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Positive Thinking

Feeling Frustrated in Life? 8 Ways to Get Back on Track

Written by Maria Jensen
Specializes in personal and professional development.
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Feeling frustrated with life?

The problem with frustration is that it can cripple anyone, but it can be hard to pinpoint exactly where it comes from.

What is frustration really? If we ask the dictionary, it tells us it’s the feeling of being upset or annoyed as a result of being unable to change or achieve something.

Frustration is a natural emotional response to stress. Most people experience it when they are dealing with situations that they cannot control. It is a feeling that is experienced when one is annoyed or upset about something or someone.

The reason behind your frustration can be complicated. This doesn’t really give us much of an in-depth explanation of our frustration, so how can we solve this problem?

The Most Common Causes of Frustration

There are a lot of things that can trigger feelings of frustration. And they include:

1. Poor Communication

One of the major causes of frustration and anger is poor communication. In most instances, people fail to communicate in a way that others can understand. You’ve probably heard your friends or colleagues in the workplace complaining when people fail to listen to them attentively.

People will claim that they are listening to what you are saying. However, they’ll focus on other elements in their environment because you haven’t articulated your message in a way that listeners will easily understand.


You need to be clear when you are describing your needs and wants to other people. You also need to listen attentively to others to understand the message that is being conveyed. Most of the problems that you face every day can be easily solved with clear communication.

2. Differing Experiences

If you’ve been trying to figure out the cause of your frustration, you need to think of the different experiences that we go through every day. Every human being sees their world differently. We were raised differently and we all experience life differently. And these experiences are among the things that make us unique.

Two people will perceive and interpret a similar event differently. For instance, if you grew in an environment where everyone smoked cigarettes, you are likely to join the herd or become repulsed by the habit completely. There are a lot of factors that shape what we become. And this leads to frustration because we can never see the world in the same way.

3. Slow or Lack of Progress

Another common cause of frustration is slow or lack of progress. Human beings have been programmed to grow and evolve. We work so hard every day so that we can increase our incomes and build our careers.

We get into relationships to get married and have families. When there is slow or lack of progress in any area of our lives, it’s natural to experience feelings of frustration.


How to Recognize if a Person Is Frustrated

Frustration manifests in a wide range of ways. You can easily spot a frustrated individual. Frustrated people usually become stressed and irritable. There are physical and mental signs of frustration.

Physical Signs of Frustration

  • Insomnia
  • Turning to alcohol and other drugs
  • Intentional starvation and other forms of bodily abuse

Mental Signs of Frustration

  • Giving up
  • Low self-esteem
  • Feeling anxious
  • Aggression

Types of Frustration

There are four common types of frustration namely:

1. Personal Frustration

Our personal life determines our attitude and experiences. Personal frustration starts with our expectations. We expect a lot from ourselves and others. We want others to do things perfectly. However, perfection is a myth. Therefore, expecting perfection from ourselves or others will lead to frustration and dissatisfaction in life.

2. Conflicting Frustration

In our modern world, conflicts arise every day at our homes, in workplaces, and among strangers. Most people live under immense pressure that their personal life and work become the reason for frustration.

People walk around with a negative mood and a small push is all that’s needed to evoke feelings of anger and frustration. Therefore, you need to look for ways to handle such feelings positively. Having a positive mental attitude can go a long way in promoting your health and wellbeing.

3. Pressure Frustration

There is a big difference between pressure and motivation. Today, leaders and managers are doing their best to motivate their workers to boost the productivity and performance of the organization.

Motivation is positive as it encourages people to work harder and understand their true capabilities. Pressure frustration arises when there’s a lot of work that needs to get done in a short period. Wasting time and trying to do everything in the eleventh hour can also lead to pressure frustration.


4. Environment Frustration

Our environment determines the experiences that we have and our states of mind. People who live in a joyful and positive environment usually have an easy time staying positive even when things don’t happen as they had anticipated. On the other hand, people who live in a harsh and negative environment tend to experience feelings of anger and frustration regularly.

8 Ways to Overcome Frustration

1. Make Your Failure a Lesson

A failure has as a way of shifting our mentality to a sense of lack. It’s normal to get frustrated by a failure. We’re often hit by one failure after another, which understandably leads to frustration.

Instead of seeing it as a failure, you should take a note from Thomas Edison’s as he said:

” …didn’t fail, [but] …discovered 10,000 ways that didn’t work.”

We’re tested every day with small as well as big things, but even if we don’t succeed, we’ll be able to learn from it.

By changing your perspective on failure, you’ll be able to turn an obstacle into an opportunity. A failure can go from frustration into stronger willpower, but it all starts by seeing it as the beginning instead of the end.

2. Focus on Today

These days, anxiety is one of the most common mental health disturbances experienced by youth. [1] While anxiety can’t be explained or simplified by one thing, it’s been known that the pressure on creating the right future and the perfect life has put new and bigger pressure on the next generation.

While it’s important to create and plan a future, you shouldn’t let the frustration of not knowing what’s ahead of you destroy your mood. It can overwhelm anyone to stress about tomorrow, next year, and ten years from now.


Rather than constantly focusing on what’s coming, you should focus on today. Today is the one day you have. You can’t go back and you can’t take control over any other day. Today is the day; you can do anything and nothing.

Take a moment to practice breathing exercises to stay in the present moment and make the most out of the opportunities you have today. If you’ve been putting off something, then do it today. If you haven’t had fun for a while, because you’ve been too frustrated and focused on tomorrows problems, then take the day off and have some fun. Today is the only day that you have actual control of.

3. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

We live in a competitive world, which isn’t exactly breaking news, but after the rise of social media, we’ve added fuel to the fire.[2]

Twenty years ago, we would look at our neighbour’s new car or look at their picket fence and compare it to our own. Today, we compare ourselves to celebrities, old classmates and strangers on social media.

Once we go online, we get instant access to other people’s lives. While it can be like a free entertainment magazine, it’s important to remember — like the magazines — it’s a blurred reality. At this point, most of us know we’re looking at a filtered reality, but we still get competitive and frustrated by small things like the lack of likes. [3]

Go offline for a week or two. Obviously, we live in a world where we can’t just remove our phone from our lives. We still need to be able to get in contact with our family, friends and work, but you can delete all your social media apps on your phone.


A break from the online chatter might be exactly what you need to get back on track and feel good again. It might be hard in the beginning as we’re programmed by habits, but once you get through some days without constantly reaching for your phone to look at the likes and shiny red notifications, you’ll feel better and be able to let go of unnecessary frustration.

4. You’re Stuck in a Rut – Break Free of It

The problem with being stuck in a rut is that almost everyone goes through it, but it’s hard to pinpoint where our frustration comes from with this one.

It doesn’t really matter what kind of life you’re living. In the end, we all get bored by doing the same thing over and over again.

It can be tricky because you can be perfectly happy with your life, but still feel like you’re stuck in a rut.

Daily routines are what keep us going, but it’s also what eventually slows us down and dries us up.

This doesn’t mean that you should quit your job, leave your family and buy a one-way ticket to somewhere far, far away immediately. The frustration can be let go of by adding something new to your life or letting go of something no longer meaningful to you.

Try doing something that you always wanted to do but feel like you couldn’t, because the reality of it is — you can.


5. Appreciate What You Have

Most humans are programmed to always look for improvement — how can we improve our relationship, work, and ourselves? Sometimes, we get so focused on what we’re missing that we lose sight of what we have.

It’s okay to strive for more and allow the emotion of frustration to hit you, but let it be a quick reaction rather than a state of mind.

It’s easy to lament on what you want, but take a look at what you have for a second instead.

Let’s say you’re struggling with either work, family or friends. Let’s assume one of them isn’t working out at all at the moment. Then look at the other things you have going for you. Ask yourself: Do you have a good life overall? Do you appreciate what you have around you?

You’re most likely to find at least one thing in your life that you appreciate. Focus on the good and let the feeling of appreciation in.

6. Regain Power if You’re Feeling Powerless

We enjoy being in control, but there is always something you can’t control. It could be the weather, someone at work, a friend of ours; which leads us to feel powerless.

It would be great (and easy) if you could just remove yourself from the situation that makes you feel powerless; unfortunately, that’s not always an option.


The cold hard truth is we can’t control everything. The good news is we do have the power to control some stuff. Try to regain power in another aspect of your life, which you’re actually able to have a say in.

Things like other people’s emotions towards us and sickness are two things out of many that are out of our control. Don’t fight a lost battle. Find something you can control.

It can be simple things like setting a fitness goal or learning a new language, or it might be bigger things like quitting your job or getting out of a toxic relationship.

You’ll realize you aren’t powerless by taking back power somewhere you actually can.

7. Acknowledge Old Pain or Trauma

Life isn’t fair. We’re not born into the same types of life and we’re not dealt the same cards. Some may have experienced trauma in their childhood, which we’ve never dealt with. Others may have some old pain left in them from a bad experience.

The frustration from unsolved problems will lead you to feel bad without knowing why. The only way to move past it is by dealing with your past.


This doesn’t necessarily mean that you should spend hours with a therapist (though there’re times that you may need a therapist or life coach for help), but by simply acknowledging your pain, it can set you free.

By getting a better understanding of yourself, your emotions, and your reactions to certain situations, you’ll be able to let go of the frustration.

Try these steps to help you let go of the painful past.

8. Face Your Fear

Frustration can be a reaction to fear. Fear can be a big scary thing but it can also be a small thing that’s been building up.

It may have started with a small task, but by pushing it back for a long time, it becomes bigger and bigger and it ends up creating fear and frustration inside you. These common fears can hold you back.

The only thing you can do to fight your fear is to start taking baby steps today and do the thing you’re scared of. It’s almost never as bad as we think and afterward you’ll end up feeling free and lifted.

This article about fight fear will help you too:

How to Overcome Your Irrational Fears (That Stop You from Succeeding)

Final Thoughts

Frustration can be caused by many things, but the one thing it has in common is that it can cripple us and set our daily life out of track.

It’s okay to feel frustrated, but the sooner you understand where the frustration comes from, the sooner you’ll know how to get rid of it.


More Tips to Help You Get Back on Track

Featured photo credit: Jeffrey Wegrzyn via unsplash.com


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