In Wednesday’s posting I explained how low frustration tolerance could prevent you from achieving your dreams.
Don’t think, however, that there is anything wrong with getting frustrated. It’s going to happen, to all of us. The problem arises when the way we act in response to the frustrating circumstance gets in the way of us achieving our goals.
No one is sure why people react differently to frustration. Victor Maslow created the hierarchy of needs which provides an overview of why people do the things they do. He opined that earlier gratification in one’s life made one more able to tolerate frustration.
“People who have been satisfied in their basic needs throughout their lives, particularly in their earlier years,” he wrote, “seem to develop exceptional power to withstand present or future thwarting of these needs simply because they have strong, healthy character structure as a result of basic satisfaction. They are the ‘strong’ people who can easily weather disagreement or opposition, who can swim against the stream of public opinion and who can stand up for the truth at great personal cost.”
Wouldn’t it be great if we could all be one of those people? But even if we aren’t, even if we suffer from low frustration tolerance, here are three strategies we can use to increase our tolerance for frustration:
Strategy 1. Change our attitudes about frustration.
It’s been theorized that some people have low tolerance for frustration because they think if they don’t get their way or if things don’t go the way they are supposed to, the consequences will be horrible. If you feel that way, you need to change that attitude. Being an intentional person means you chose your response. Give yourself permission to experience the frustration, and then move on. Tell yourself, “It’s not the way I want it, but it is tolerable. Even though it makes me disappointed, even though it makes me annoyed, I can tolerate it. I do not need to avoid it. I do not need to structure my life so I do not experience frustration. Frustration is not going to kill me.”
Strategy 2. Balance the long term and the short term.
This strategy also involves being intentional. It requires that you look at what is frustrating you. Often you will find out that the frustration involves your desire for short term satisfaction, at the detriment of your long term goals. When you see that not getting the short term desire may actually improve your life, in the long term, the frustration will not be as great.
Strategy 3. Play with frustration
This third strategy involves you intentionally putting yourself in situations in which you are likely to encounter frustration. The purpose is for you to experience frustration so you see, though it may be uncomfortable and inconvenient, it is not going to kill you. You certainly would prefer that things are different, that things were as they were supposed to be, but you can live with them the way they are.
There is hope for you even if you have not had the earlier gratification that creates people with high tolerance for frustration. By practicing these three strategies, you can become one of the strong people that Victor Maslow wrote about.