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Last Updated on July 8, 2020

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

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

Feeling frustrated with life?

The problem with frustration is that it can cripple in on 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. This doesn’t really give us much of an in-depth explanation of our frustration, so how can we solve this problem?

The reason behind your frustration can be complicated, but we’ve gone over different — yet common — reasons of frustration, because once the source is found, you’ll be able to get right back on track.

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 a frustration into a 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 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 have put a new and bigger pressure on the next generation.

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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 constant 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 breathe and grab 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.

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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 keeps 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.

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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.

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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 afterwards 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

Reference

More by this author

Maria Jensen

Specializes in personal and professional development.

Feeling Frustrated in Life? 8 Ways to Get Back on Track 4 Simple Steps to Start Living a Positive Life Common Fears of Every Job Seeker (and How to Deal with Them) Do You Have a Fear of Disappointing Others? How to Conquer It for Good How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others & Celebrate Your Uniqueness

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Last Updated on October 22, 2020

8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

How would you feel if you were sharing a personal story and noticed that the person to whom you were speaking wasn’t really listening? You probably wouldn’t be too thrilled.

Unfortunately, that is the case for many people. Most individuals are not good listeners. They are good pretenders. The thing is, true listening requires work—more work than people are willing to invest. Quality conversation is about “give and take.” Most people, however, want to just give—their words, that is. Being on the receiving end as the listener may seem boring, but it’s essential.

When you are attending to someone and paying attention to what they’re saying, it’s a sign of caring and respect. The hitch is that attending requires an act of will, which sometimes goes against what our minds naturally do—roaming around aimlessly and thinking about whatnot, instead of listening—the greatest act of thoughtfulness.

Without active listening, people often feel unheard and unacknowledged. That’s why it’s important for everyone to learn how to be a better listener.

What Makes People Poor Listeners?

Good listening skills can be learned, but first, let’s take a look at some of the things that you might be doing that makes you a poor listener.

1. You Want to Talk to Yourself

Well, who doesn’t? We all have something to say, right? But when you are looking at someone pretending to be listening while, all along, they’re mentally planning all the amazing things they’re going to say, it is a disservice to the speaker.

Yes, maybe what the other person is saying is not the most exciting thing in the world. Still, they deserve to be heard. You always have the ability to steer the conversation in another direction by asking questions.

It’s okay to want to talk. It’s normal, even. Keep in mind, however, that when your turn does come around, you’ll want someone to listen to you.

2. You Disagree With What Is Being Said

This is another thing that makes you an inadequate listener—hearing something with which you disagree with and immediately tuning out. Then, you lie in wait so you can tell the speaker how wrong they are. You’re eager to make your point and prove the speaker wrong. You think that once you speak your “truth,” others will know how mistaken the speaker is, thank you for setting them straight, and encourage you to elaborate on what you have to say. Dream on.

Disagreeing with your speaker, however frustrating that might be, is no reason to tune them out and ready yourself to spew your staggering rebuttal. By listening, you might actually glean an interesting nugget of information that you were previously unaware of.

3. You Are Doing Five Other Things While You’re “Listening”

It is impossible to listen to someone while you’re texting, reading, playing Sudoku, etc. But people do it all the time—I know I have.

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I’ve actually tried to balance my checkbook while pretending to listen to the person on the other line. It didn’t work. I had to keep asking, “what did you say?” I can only admit this now because I rarely do it anymore. With work, I’ve succeeded in becoming a better listener. It takes a great deal of concentration, but it’s certainly worth it.

If you’re truly going to listen, then you must: listen! M. Scott Peck, M.D., in his book The Road Less Travel, says, “you cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.” If you are too busy to actually listen, let the speaker know, and arrange for another time to talk. It’s simple as that!

4. You Appoint Yourself as Judge

While you’re “listening,” you decide that the speaker doesn’t know what they’re talking about. As the “expert,” you know more. So, what’s the point of even listening?

To you, the only sound you hear once you decide they’re wrong is, “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah!” But before you bang that gavel, just know you may not have all the necessary information. To do that, you’d have to really listen, wouldn’t you? Also, make sure you don’t judge someone by their accent, the way they sound, or the structure of their sentences.

My dad is nearly 91. His English is sometimes a little broken and hard to understand. People wrongly assume that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about—they’re quite mistaken. My dad is a highly intelligent man who has English as his second language. He knows what he’s saying and understands the language perfectly.

Keep that in mind when listening to a foreigner, or someone who perhaps has a difficult time putting their thoughts into words.

Now, you know some of the things that make for an inferior listener. If none of the items above resonate with you, great! You’re a better listener than most.

How To Be a Better Listener

For conversation’s sake, though, let’s just say that maybe you need some work in the listening department, and after reading this article, you make the decision to improve. What, then, are some of the things you need to do to make that happen? How can you be a better listener?

1. Pay Attention

A good listener is attentive. They’re not looking at their watch, phone, or thinking about their dinner plans. They’re focused and paying attention to what the other person is saying. This is called active listening.

According to Skills You Need, “active listening involves listening with all senses. As well as giving full attention to the speaker, it is important that the ‘active listener’ is also ‘seen’ to be listening—otherwise, the speaker may conclude that what they are talking about is uninteresting to the listener.”[1]

As I mentioned, it’s normal for the mind to wander. We’re human, after all. But a good listener will rein those thoughts back in as soon as they notice their attention waning.

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I want to note here that you can also “listen” to bodily cues. You can assume that if someone keeps looking at their watch or over their shoulder, their focus isn’t on the conversation. The key is to just pay attention.

2. Use Positive Body Language

You can infer a lot from a person’s body language. Are they interested, bored, or anxious?

A good listener’s body language is open. They lean forward and express curiosity in what is being said. Their facial expression is either smiling, showing concern, conveying empathy, etc. They’re letting the speaker know that they’re being heard.

People say things for a reason—they want some type of feedback. For example, you tell your spouse, “I had a really rough day!” and your husband continues to check his newsfeed while nodding his head. Not a good response.

But what if your husband were to look up with questioning eyes, put his phone down, and say, “Oh, no. What happened?” How would feel, then? The answer is obvious.

According to Alan Gurney,[2]

“An active listener pays full attention to the speaker and ensures they understand the information being delivered. You can’t be distracted by an incoming call or a Facebook status update. You have to be present and in the moment.

Body language is an important tool to ensure you do this. The correct body language makes you a better active listener and therefore more ‘open’ and receptive to what the speaker is saying. At the same time, it indicates that you are listening to them.”

3. Avoid Interrupting the Speaker

I am certain you wouldn’t want to be in the middle of a sentence only to see the other person holding up a finger or their mouth open, ready to step into your unfinished verbiage. It’s rude and causes anxiety. You would, more than likely, feel a need to rush what you’re saying just to finish your sentence.

Interrupting is a sign of disrespect. It is essentially saying, “what I have to say is much more important than what you’re saying.” When you interrupt the speaker, they feel frustrated, hurried, and unimportant.

Interrupting a speaker to agree, disagree, argue, etc., causes the speaker to lose track of what they are saying. It’s extremely frustrating. Whatever you have to say can wait until the other person is done.

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Be polite and wait your turn!

4. Ask Questions

Asking questions is one of the best ways to show you’re interested. If someone is telling you about their ski trip to Mammoth, don’t respond with, “that’s nice.” That would show a lack of interest and disrespect. Instead, you can ask, “how long have you been skiing?” “Did you find it difficult to learn?” “What was your favorite part of the trip?” etc. The person will think highly of you and consider you a great conversationalist just by you asking a few questions.

5. Just Listen

This may seem counterintuitive. When you’re conversing with someone, it’s usually back and forth. On occasion, all that is required of you is to listen, smile, or nod your head, and your speaker will feel like they’re really being heard and understood.

I once sat with a client for 45 minutes without saying a word. She came into my office in distress. I had her sit down, and then she started crying softly. I sat with her—that’s all I did. At the end of the session, she stood, told me she felt much better, and then left.

I have to admit that 45 minutes without saying a word was tough. But she didn’t need me to say anything. She needed a safe space in which she could emote without interruption, judgment, or me trying to “fix” something.

6. Remember and Follow Up

Part of being a great listener is remembering what the speaker has said to you, then following up with them.

For example, in a recent conversation you had with your co-worker Jacob, he told you that his wife had gotten a promotion and that they were contemplating moving to New York. The next time you run into Jacob, you may want to say, “Hey, Jacob! Whatever happened with your wife’s promotion?” At this point, Jacob will know you really heard what he said and that you’re interested to see how things turned out. What a gift!

According to new research, “people who ask questions, particularly follow-up questions, may become better managers, land better jobs, and even win second dates.”[3]

It’s so simple to show you care. Just remember a few facts and follow up on them. If you do this regularly, you will make more friends.

7. Keep Confidential Information Confidential

If you really want to be a better listener, listen with care. If what you’re hearing is confidential, keep it that way, no matter how tempting it might be to tell someone else, especially if you have friends in common. Being a good listener means being trustworthy and sensitive with shared information.

Whatever is told to you in confidence is not to be revealed. Assure your speaker that their information is safe with you. They will feel relieved that they have someone with whom they can share their burden without fear of it getting out.

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Keeping someone’s confidence helps to deepen your relationship. Also, “one of the most important elements of confidentiality is that it helps to build and develop trust. It potentially allows for the free flow of information between the client and worker and acknowledges that a client’s personal life and all the issues and problems that they have belong to them.”[4]

Be like a therapist: listen and withhold judgment.

NOTE: I must add here that while therapists keep everything in a session confidential, there are exceptions:

  1. If the client may be an immediate danger to himself or others.
  2. If the client is endangering a population that cannot protect itself, such as in the case of a child or elder abuse.

8. Maintain Eye Contact

When someone is talking, they are usually saying something they consider meaningful. They don’t want their listener reading a text, looking at their fingernails, or bending down to pet a pooch on the street. A speaker wants all eyes on them. It lets them know that what they’re saying has value.

Eye contact is very powerful. It can relay many things without anything being said. Currently, it’s more important than ever with the Covid-19 Pandemic. People can’t see your whole face, but they can definitely read your eyes.

By eye contact, I don’t mean a hard, creepy stare—just a gaze in the speaker’s direction will do. Make it a point the next time you’re in a conversation to maintain eye contact with your speaker. Avoid the temptation to look anywhere but at their face. I know it’s not easy, especially if you’re not interested in what they’re talking about. But as I said, you can redirect the conversation in a different direction or just let the person know you’ve got to get going.

Final Thoughts

Listening attentively will add to your connection with anyone in your life. Now, more than ever, when people are so disconnected due to smartphones and social media, listening skills are critical.

You can build better, more honest, and deeper relationships by simply being there, paying attention, and asking questions that make the speaker feel like what they have to say matters.

And isn’t that a great goal? To make people feel as if they matter? So, go out and start honing those listening skills. You’ve got two great ears. Now use them!

More Tips on How to Be a Better Listener

Featured photo credit: Joshua Rodriguez via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Skills You Need: Active Listening
[2] Filtered: Body language for active listening
[3] Forbes: People Will Like You More If You Start Asking Follow-up Questions
[4] TAFE NSW Sydney eLearning Moodle: Confidentiality

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