The Focus on Frustration.
Last week I shared a little about the stress of being too busy. There are times when we just need to take a break from the bustle and remember God rested on the seventh day, Jesus took time to be alone and yes even we need to rest on occasion.
But what about those times when you just can’t take the break? You know when a major project is due, you’ve got to meet a deadline, work through the weekend, stay up all night and skip your beach plans. (That last one really stings.)
And doesn’t it seem like that’s the time when your car gets a flat, you didn’t budget correctly and now your broke, your company is experiencing layoffs, you can’t take a day off and your kids are acting crazy? When it’s out of control like that, doesn’t it feel like even the little things seem gigantic. I took a picture of the lake today and my camera zoomed in on my coffee cup instead. It was not a big deal at all but it was another added frustration to a bunch of built up frustrations. That insignificant little picture sent visions of me hurling my phone into the lake. I didn’t. But I wanted to enough that I imagined it for a moment. Moments like that I just want to sit on the beach with my feet in the sand, my nose in a book and let the peaceful sound of the ocean lull me out of reality.
Some days I don’t think even that would be enough. In fact lately the little breaks I have taken haven’t reduced the incredible amount of frustration I have been feeling. I have been so frustrated that I took the time to look up the word to try to figure out if that’s what I’ve really been feeling. Frustration is defined as: the feeling of being upset or annoyed, especially because of inability to change or achieve something. Well that certainly hit the nail on the head. The example sentence used reads,”I sometimes feel like screaming with frustration.” Can I get an Amen? Have you ever waited until you were in an area where there were no other cars on the road just so you could scream and not alarm other drivers? (No? Me either.)
Sometimes the breaks we get aren’t when we need them and when we need them, well we just can’t catch the break. So how do we muster through without having a complete mental breakdown? I’m learning to ask myself some questions. For one, is this in some way a result of a choice I have made in the past? If so, I need to muster up the courage to deal with it. Moving forward I can make better choices and stay aware of bad habits. Is there anything I can do to change it? Sometimes we can set a schedule, set better boundaries, or remove some to dos that don’t really need to get to-done. We need to be realistic, we’re not going to lose 20lbs in a day, but we can make right choices everyday that will lead to weight loss over time. That’s true with almost everything. The most effective question I found was asking myself what am I spending a lot of energy on that’s producing little results? Maybe that’s the project that should wait for a more appropriate time? For me, recognizing that I’m spinning my wheels in a lot of places but not getting anywhere has helped me to pick the things that I should be focusing on instead of the things I can’t change. I’m able to see frustration for what it really is, a distraction from the things that I can be accomplishing and changes I can make to dissolve some of the frustration I feel. Besides eventually the frustration like most emotions, will pass, so why exert a ton of energy trying to resolve something that will resolve on its own anyway? In hind sight I can see now the changes I could have made and will now incorporate to keep frustration at bay.
I might not be able to change a project deadline or company layoffs but I can change my focus. Remember the picture I took of my coffee cup today? I readjusted the camera to focus on the lake and although the coffee cup remained in the picture it isn’t the main focus. It may be a simplistic example but it helped me realize that frustration can be a good thing. It can be the sign that we need to change something. It can be the catalyst that motivates us to change. Sometimes the change that needs to happen is a change of focus.
Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.