When feelings of frustration arise, we often can’t see a way out and we don’t know what to do to feel better, but there is a way of noticing and dealing with our frustrations through mindfulness.
Once we are aware that feelings of frustration are building up, we can start to notice what is going on in the body and mind. Start by beginning to think about what frustration feels like.
So what does frustration feel like?
I really like the picture that novels create in words describing how people are feeling, so I thought I would try and describe how frustration feels to me:
Frustration feels like constantly tripping over, falling, sinking, confused, hurt, upset, annoyed, trapped, unable to express feelings or understand things clearly. Not able to deal with problems, cope with pressure or feel relief, constantly opening a door only to find it blocked, stuck in a maze unable to find a way out. Feeling tight, restricted, held down, wrapped up, stuck, struggling, wriggling to get out, not able to release the ropes, see the light or move forward. Then when you do take a step forward you find that you have gone back to the beginning, like constantly going down a snake in snakes and ladders and returning to where you started, unable to progress. It’s like being stuck in a traffic jam that’s not moving when you desperately need to be somewhere or a dream where nothing seems to go right and you just can’t get out.
Does this sound familiar? This is your first step – getting to know how are you really feeling?
Next, why do you feel that way? Are your expectations different to what is actually happening? Did you want to achieve something but couldn’t due to unexpected circumstances. Are you frustrated with yourself? Can you actually do anything about these things? If not, can you relax, wait, be patient?
Usually frustration arises when we can’t do anything to change our circumstances. So if you can’t do anything, try just being with your feelings and be kind to yourself. Allow yourself to feel this way – there is no point in giving yourself a hard time as well! Accept your feelings, let them go and return to what you are doing right now, in this moment, focus on a task or just be aware of the rise and fall of your breath.
Once the difficult moment has passed, do whatever it is you need to in order to release built up emotions, whatever comes naturally, cry, run, walk in nature, relax, read a book, whatever feels good.
The step by step approach to dealing with emotions:
- Be aware of your feelings
- Notice why you feel that way
- Allow yourself to feel your emotions without blame (be kind to yourself)
- Let go of your feelings and return to the present moment (just breath)
- Release built up emotions naturally – cry, run, laugh, exercise, relax
Being mindful is all about being kind to yourself and letting things be as they are, without judgment or blame, just be gentle and the moment will pass.