Do you ever struggle with managing your emotions when you feel overcome by frustration? Instead of lashing out or doing something else you'll regret here are a series of practices that will start to shift how you deal with feelings of frustration.
1. Pinpoint your reaction
Self-awareness is key. Once you start to know how you react to feelings of frustration you can then start to work on changing them. Notice your urge to go to your habitual pattern (shutting down or lashing out), but instead of indulging in that reaction, pause it. Float outside of your emotions. Stop yourself from reacting in this way. It sounds easy and it actually is.
2. Embrace your feelings of frustration
Again, pause, and let yourself take a breath. Drop your attention into your body and notice the feeling of frustration and anger. Stay with these sensations. Remember how they feel. Notice how strong the urge to lash out feels, and just savour that strong feeling instead of acting on it. Treat the emotion differently, instead of feeling overcome feel curious. Study it. Open up to it, relax around it, be with it. Love this feeling, if you can. Once you practice this, you become comfortable being in the middle of frustration and this is the absolute objective to mastering your frustrations.
3. The third practice is to use this newfound space to connect to the other person
Your heart is closed to whoever because you think they are the problem. The problem is your closed heart.
Try opening yourself a little. This is a challenging but hugely productive practice. From this place, notice the other person — they are acting the way they’re acting because they are feeling some kind of pain themselves. Maybe your negativity towards them is making them feel cornered or defensive. You’re in this together. both of you feel bad. Now how can you work on this together?
4. The final practice is to try to find an appropriate, loving and compassionate response
You have empathised with the other person, but now you need to take action. What action to take - is always a question based on the facts - the most important factor is that you are not reacting with anger - which gives rise to inappropriate responses like lashing out.
What is an appropriate, loving, compassionate response? Some examples:
- The other person is upset, so you help them calm down, listen to their frustrations and offer compassion.
- The other person acted inconsiderately but perhaps was unaware of how that affected you so you should compassionately, share the impact of their actions on you and asking calmly for a specific thing they can do in the future instead.
- The other person is not willing to engage in a compassionate dialogue. You can’t talk to them calmly, because they argue with everything. In this case, you might want to think whether this person is willing to change their behaviour. If you can't communicate, you can't ever grow together, so you should seriously consider their future in your life.
- The other person is abusive. You empathize with the pain they must feel in order to be like this. But you also remove yourself from the situation to protect yourself from harm. You try to help them get the help they need while being firm about your boundaries.