My client was impatient.
With the situation.
With how hard it was and how long it was taking.
With the bleepity-bleepity Microsoft Excel that she believed she couldn’t master.
She asked me…
“How will I know if it’s worth it?”
I’ve learned that the word “how” is an escape hatch sometimes.
It’s one way the brain offers an escape from the discomfort of change, or trying something new.
The only way to know “how” is to “do.”
Another variation of this escape hatch thinking is “This isn’t working!”
Yes, sure, sometimes you run an experiment and it’s not going in the direction you want to continue.
You decide it’s not working.
Sometimes saying “This isn’t working!” from utter frustration is code for:
- “This isn’t meeting my expectations.”
- “This is so much harder than I thought it would be when I dreamed about doing this.”
- “I feel uncomfortable and I prefer to feel comfortable.”
It’s not uncommon for frustration to be because we expected our change to be different than it is.
Yeah, great, Coach Lisa, now what?!
Well, when you are in frustration, perhaps even lashing out, mentally demanding relief NOW, here’s what you can do:
- First, notice how you are talking to yourself about your frustration.
- Ask if you are either comparing yourself to past versions of you or the expectation you had for how things should be going. This can sound like…”I knew that I couldn’t do this! I’ve NEVER been able to do this.” or “This is so, so much harder/longer/time-consuming/etc. This is not what I signed up for!”
- Then, noticing all that…ask yourself if you want to terminate the experiment. Quit. Give up. Change direction. Notice your body’s reaction.
That’s where the decision point sits:
- Keep going and sign up for possible frustration no matter how you allow and manage your thinking.
- Quit and feel frustration about quitting or the next thing you try. 😂
Frustration is not an enemy.
It is not an emotion to be avoided.
You could even decide to accept it as both a fact of life and as an indicator of a life well lived.
I freakin’ hate growing myself.
There! You heard it from me, a thrice certified coach.
I get so frustrated and annoyed sometimes and my most-practiced pattern is to avoid or escape the discomfort.
As a coach, have I been able to get rid of frustration?
Yes and no.
Yes in the sense that I see my frustration as an indicator and then release it more quickly.
No in the sense that emotions arise in me the same as anybody.
In fact, when I sign up to do something new, I plan for my temper tantrums including the “This isn’t worth it!” and “This isn’t working!” responses.
I literally will factor that in.
I am working on a project that requires new software plus process. So…I’m planning extra time to learn and also doing some work early so that I can mentally clear the decks for the learning curve.
And… The surprising thing is that when I do this…I often minimize the frustration.
It’s like my mind says, “You can come if you want. I’m expecting you. Get cozy” and my rebellious frustration responds, “Well, shucks. That’s no fun. Nevermind!”
Try planning for and even inviting frustration the next time you try to make change in yourself, your family, or your community.
See what happens!
P.S. I invite you to fall in love with my podcast, “Less Stress, More Fun.” Subscribe today! Each week’s episodes are short (14-18 mins, on average), smart (lots of research) and fun (especially if you love 80s music).