A lot of feelings will draw your attention elsewhere where your attention doesn’t do you any good. The feeling of frustration is this way. When you’re feeling frustrated, your attention is on the object of your frustration when it should be on yourself.
Just the other day, I was trying to be on time for an appointment and two elderly drivers were traveling ten miles below the speed limit, side-by-side on the highway. I should have known better, but I was feeling frustrated. My attention was on those two drivers because they were in the way. I believed I would feel better only if they let me go by. My feelings were in their hands. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. The part of me that knows better took control when I paid attention to what I was doing instead of paying attention to them.
The part of me that knows better said: The feeling of frustration is what we get when we try to do the impossible.
Frustration said: Not true, it’s possible for one of these old guys to speed up, or one to slow down, pull over and let me pass.
The part of me that knows better said: Yes it is; for them. But not for us. It’s you who’s trying to do the impossible.
Frustration said: I left early. It’s not too far. I made it on time every other day. It ought to be possible to make my appointment on time.
The part of me that knows better said: Not today it’s not. Today, you’re trying to do the impossible. You didn’t know it when you left, but you should know now.
Frustration said: There ought to be a law that requires old people to hand over their license when they can’t drive the speed limit.
The part of me that knows better said: But there isn’t a law. If it were possible, then maybe there would be. If it was possible, they still wouldn’t be able to pass it and enforce it in time for us to make our appointment. You are expecting the impossible.
Frustration said: They should have put three lanes on this highway when they built it. Then I wouldn’t have to wait.
The part of me that knows better said: Maybe they should have, but they can’t right now. They can’t build a third lane in time for you to make your appointment. You are expecting the impossible.
Frustration said: Those old people ought to know that they’re holding us up.
The part of me that knows better said: Maybe, but they don’t, or they don’t care. You can’t communicate directly with them, so you can’t convince them. You can flash your lights, blow your horn, ride their tail, and make gestures with your hands, but you can’t make them speed up or pull over. It’s up to them. You’re trying to do the impossible.
The part of me that knows better went on: Everyone else in this scenario is doing the possible, but you. You are trying to do the impossible. You didn’t know it was impossible when you left, but you can know it now.
Frustration asked: How do I know when I’m trying to do the impossible?
The part of me that knows better said: When you’re frustrated that’s how. Frustration tells you when you have encountered the impossible.
Frustration asked: How can I stop being frustrated?
The part of me that knows better said: Stop trying to do the impossible, that’s how. Maybe it’s possible to be on time if you go another way. Get off the highway and try a different route. If that’s a reasonable alternative, then you’re no longer trying to do the impossible and your frustration will begin to diminish.
Frustration said: There is no other route that’s any better than this. This is the only way to go.
The part of me that knows better said: Then you’ll have to drive behind these old people, wait for them to let you pass and accept that it’s impossible to not be late.
The part of me that knows better was right. The second I stopped trying to do the impossible, I felt better. The frustration went away.
I first I was frustrated with my frustration, but then I realized my frustration was trying to teach me something. It was trying to show me what was impossible. All this time, frustration was just trying to help.
Do you hate feeling frustrated? Then stop trying to do the impossible and find a different way.
Previously published on Medium.com.
If you believe in the work we are doing here at The Good Men Project and want a deeper connection with our community, please join us as a Premium Member, today.
All Premium Members get to view The Good Men Project with NO ADS. Need more info? A complete list of benefits is here.
Photo credit: istockphoto.com