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How To Manage Frustration Like A Boss

Take Your Power Back And Keep Stress At Bay


Tips to help with your journey to thriving while living with chronic illness

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Frustration is a real pain…it’s aggravating, maddening, and can make you feel like you don’t have any control.  In the best case, it can make you feel annoyed.  In the worst case, it can stop you in your tracks and make you want to give up.

You’ll feel frustrated when your expectations in some area aren’t being met.  As long as you’re trying in life, you can’t eliminate frustration, but you CAN manage it and even take advantage of the feedback that it gives you!

Ultimately, it all comes down to how you prepare for frustration and how you respond to it. With practice, you can develop strategies to manage, minimize, and work with frustration.  Here are some ideas to help you manage and even lessen your level of frustration:

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1. A great first step in managing frustration is to recognize that you DO have power in the situation, even though you may not have control over what caused the frustration in the first place. Take responsibility.  Don’t give up your power to MS or whatever else may be the triggering event because then you give up your power to alter the situation. Remember that you DO have a choice in how you respond.

2. Take a step back and get clear on exactly why you’re feeling frustrated.  When you notice that you’re frustrated, ask yourself why. Dig a bit deeper than the first answer that seems “obvious.”  The real reason for your frustration may be different than the one that you initially thought. Really be aware of your thoughts and self-talk to give you some clues. For example, in the scheme of things, does it really matter that you only lost 2 pounds this week instead of the 3 pound goal that you’d set? What do your thoughts and self-talk suggest might really be driving your frustration with that situation? Is it possible that perfectionism or a self-image that’s more negative than you deserve might be responsible?

3. Take frustration both as a positive sign that you believe you’re capable of doing better and as important feedback that shows that something you’re doing may require a different approach.  Think about it and determine what is working (It’s unlikely that everything you’re doing is failing. You’re almost certainly doing some things that are working).  Next, examine what isn’t working.  What possibilities can you think of for why it isn’t working?  Brainstorm some ideas for how you can adjust your approach.

4.  Don’t dwell on limitations that are beyond your control and focus instead on what you CAN do or change.  Identify obstacles that are currently standing in your way that you can do something about and set your sights on those.

5. Identify potential obstacles ahead of time. What might go wrong, and what is even likely to go wrong? What can you do now to prepare yourself? It’s much more frustrating to deal with an unforeseen setback than to deal with something you expected from the beginning.  Develop a plan (and a Plan B and a Plan C if you need it) to work with or around the potential obstacle.

6. Be aware of your own responsibility or part in the frustrating situation. Have you made any unreasonable or unfair demands on yourself, especially given MS limitations?  Do you have way too many items on your To-Do list? How much of the problem stems from your being critical of or too hard on yourself, or some other type of perfectionism? Ratchet down your stress level by identifying and owning the percentage of frustration that you yourself may have caused. Make a list of ideas for what you can do to lower that percentage in the future.

Frustration can make you feel miserable and want to give up, but both misery and your stress level are optional responses. Instead of reacting with autopilot upset or throwing in the towel, you can regain your power in a frustrating situation through your conscious choice of how you respond.  Including the ideas above in an advance plan for managing frustration will help you to conserve energy, maintain clarity and focus, and persevere even when things aren’t working out as you’d expected.

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Tips to help with your journey to thriving while living with chronic illness