Effective Strategies for Managing Emotional Frustration

Effective Strategies for Managing Emotional Frustration

Have you ever been so frustrated you just want to throw a tantrum like a 2-year-old by writhing around on the floor and screaming? I have.

What caused my recent frustration and resulting desire to behave like a toddler? I called a customer service number for some help with their website, essentially some IT assistance.

I explained my situation and was told that Department A could not help me. It was up to Department B to solve my issue. They generously transferred to me Department B. After being verified that I was who I said I was, I was told they could not help me, and Department C would be able to help. I graciously accepted being transferred to Department C, told my story once again, and was verified yet another time. With Department C, we did some troubleshooting, only to determine that everything in the “system” was correct. They had done all they could and told me I needed to go back to Department A.

It was at this point that I started getting frustrated. I had been through 3 departments, told my story 3 times, and was verified 3 times only to be told I had to return to the first department that could not help me in the first place.
Does this scenario sound familiar? Have you had expectations of resolving an issue or needed help only to be passed from one person to another? Or have you been working on a project that didn’t move along? Or your grief is causing more stress and your tolerance for frustration is low?

This was not the end of being transferred from one department to another. I was transferred 3 more times, each time with the same answer, “You need to talk to Department X. As my troubleshooting phone call grew to a 70-minute merry-go-round, I found it extremely difficult to contain my wrath. I felt my tone of voice getting angry and louder. I knew I was getting frustrated and even shared it with the 6th person I spoke with. I could tell our conversation was upsetting her.

Once I realized my interaction was not the way I wanted it to be, I stopped and took a deep breath. It wasn’t her I was angry with. It was the situation. I started my phone call with the expectation that it would be a quick and easy fix. I ran into an unexpected roadblock – that my problem was unique and that truly, no one knew how to fix it. That became obvious with the 6th person. As she and I talked about the problem, she offered to submit a “ticket” to have IT look into the problem. I had her read back to me what she was going to include in her notes because I wanted to make it very clear to IT what had been done already. We completed the troubleshooting and everything in the system was correct. It was two systems that were not talking to each other.

Frustration is an emotional response to stress that can come from relationships, work, school, or home. It is doing your best to solve a problem and not finding a solution. It can affect your emotional and physical well-being.

Signs of Frustration

As with any emotion or situation, we will react and respond to them uniquely. However, some of the common signs of frustration include:
Feeling annoyed
Less patience
Difficulty sleeping
Lack of motivation

Causes of Frustration

Frustration tends to happen when things don’t go as planned or expected. You might be putting effort into a project and the results are not what you wanted. Common causes of frustration:
Lack of support
Difficult relationships
Challenges at work and home

Frustration and Your Health

Increased blood pressure: possibly evolving into cardiac arrest or stroke.
Pessimism over-optimism: only seeing the negative
Unhealthy behaviors: turning to alcohol, drugs, or self-sabotaging eating.
Fatigue: unusually high

How to Deal with Frustration

You can start by taking these steps:
Identify it is happening. As I mentioned above, in the interaction with the 6th person on my troubleshooting phone call, I called myself out on it. I took a moment, paused, and took a deep breath.

Focus on gratitude – not frustration. I thanked the final person and told her I appreciated that she offered to submit a ticket. Nobody else had offered to do it. I also told her she would be my hero if submitting the ticket would solve my issue. It didn’t matter it could take 3-5 business days. She took my problem and instead of passing me around, she offered a solution.

Let your mind be healed from endorphins produced from exercise.
Talk through it with a trusted friend then let it go. Don’t hold onto the experience and let it control your future thoughts and behaviors.

This experience is not one I wish to repeat – because of my reaction. Each of the 6 people whom I spoke with were doing their best to help me. I believe my level of frustration escalated due to some other stressors in my life. Knowing that I am at an increased risk, I need to remember in the future to be calm, take a deep breath and realize that there is a possibility that my IT questions will not be resolved quickly.






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