Has anyone ever asked you, “Why are you [so] frustrated?” Have you been asked that question more than once? Perhaps thousands of times.
If that doesn’t make your list of frequently asked questions, stop reading now — this post isn’t for you.
Since you’re still reading, I’m assuming you’re no stranger to frustration. Since we’ve got that in common, let’s explore this topic deeper.
When you hear that question, do you interpret it as a compliment or a complaint? I’ve heard the question a lot in life — seems like about a million times, I’m sure that’s slightly exaggerated. It’s not like I was keeping count or anything.
If you’re anything like me, you most often heard that question as a complaint. It was framed negatively and expressed judgmentally. You know, like a “what’s wrong with you?” accusation. Even when you were asking the question of yourself.
What if the question wasn’t actually an accusation? What if it was an invitation? An invitation to take action? To innovate?
Let me share how the dots finally connected for me.
For decades, I understood frustration as the feeling of being upset or annoyed. That’s probably the most widely held understanding of frustration. It’s also incomplete and, in my opinion, a misunderstanding of what it means to be frustrated.
Being upset or annoyed is a fruit of frustration, not the cause. What then is the root?
Read the rest of the definition: the feeling of being upset or annoyed especially because of inability to change or achieve something. That’s eyeopening. But there’s still more. An expanded definition includes this entry, “the prevention of the progress, success, or fulfillment of something.”
If you ponder that definition of frustration maybe you’ll reach the same conclusion I did — frustration need not be negative.Frustration is rooted in the awareness that your current reality is not living up to your potential reality.Click To Tweet
In other words, there’s a gap between what is and what could be. That’s why you’re frustrated!
Put that another way, it means you see a better, brighter future possible than what you are currently experiencing. That, my friend, is a sign that you are a visionary, an idealist.
It harkens the George Bernard Shaw idea popularized by Robert F. Kennedy,
Some men see things as they are and say, why; I dream things that never were and say, why not.
What’s really going on when you’re frustrated is you see a gap between what is and what could be. Seeing that gap creates tension. That’s the source of your frustration.
Now you know. Now you have a choice.
Will you express your frustration as anger and annoyance which results in friction and thwarts your progress even more? Or will you channel it as fuel for innovation and change?
What’s frustrating you most now? How can you close the gap?