Dealing with Anger and Frustration

I don’t get angry very often.  I don’t get frustrated.  I typically am able to process through whatever is happening at the moment, analyze various perspectives, and work through the fact that whatever ails me is temporary and there is often a better way to handle the situation.

I’m currently coming down off of a rush of adrenaline, determination, frustration and a touch of anger.  I’m sleepy, but I want to get these thoughts out.

If someone doesn’t understand instructions, that’s ok.  If someone misreads their assignment, it’s forgivable.  If said person is corrected and told specifically what they did wrong and how to correct it and – instead of doing the right thing – they makes the exact same mistake again… that leads to frustration.  Instead of throwing my hands in the air and submitting to defeat in the name of “it’s not fair that I have to do her work,” I plowed through and completed the project as best as I could.  That’s the lesson I’ll remember from this course.

So how do I deal with potentially frustrating situations?  A simple three step process of decision and elimination.

When presented with a problem I go through this process, internally:

(1) Do I have any influence over this situation?

If the situation is completely out of my control, then what can I do?  Any anger or aggression simply will serve to tense up my muscles and cause negative thoughts to flow into mind.  I have too many thoughts and projects in my head as it is; I have no need to hold on to anger or bitterness.

If the situation is out of my control but effects those around me, I file away the memory.  My first response should not be to the situation, but to the person whose life intersects with mine.  If they need me to be angry, then I’ll share their anger (so that they don’t have to hold on to so much of it).  If they need me to remind them of grace, I gently nudge that direction. I’ve found that people prefer to share in anger than be reminded of grace.

If I do have influence over the situation, then I ask:

(2) How much energy will I need to exert to modify the situation?

Everything we do requires energy, and I only have so much of it.  I can choose to use my energy to love or to hate, to be productive or put it into reserve and rest.  Before I can make any of those decisions on a situation, I have to discern how much energy it will take to influence the situation.

If the energy it would take isn’t worth my time to change, then it isn’t worthy my time to be angry about.  Seriously; if I don’t care enough to change it, why should I care enough to be angry?

If I do decide it’s worth changing the situation:

(3) Follow through and work towards change.

This is the big one, where energy is spent and you’re committed to holding on to the memory of frustration to propel you through the turbulence of the situation.  The key is that deciding you’re going to change something isn’t the whole story.  You have to actually exert the energy until one of two things happen: (a) the situation changes, or (b) you decide that exerting the energy is no longer worth it, and re-evaluate step 2.

If after this I’m still angry and frustrated, then I need to do some internal monologuing.  I have to ask: why am I angry?  Is this a good anger (yes, there is good anger) and good pain (yes, there is good pain)?

Or am I harboring selfish frustration and expecting some kind of response from other people to make up for my hurt?  If that’s the case then I’d rather just be honest with people and say “I need love” rather than push away what I need with visible anger and frustration.

If I’m still holding to this anger… if I’ve decided that it’s a good element to hold on to… then I do so in prayer.  I keep watch over it by asking God to hold it in check and remind me of when it’s time to let it go.  I try to share my anger with others because some might share the burden while others might remind me of grace.

And then there’s that one left over element of anger and frustration, where I want to turn it into a teaching moment for the offender.  There’s the part of me that wants to send her work tot he professor and let him know how “above and beyond” I went for my group.  The reason isn’t vengeance, but because I truly think that if someone got into a graduate program without knowing how to write a research paper… someone needs to wake them up a bit.

But that’s not my job, it’s the professor’s.  So instead I get to turn this into a teaching moment for myself and spell out a few of my thoughts.  Hello, thoughts.


2 Responses to “Dealing with Anger and Frustration”

  1. Dude, you put a lot of thought into that post, but you might want to check out The Astonishing Power of Emotions by Abraham-Hicks. Vibrationally, hanging on to any anger of frustration as a way to propel change is like kicking the side of a car to make it turn. No worky! Just vibrate happiness and the circumstances will change themselves. Any none of us can teach anyone anything, you can only be at peace and hope people follow your lead.


    A tough word to pronounce and painstakingly difficult to internalize…but oh what achievement & joy to know it has become a part of the real YOU.

    Hi Aaron! Just checking in like I often do since I enjoy your ‘thinking’ and watching you grow in wisdom. On the topic you described today, it rang clear as a bell bringing to mind a recent experience of mine and how I handled it.

    In October I began a new job. Joined a department where many people had been recently fired, fear was rampant among those left and nothing was going right – for any of them. My entrance seemed to strike even more fear, frustration and anger especially in one gentlemen my own age (a bit grey and ah – seasoned!) (over 50)

    He was an ‘old timer’….with great influence among all 5 plants and over 700 employees..and that marvelous ‘Grapevine’ we all know exists as the primary method of real communication in any office. In his mind – he defined that I had come to ‘take his place’. ..and ‘she is the enemy’.

    He quickly influenced the complete department and people on the entire floor. We both arrived at work at 7 am. He never spoke. He blocked, refused to assist or be civil. He ensured that all ‘his army’ also did their best to cold shoulder, block, stonewall and ensure I would choose to go back Out the door as quick as I had come IN the door.

    Well well well………I DO LOVE A CHALLENGE IN LIFE! 🙂
    After having managed over 200 employees in a plant in my lifetime; this was going to be interesting for me……and eventually an ‘eye opener’ for This Guy & his Gang!

    Their behavior continued every day October, November, December, January …etc.

    Did I get angry? Nope
    Did I cry and have hurt feelings ? Nope
    Did I say “forget it – I am not taking this!”.. Nope
    Did I seek and plot revenge…. Nope
    Did I cry to Management? Nope
    Did I smooze to the other employees to gain their acceptance? Nope

    What did I CHOOSE to do? I Chose to simply be Magnanimous

    To exhibit this behavior – over many many long tedious days – I just
    pulled from my experience and training and sensibility…. my tools

    I came in every day at 7 am
    I worked through lunch and left at 3:30
    I exhibited the highest example of ongoing daily Professionalism I could
    My work load included the ‘remainers’ of projects from 1 professional staffer and 2 management personnel who all had been fired.
    I went into all 3 offices – pulled file folders, project folders and began
    I traveled from Michigan to Tennessee working with German colleagues
    I negotiated 8 million dollar deals and made quick progress for the company.

    The first to ‘see the light’ were the German colleagues
    The next to ‘see the light’ was upper management of the company
    (Note that this was not fitting into the plan of The Guy & his Gang)
    So – they ‘upped the pressure’
    Magnanimous – a wonderful word – even more wonderful to exhibit

    When you understand and know yourself & your true worth
    Being true and magnanimous is not that difficult….
    ‘You fly up above the situation – and continue forward”

    Now, after many many months – The Guy – realized his error.
    They Guy had to face TRUTH and see it as reality.
    I was not his enemy after all. The Truth I exhibited to him was,
    simply that I was clearly rising above him and the higher I rose in being magnanimous……….the more awful he and the gang looked ….
    He could not take it any longer an one day blurted out.
    “Well who are you anyway”?
    I replied – “Bert – I am just me….with my lifetime of professional exerience and I understand your feelings…..all this time.”
    “You do not need to ever fear ME – but you do need to fear YOURSELF.”

    Now at 7 am when we arrive to work….he makes a pot of coffee.
    He is telling “the Gang” that ‘Oh I think she is really OK”….and they are coming around too.

    Often in life – Anger can be a boomerang……it can get in the way of
    many things
    Our own growth
    Our own vision
    Our own strength
    Our own ability to rise up and fly………….and be who we can be…..

    Love to All

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