Frustrate: (a verb): to defeat (plans, efforts, etc.); to cause feelings of disappointment in; thwart; to prevent from achieving; bring to nothing, counteract; nullify.
Frustration: (a noun): something that frustrates.
My Mom broke her arm. If this happened to most of us we would have to deal with pain and inconvenience. She walks with a walker. This event derailed her independence in a big way. As the dutiful daughter I wanted to help out. She needed in home rehab; physical therapy and occupational therapy. These services would be beneficial to her safety and hopefully get her back to her previous level of activity. When she saw the doctor he order it for her.
I don’t know why and I probably will never find out but it took over two weeks and multiple phone calls to get the therapist to make that initial home visit. Talk about frustration!
My Mom is amazing. She has approached this whole ordeal with such equanimity. On the other hand I became personally caught up in it. I became emotionally reactive. In the old days I would have totally lost my cool with the inept people I was dealing with. Raising my voice was an automatic response along with other behaviors that are just too embarrassing to admit to. In this instance I had control over what came out of my mouth but my internal dialog was raging. And I felt it physically in my body. Not a good thing. Stress hormones run havoc with your body on a cellular level.
Over the last year and a half I had thought I had come a long way in recognizing the the things I could control and letting go of what I couldn’t. Hubris indeed. It was good to have life remind me.
Relinquishing control is the ultimate challenge of the spiritual warrior.
- The Book of Runes
As I reflected on this situation I realized that what was needed here was self acceptance and self compassion. This a mental and spiritual practice I am in the process of building. I have discovered some tools that have become invaluable to me. Here is what I have learned so far.
Establish a practice of gratitude. When you experience a feeling of gratitude there is no room for self judgement. Practicing this daily gives you the muscle so that self judgment is not the default option when frustrating situations arise.
Pause and recognize the situation for what it is. This requires that you pay attention to how it feels in your physical body. If there is physical sensation happening in your body it means that you are reacting to the circumstances in a very intense way that is traveling through the whole body.
Respond rather than react. When you respond you don’t be come identified with the situation. You acknowledge it for what it is but it is not your identity. It is what it is.
Most importantly, breath. On the inhale say “this” then make the exhale a little bit longer then the inhale say “too”. “This… too…”. Another way of anchoring the breath is to say “Let it” on the inhale and slowly exhale as you say ”be”. “Let it…be…”. Breathing a little bit longer on the exhale signals your body to relax and helps tone down the inner physiologic stress response. Pick a mantra that works for you but keep the phrasing emotionally neutral.
Remember, this approach is just one way to make it through the rough patches of life. It helps with frustrations small and large.
What things have you tried in order to deal with frustrating situations?
BTW Mom now has a physical therapist working with her at home!