a letter that clearly outlines the needs you want them to meet. And if it still cannot be solved, don’t be afraid to seek the help of a licensed professional counselor—someone who doesn’t have a stake in the outcome but who can be an honest sounding board and help you work through the issue at hand—because you don’t need to waste another day dealing with the pain of un-met needs that could be brought to a conclusion…and which might save your marriage, help you with your kids or bring some clarity when dealing with your elderly parents.

The other part of dealing with frustration is finding a way to deal with the issue of an unresolved problem. I just finished reading a book by Marie Kondo called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of De-cluttering and Organizing. And I find a parallel to the issue of unresolved problems that just hang around and take up valuable space until you do something about them… Friends, just like socks don’t find their way into the drawer unless you take action, the problem that is weighing you down is most likely not going away until you make a decision to either confront it, expose it or deal with the issue that is the focus of your unresolved problem, which is causing pain.

I find that, sometimes, decisions I need to make just seem to hang around, because I don’t know an answer or I am so tired of dealing with the problem that in the interim I need a rest to see if…

  1. An answer magically shows up,
  2. It solves itself on its own, or
  3. If I made the issue greater than it is, and (if given time) would the answer come to light?

The problem for me in the waiting is that many times I need an answer now to move to my next big idea.

If most of our frustration is caused by unresolved problems, how can we move forward to finding a resolution so we can keep going in the direction of our dreams?

Let me give you three ideas that I have used.

One of the most important things I do—being a person of faith—is pray about the situation. And once I have stated my need and how I see the situation, I ask for guidance in moving forward and then I wait…which is not easy for me. Sometimes I find that leaving the issue “on the table” (in a sense) for a time, relieves me of the burden of trying to fix it, because when I surrender the fight and lay my burden down, I usually come to realize what caused the problem, and then, if I am the reason, I can undo the damage or be secure enough to know that I am in the clear and the burden is not mine to carry.

Second thing I do is to write out or sketch out the issue I have to work through. Sometimes the act of writing helps my mind create a path forward, because a lot of times, when I’m in the middle of an unresolved problem, it is hard for me to find the opening; somehow, writing helps my mind put things in order, so I can move forward.

Third, and probably the hardest for me, is knowing that the problem that has landed in my lap is not of my doing or making and, therefore, I am under no responsibility to fix it for others. Don’t be unnerved by a problem that others have forced you to be a part of that you have no business being dragged into. I find this to be one of the greatest frustrations I have encountered. Remember, people don’t like to suffer alone, so they throw a net and see who else they can rope into being a part of their drama. Ah, friend, run away from these people…whether they are family or friends or business partners.

No one should live in a state of insecurity and dissatisfaction from unresolved problems or unfulfilled needs. Today is the day for a new start, maybe in a new direction, or maybe you stay on this path with a renewed sense of self and purpose because, as I said in the beginning, you matter and you are needed and loved. And every day you hide your gifts, your light, yourself. You’ve lost a day of purpose, and I know you’re better than that.

Deb Sofield

Deb Sofield is a Keynote Speaker, Author of the book, Speak without Fear – Rock Star Presentation Skills to get People to Hear What You Say and Encouragement For Your Life ~ Tough Love Memos to Help You Fight Your Battles and Change the World, Radio Talk Show Host in the Salem Network, Podcaster and President of her own Executive Speech Coaching Co., which trains women and men for success in speaking, crisis communications, presentation skills, media and message development in the U.S. and abroad.

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