10 out of 10 dinosaurs agree that Tyrannosaurus Rex was one frustrated and angry SOB. Why was he such a stressed-out jerk? One theory is that his arms were too short to reach his… You get the idea.
It could also be that T-Rex didn’t have a game plan for handling the frustration that arose if his prey escaped or he wanted to pleasure himself. Thankfully, there is a better option for us guys when the Prius driver suddenly cuts you off in bumper to bumper traffic. You don’t have to get frustrated and angry like T-Rex and bite their roof off. One of the very best things you can do for your mental and physical health is to adopt strategies for handling frustration when it rises up. Here’s how:
Expect and roll with the punches
Guys pride themselves on making constant progress and getting things done. Trouble is, life gets in the way sometimes. The key is to develop a mindset that expects roadblocks and rolls with them. One easy way to do this is to close your eyes and focus on taking 3 deep breaths whenever you feel frustration building. Frustration and anger can build very quickly, after all, and breaking that momentum can keep you in your right mind. By doing this consistently until it becomes a habit, your frustration tolerance will improve considerably.
Know your triggers and laugh at them
Frustration triggers anger, and anger shuts off the rational part of your brain. Before you know it, you’re in fight or flight mode. From there it’s just a short hop to full-blown T-Rex rage.
Get to know what triggers you. It might be other drivers. Dinner with your father-in-law or your partner always wants you to mow the lawn when the big game is on. You get the idea. Once you know where your frustration hotspots are, mentally practice the situations that set you off and then – wait for it – laugh at them. Laughter really is the best medicine in these situations. By finding the humour in your reactions, as hard as that maybe sometimes, your brain and body chemistry changes and your frustration and anger will rapidly fade.
Don’t just do something, stand there!
You read that right: sometimes all it takes to stay in control is to pause and put some space between your trigger and your response. It can be difficult to shut off the instantaneous response to our triggers, especially with that surge of intense emotion coming on at warp speed. But with awareness, you can learn to take control of what you do with that emotion. If you are aware of how you react when things go wrong, you can see it coming like an early warning system that gives you a choice in how you respond.
Commit to simply feeling frustration for 10 seconds without doing anything, and then take a few deep breaths. Just staying in the awareness of frustration without the knee-jerk reaction of anger will increase your frustration tolerance immensely, and keep you from doing something you might regret.
Right now, doctor’s orders
While chronic frustration and anger have been linked to all kinds of physical and emotional illnesses, they can actually be helpful when you need to overcome an obstacle. The key is control, which can be gained by increasing your frustration tolerance. Get up close and personal with your frustration. Really get to know what it feels like. Count on it to show up from time to time, and know what’s going to trigger it. Then make light of it, and remember: you have the power to choose a response you can feel good about!
Guys, what are your top 2 frustration triggers that can turn you into a Jerk-O-Saurus? Share them in the comment section below.
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Dr Russell Kennedy aka “The Anxiety MD” is a medical doctor and neuroscientist who focuses on using brain science to help people rise above anxiety and emotional overwhelm. A recovered burned out stress case himself, his passion lies in showing ways of living life with more true feeling and less false thinking. For more than 10 years, Russ was a doctor by day and pro stand-up comedian by night. He knows about stress, he once had to do a stand-up gig at a funeral. (no joke) Dr Russ will show you new ways of processing so you will be able to SEE your stress, so you don’t have to BE your stress.