Frustration is a part of life. Daily life is full of irritations large and small: being cut off in a queue, put on hold, or realising you overpaid for an item, clashing with a boss or friend. Like water behind a dam, they can build up until we reach breaking point and use unhealthy coping mechanisms – like yelling, or eating a whole bar of chocolate.
We can’t avoid everything that causes frustration, but we can find positive ways to deal with it – and transform our experience of daily life. These three practices are not about “building a better dam” to suppress your feelings but about transforming your perspective to truly free yourself from frustration.
Appreciate what you have
The philosopher Epictetus said a person can only lose what he or she has – in other words, even our frustrations are grounded in blessings. If you come back to your car to find a parking ticket, take a moment to consider that you are fortunate to own a car, and have the health and ability to drive it. This mindset is especially helpful in relationships. When (inevitably) you are annoyed with your partner, friend or child, think about how blessed you are to have that person in your life.
Practice constructive empathy
Empathy is being able to see things from another person’s perspective. Unfortunately, it tends to dissipate in situations where we feel wronged or short-changed. This is why the discipline of constructive empathy is so important. The next time someone – whether a stranger, shop assistant, or colleague – bugs you, stop and put yourself in his or her shoes. Really think about how they feel and how they might perceive the interaction. This is a profound way of acknowledging someone as a fellow human, and even if it doesn’t solve the situation, it will free you to experience it with compassion and understanding.
The stronger you are physically, the stronger you become mentally. As yoga builds endurance and stamina in the body, it strengthens our mental and emotional fortitude. Every time you step into a yoga studio, you are developing discipline and patience. Every time you hold that posture a half-second longer, you are training yourself to withstand difficulties. Every time you fall out of a posture and get back in, you are reminding yourself that setbacks are temporary. Not only that, the regenerating, energising, calming effects of yoga make you more resilient to frustration in the first place!