Let Your Frustrations Fuel Your Future

Do you often feel like you live between the rock and the hard place?  Maybe a brand new place is just ahead.

Is there an ongoing central frustration in your life?  Maybe it’s THE clue to your future.

So often, what we need to see in order to move forward, is right in front of our faces, disguised as something else.  Frustrations are like that.  They actually are a clear signal of the very thing we don’t want.  So, if we were to turn those around…..voila!  What we DO want becomes crystal clear.

Here’s an example of how this works.

Cary is a client who has given me permission to share her story(with a name change).  She walked through the door, in knots of frustration.  A twitching left eye added emphasis to the level of irritation she was feeling

As we went through the list of all the things that were driving her crazy day to day—-we drew two lines down the page, creating three columns. “Frustrations” in one column on the left. The center column was for “Turn-Arounds” to list the “positive opposite” that would relieve the maddening feelings.  And, in the right hand column, “ACTIONS”, specifically in all caps, to emphazie that SHE had the power to take the necessary steps to create the result in the turn-around section.

Then we prioritized the things making her the most angry, sad, or that drove her just plain nuts.  Those things moved to the top of the list.   “No one ever really listens to me” was the clear winner.  She felt ignored, run over, and generally dismissed by her husband, her kids, her friends, repairmen, waiters—-you name it, she felt like she was talking, requesting, and voicing her opinion in a vacuum.  She wanted to scream.

First, I suggested she do just that.  Screaming is not such a bad thing.  Once we determined a place where she felt safe “let the frustration OUT” she thought she might be ready to give it a try.  This also came after some long discussions about feeling silly.  Realizing that this was being done, where and when, no one else had a clue, she set aside the “need to be nice” and one day……just let it rip.  Phew.  What a relief. (By the way, she now uses uses the “scream-thing” as she calls it, whenever necessary.)

Cary was ready for the next step.  Getting HEARD.

That step was not about demanding change from those around her.  That’s exactly what had made the frustrations worse. FUEL for her future would only come from summoning her own inner power.  From truly listening to her own voice.  She began to see how expending her energy trying to make, manipulate, or manage anybody else’s feelings or reactions, was a set-up for irritation, frustration, and emotional exhaustion. 

Cary wanted to be heard.  Really heard. She wanted people nodding their heads and paying attention.

I suggested trying Toastmasters.  Everyone there wants to be heard.  And everyone there is on board with HEARING each other.  She resisted.  She wanted to be heard at home, in her current life. 

The key was to allow herself to FEEL what being heard feels like…..anywhere.  To fill up her emotional cup with the energy that comes from the feelings of being heard, for sure.  Being clapped for and getting “atta-girls” might be even more of a bonus. 

Three months into Toastmasters, Cary’s face began to change.  The tension that had drawn her mouth into a hard, straight line the first time she came twitching into my office, had released it’s grip.  The corners of her mouth actually began to curve up slightly. The lights had come back on in her eyes.

The next step was to focus on WHAT was most important for HER, to be heard about……and where and how she might find a venue to speak her truth.

What she felt most strongly about was the need for families to have traditions—creating life events and celebrations within the family that would be treasured, honored and repeated.  Maybe she could teach young mothers, who were juggling work, home and family, how to do just that.

She signed up for teaching a class at her church—to young mothers.  They listened.  She offered to teach cooking classes with family celebrations in mind.  Now she had groups, calling her to set up private classes in their homes as well.  Cary was being heard where it counted most…..to her.

Her frustrations weren’t ignored.  They were brought into the light and dealt with, as fuel for her future.  Her own inner-personal turn around also got the attention of her family and friends.  Focusing on the action she needed to take for herself changed the entire dynamic of the way she dealt with others.

It took about two years to go through her whole list of frustrations.  We turned her life upside-down. Rather than letting her frustrations get her down, they became the fuel to propel her life forward.

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