Managing Frustration

You know those times where you work hard on something and yet no matter how hard you try or how important it is, it just won’t work? It’s worthwhile focusing on how to manage frustration because unmanaged, it soon becomes anger. Then, before you know it it’s not your challenge that’s the challenge, it’s your state of mind.

Step one is to be more emotionally aware. Don’t be the frustration, realise that it is a product of your use of your consciousness. If you want to change how you feel you need to change what you’re focused on. The frustration emerges from that focus being on your desire. All you start seeing is that a) you want it, and b) you can’t have it. But those are both things that don’t relate to your actual problem, they are judgments regarding your inability to solve it. That’s quite different than tackling the actual solving.

After I’ve noted I’m feeling the emotion, the first thing I try to check for is my two common mistakes: I’m overtired or really hungry. I’m normally better at these, but with my life being very naturally busy at this stage there isn’t as much choice in these matters as I would like. But I can still make sure I rest and eat when it’s most helpful. It’s a challenge I’m actively working on.

Another action to take is to remove yourself temporarily from the problem. Ideally this is to do something entirely unrelated, like spending time playing a game, or walking in nature, seeing loved ones (including pets), as well as things like cooking or other non-word-based activities like gardening or photography. It can even be a 20 minute power nap.

It’s said that Thomas Edison, when stuck on a problem, sat in a rocking chair with a fork pinched between his two fingers, which he hung over a metal pie plate he placed on the floor next to him. As he fell asleep his grasp would ease, the fork would clatter down and Edison would be awakened in a fresh state of mind, having let go all of his previous avenues of thought.

Remember, frustration is the overuse of one area of your mind. You burn it out, and if you’ve been through it exhaustively then the answer just isn’t there. The only thing that prevents you from abandoning the path you’re on is your own self-generated internal dialogue about how much work you don’t want to abandon. That causes your narratives to keep trying to meaninglessly convey the importance of your deadline or the thing itself. It doesn’t matter how important those are if you’re not looking in the right place for your answer. It’s time to accept that reality and regroup and set out in a new direction. Your emotions are guiding you wisely.

After you’ve done your reset, simply relooking at the problem will often present new ideas for solutions. This is where all of your seemingly wasted previous work becomes useful because, by working so hard on figuring something out, you get to know its component parts extremely well. Once you find your path you really can move faster.

Sometimes this needs to be done multiple times on a task. I watched a guy go for about 20 walks on his way to trying to building a model airplane. I remember him telling me that he found it hard to surrender, but he knew from experience that it was better to go for the walks than to smash the airplanes. Indeed, it’s easier if you start the management process before you’ve lost your cool numerous times.

A lot of anger would be avoided if people managed their irritations and frustrations more actively. Work on yours this week. Stay aware of your state of mind and actively manage it to your maximum benefit. You’ll be more productive, happier and you’ll enjoy what you’re doing a lot more. Here’s to a great week for all of you.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations locally and around the world.

Completely You

Your ego spends its time trying to think it’s way through its existence. It wants to find what you perceive as a healthy route through life, and you want your route, not just any route. You imagine there is a tightrope to walk and that you need to work to maintain your balance. The answer always feels outside of you. You do not imagine this tightrope is in fact the entire universe and that you were born balanced.

You’re a terrible procrastinator because you have this fear of not doing it right, or maybe you think it isn’t the right thing for the real you to do. Whatever your ego’s story is, it will always talk to you about its fears or limits. But then the deadline looms too closely and then what happens? Boom. You can work. There is so little time left that you rationally don’t have the time to think about unproductive things, and you zoom through the work. So why can’t you do that the rest of the time?

You keep looking for a route with none of the things that you tend to call mistakes, or problems, or difficulties, or struggle. And in doing so you create for yourself a ton of opportunities for mistakes, problems, difficulties and struggle. Your answer isn’t to do something differently, it’s to feel differently about what you do. All of those so-called challenges are in fact life, and the overcoming of them is living it. Only your layer of egocentric stories makes all of those things personal.

The radical part for you is to imagine your crazy, screwed up life as actually being lived perfectly, where even your questions are a part of your answer. Like the stumbling, bumbling, goofy source of comedy that many smart stories contain, you are in fact perfect in your imperfection.

Indeed the world rolls forward on the basis of you continually trying to make sense of it, but the point isn’t for it to make sense, the point is to enjoy the act of converting its potential into a form of personal sense. That’s how you reconcile everyone’s disparate opinions–you allow them to stay separate. It’s like every drama you’ve ever watched. If it had no conflict to overcome you would never have watched it. Each channel is showing a different drama and yet the only reason anyone watches any of them is for the drama itself.

Can you imagine looking at your life but not feeling personal about it? Can you imagine living it more like your ego is a game piece, than a person? That your ego is merely the character you play in this game? And that it’s an improv piece, so there’s no way for you to get any lines right or wrong, they just lead to something funnier or less funny….?

That’s your life right there. If you can see this whole thing is just one big silly drama that just ends with you leaving the cast, then it all seems less serious. And ironically, by making the “results” of your “life” less serious, you’ll make the living of that life much more profound.

You don’t need to be found, you have never been lost. You don’t need more, you need less. You don’t need to change, you need to realise. Just for today, try to imagine that your life is going perfectly–imagine that even your embarrassing moments or terrible performances are all a part of what you’re supposed to do as an enlightened person. Because that’s true.

There is no way to be outside of this game. All you can do is play or not play. So don’t avoid playing so that you can figure out how to play. Do the crazy-radical thing and accept yourself instead, and all the love you’ll ever need will flow to you when you do.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations locally and around the world.

Making Sense

Order. Pattern. Sense. Understanding. Meaning. Our lives emerge from these things. In fact, you yourself are a pursuit. You are an action through the universe that skips and jumps and hops from here to there, all in an effort to construct or weave a life story that either makes some kind of sense to you, or that you will continue to work on in an effort to make sense of it.

It’s as though everyone is sitting around together weaving, and the threads are made of words that are then stitched into concepts that combine to create a life story. It’s like we weave the whole thing just to show it to other people who did the same. We’re just hanging out together, and yet what we weave takes on a life of its own.

It’s one thing to weave a lonely disconnected character but it’s another thing altogether to think that you are what has been woven. You are the weaving; not the weaver, not the thread, not the needle. You’re the action of weaving. You aren’t a dancer, you’re a dance.

That would be all well and good if you didn’t spend so much of your life wandering from person to person asking them what you should weave, and asking them to explain their own weaving. They will tell you what they’ve learned from their weaving, but only the basic principles are common to all weavers, so it’s not like they can really help you. Your job is to let go and weave what only you would weave, you’re not supposed to become some expert on weaving. Do you understand?

Look at how cloying your brain is about comprehension. You hate not knowing. You dislike confusion, or uncertainty. Your mind seeks order. It wants to understand. But the problem is the wanting, not the understanding. Your life is just a steady pursuit of understanding, but too often people are standing back looking at the shape of that pursuit as though it’s something to be judged. The path and the walker are one.

The good news is, this means your route through life has been neither good nor bad. It was merely the life that emerged from the choices you made, either consciously or unconsciously. Where it went in the end is irrelevant. What counts is that you felt the experience of being alive.

All great dramas are made of many kinds of characters and all play their critical role in the larger plots. Strangely, there is no more merit in playing the hero as there is in playing the villain. We need them all to feel like anything happened, and we will all take a turn (many times) in both roles.

As the comedian Andy Kaufman knew when he created a wrestler for everyone to hate, what we really love is the story. If we can learn to accept that we’re here to weave stories and not to do something important, then we can get on to the important act of weaving, just as Kaufman voluntarily became someone for you to despise. He wasn’t being a jerk. For our benefit, he was just playing one in the drama that is our collective lifetimes.

Stop looking for meaning. Like water, just flow naturally to your own low ground. The pool that forms will be what reflects your life exactly as it should. So stop striving, trying, or wanting. Simply be instead. Let yourself be yourself, and accept who you are, no matter what. Regardless of what your thinking says.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations locally and around the world.