Earlier today I had an appointment. The individual I was to be meeting with was running a good bit late…over 20 minutes late in fact. As I sat waiting, I found myself getting frustrated and all sorts of negative thoughts began to stir inside me.

Before those negative thoughts got too out of hand, I asked myself, “What is it that is frustrating to me?” The obvious answer was to point the finger. This person running late is frustrating to me. But from there, I asked “Why? Why does that frustrate me?”

A few things came to mind:

  • I don’t like it when my time is wasted because I feel taken advantage of
  • I like being productive, and sitting around waiting for someone else isn’t productive
  • I only have a limited amount of time each day and I prefer to be in control of it

These were important observations. By taking a moment to think about the issue hiding underneath the frustration, I was able to keep my frustration in check and handle each item that was bothering me.

Just because this person was late, doesn’t mean they are trying to take advantage. It’s okay, let it go. I always have my phone with me, and there are plenty of things I can take care of with that nifty device. Second issue, resolved. Lastly, I can’t control the world, because it doesn’t revolve around me. Making use of time alone, with joy, is better than being frustrated and focusing on why I think I have a right to be. Done, and back to being productive.

Obviously, some frustrations have more depth to them and greater levels of impact in our lives. This was a simple situation with a relatively simple fix. However, pausing and evaluating what is going on in the moment can help us overcome our negative behavioral responses. And that is oftentimes hardest to do when we are frustrated. Identifying the frustration, learning not to point the finger, and instead, look inwardly to see why we allow something to bother us, moves us one step closer to getting through the frustration effectively and productively.

So, what frustrates you?