3 Oddball Ways to Eliminate Frustration and Get Moving Forward Again
The following is a guest post from Quinn Eurich
It happens. You know it, and you dread it. It’s the stuck-in-the-mud-up-to-your-armpits kind of frustration.
It’s where nothing will get you the results you want.
You know you should walk away for a few hours or even a day, but you can’t let it go.
Your fear reminds you that if you miss this deadline, you’re royally screwed.
Your inner critic scorns you for not being able to deliver the goods.
Your shame taunts you with all the ways you’ll be humiliated.
With this chorus whipping you on, you push forward. There’s some headway, but it’s not good. If you were honest instead of desperate, you’d say it sucks.
You’ve done the best you know how, but it’s not enough. That’s because your inflexible expectations demand so much of you.
But the good news is, it’s not your fault!
The Root of Your Frustrations
Those high expectations that are running your life? They’re probably the fault of premature cognitive commitments that happened when you were young.
According to Ellen J. Langer, Ph.D., the first woman ever to be tenured in psychology at Harvard, “Premature cognitive commitments are like photographs in which meaning rather than motion is frozen.”
As a kid, you picked up all sorts of ideas and information and made sense out of them as best you could. Interpretations that didn’t get corrected turned into filters through which you viewed the world.
As a child, you learned that responsible adults do specific things and behave in certain ways. It’s that image and your interpretation of it that still operate in your life today.
It’s what helped create your expectations by filtering out everything unless it matched that image.
It’s what made your expectations inflexible and demanding because new information that could modify them was ignored.
It’s when those expectations don’t get met that frustration sets in. It deepens as you keep pushing, and it becomes cold and chilling as you realize you’re getting nowhere.
Your inner chorus gets frenzied and louder until you can’t think straight.
Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be that way.
Your Long-Lost Inner Child to The Rescue
If what you’re doing isn’t getting you what you want, the solution is simply to do something different.
The following three oddball methods are the something different you need to do.
Just one thing though . . . to use them, you’ll need to call upon someone you probably haven’t been in touch with for a long time.
But not to worry, they’ll be happy to help.
That’s because some of the oddball techniques are as natural to your inner child as breathing.
Does your stomach clench with fear at the thought of letting your inner child run wild and free? Not to worry. These methods have their own adult versions.
Oddball Method #1: Energized Frustration Buster
Inner Child Version: Throw a Tantrum!
Kids throw themselves into tantrums because they know of no other way to express their feelings and frustration.
Their tantrums are expressions of emotions that refuse to be blocked, redirected or affected by a parent’s embarrassment.
In adulthood, a tantrum is the cry of your strangled soul bursting loose from the stifling imprisonment of your expectations.
Give yourself over to its resounding release.
Stomp your feet! Pound on the wall! Voice your defiant refusal to accept the defeat that frustration tells you is imminent!
Feel the primal energy surge through you like a tidal wave smashing through everything in its path. As it recedes and takes with it all the broken fragments of your emotional prison, lean wearily but proudly against the wall.
Though your task still needs doing, the frustration that clouded your mind is gone, and you’ll be looking at your task with new eyes.
Can’t cut loose in this way? Then try the following tamer technique.
Adult Version: Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) a.k.a. Tapping
Tapping is a method based on ancient Chinese medicine where you use your fingers to tap on acupressure points throughout your face and upper body.
It’s designed to help you get in touch with and release blocked energy or chi and troublesome emotions.
Multiple rounds of the tapping are done while you describe the problem and your feelings about it out loud. Then you zero in on what’s frustrating you.
The tapping helps you release the energy caused by your frustrations, and it enables you to consider alternative ways of handling the problem.
I’ve used it successfully over the years for everything from breaking through frustration to figuring out the emotional basis of the anxiety that won’t be talked away.
Once you learn the process, it’s easy to do, and the following video will give you an idea of what it looks like.
It may not be as energetic as a temper tantrum, but it does get the job done. You can learn more at my favorite site www.thetappingsolution.com or simply search on “EFT Tapping.”
Oddball Method #2: Unselfconscious Exploration
Inner Child Version: Play in the Mud!
When kids play in the mud, they’re exploring and wondering. Yes, they want to create an outcome. Their focus, however, is on what they’re doing and what happens as a result of their efforts.
They’re exploring cause and effect.
How much fun would it be to approach life in that uncomplicated way again?
Try and remember a time from your childhood when you were totally absorbed in exploring. Did smelly ponds call to you, or was it turning over rocks to see what would wiggle away?
Perhaps you liked trying to find as many four-leaf clovers as you could.
Instead of just taking a trip down memory lane, go and explore. Smelly ponds, rocks, and lawns are everywhere, and dirt plus water is mud.
Exploring for the sake of satisfying your curiosity is a great way to put you in the right mindset for retackling your project.
By disengaging from a specific outcome, you can explore and uncover new options and possibilities.
If it’s too hard to give yourself over to this kind of freewheeling approach, then maybe this next technique will be more your speed.
Adult Version: The Slow-Walk and Capture Technique
With this method, instead of freeing yourself to follow where your thoughts lead you, you’re freeing your thoughts from your expectations.
What you’ll be doing is creating a space where all your thoughts and ideas are welcome, whether related to your problem or not. That’s because you can never tell what will lead you to the aha-moment you need.
Begin by setting up a writing space with paper and pen on top of a counter. Make sure the counter’s high enough so that you have to stand up to write.
Walk away slowly either around the house or back and forth in the same room as your writing space.
As you take one slow step, breathe in. With the next step, breathe out. Focus on keeping that rhythm going.
When you’re settled into the walking routine, notice what thoughts arise. Do not censure them. Instead, walk slowly back to your writing space and write them down.
Just let the thoughts flow from your mind to the pen to the paper.
What you write is unimportant and so is the length. Don’t review what you’ve written. When the last thought is done, put the pen down, and resume walking and breathing.
Keep walking and writing until no more thoughts come.
Take a break, have some tea or water, and sit quietly for a few minutes. Tune in to how you’re feeling, and notice that your frustration is gone or greatly reduced.
Only then read over what you’ve written, and discover the ideas and insights this method has turned up for you.
Oddball Method #3: Einstein’s Secret Weapon
Inner Child Version: Play a game of pretend!
You’ve seen how children submerge themselves into their imaginations. They entertain themselves with it. They take toys and setup situations to both explore and make sense of their world. They talk to dolls and dogs and cats.
Some of the ideas kids come up with would impress and delight Albert Einstein because he placed a high value on imagination.
“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”
Getting out of your element, playing pretend, and physically interacting with blocks and toys to work out your problem can be liberating.
But if you can’t quite see yourself doing that, perhaps this next method will let loose your imaginative genius.
Adult Version: Genius Talking Technique
Have an imaginary conversation with your favorite fictional hero, a person you admire (living or dead), a guardian angel, shaman, or even someone from the future.
The beauty of this imaginative process is that you’re talking to someone who is actually listening to you.
They’re not interrupting you or pushing a solution on you. They are listening to what you have to say, and they’re being quiet observers when your fears and feelings come out.
Choose a person or character that you think can relate best to the problem you’re trying to solve. If you can’t think of one, go for an omniscient being of some kind.
Don’t focus on trying to get a solution. By doing so, your mind will automatically start filtering out alternatives that run counter to what it knows.
Instead, set your intention to receive insights and get different points-of-view. Being introduced to something new and non-solution-oriented will help open your mind to possible alternatives.
Make starting your imaginary conversation easier by distracting your rational mind with routine tasks. I usually start talking to Tony Stark/Iron Man while doing the dishes or when I’m driving somewhere.
Begin talking aloud as you would to a real person. Explain everything to them: the problem, the need for the outcome you want, what you’ve done so far, and what frustrates you.
Talk to them about your expectations of yourself and other people.
Share with them your fears and feelings.
Pause as you would in any conversation and mentally listen to what your helper has to say.
Spontaneous questions and insights will pop into your head. Take note of them and the intuitive leaps you’ll notice your mind making.
Why These Oddball Frustration Eliminators Work
Ellen Langer knows why. It’s because, “Those who can free themselves of old mindsets . . . who can open themselves to new information and surprise, play with perspective and context, and focus on process rather than outcome are likely to be creative, whether they are scientists, artists, or cooks.”
The operative word is play. It’s what children do so naturally, and they do it with all that they are.
The inner child processes give you that whole-body experience. With them, you can let yourself go and let your feelings, curiosity, and imagination lead the way.
You can play and open yourself to being surprised and even learning something new.
But for many grown-ups, that unbridled freedom and opening yourself to the unknown can be unpleasant. Attempting to give yourself over to anything that lacks structure may actually inhibit your creativity rather than encourage it.
That’s why for some people, the structured, adult versions can work better.
But you won’t know until you give them a try – all of them! Mix and match adult and inner child versions. Play with them.
Let your inner child help you have fun with figuring out different ways of doing them and using them. Make substitutions: wild dancing for tantrums, homemade clay for mud, 3D puzzles for blocks.
What have you got to lose?
Or maybe the better question is: What can these oddball techniques help you achieve?
Just imagine the possibilities.
Quinn Eurich is a freelance writer and storyteller who agrees with Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot that the truth is within, not without.
Her website, OutsmartingPanicAndAnxiety.com, provides methods and techniques to help people reclaim their power from these two tyrants. You can pick up your free copy of her 10 Tips to Outsmart Anxiety (Whatever the Situation) by, clicking here.