What frustrates you? Bad drivers? Repetitive noises? Stupid people in large groups? All of the above? Like so many other things in life, frustration itself isn’t the problem. It’s what you do because you’re frustrated that can be damaging.
Frustrated people do stupid things. It’s the truth. I saw something yesterday where a woman was killed in a road rage attack. Seriously. Somebody got frustrated at her bad driving and killed her? Yikes!
But that’s a pretty extreme example. What’s a lot more likely to happen is that you quit your job because you’ve had a bad day… or a string of them. And maybe quitting your job is what you need to do. Maybe it’s the best choice. Maybe it’s time. Or maybe you’re just in a tight spot at the moment and you just need to give yourself space to calm down before you make a rash decision.
Today’s verses are Proverbs 14:16-17.
The wise are cautious and avoid danger;
fools plunge ahead with reckless confidence.
Short-tempered people do foolish things,
and schemers are hated.
Frustration affects your perspective. When you get frustrated about something—regardless of what it is—it changes the way you see your situation, the people around you, and yourself. And not in a positive way.
Something about being frustrated turns me from a generally pleasant person into a grouch. A seriously serious grouch. And, let me tell you, it’s dangerous to be around someone who specializes in words when they’re in a bad mood. I know exactly what to say to cut to the quick, and when I’m in a bad mood, all I really seem to want is for other people to be in a bad mood too. Probably so that I don’t feel like so much of a failure.
That doesn’t excuse it, but it might explain it.
If your perspective is off, your behavior will be too. Nothing poisons your perspective like frustration. And kind of like what I was talking about in yesterday’s post, our enemy is looking for anything he can use to upset us or to get us emotionally twisted.
So what do you do? How do you handle frustration when you’re about ready to flip your lid? How do you stay calm when all you want to do is scream and cry?
I can’t tell you I have the answer, but I know what works for me.
But what I’ve learned about myself is that when I start feeling that way, I need to step back. I need to just take a deep breath and try to convince my shoulders to stop climbing up my neck. I need to get away from my desk and my computer and my ever-regenerating collection of emails and take a walk. Someplace I can take deep breaths. Someplace I can feel the wind blowing. Someplace where I can regain my perspective.
I have so much good in my life. I have so many blessings, so many friends, so many gifts. I have been given so much, and I haven’t done anything to deserve it. And instead of focusing on why I’m upset, I start focusing on the things that are going right.
I’ve got a job. I’ve got a family. I’ve got money to hike to Quiznos and buy a salad for lunch. Fall weather is back, and if I want a pumpkin latte, I can buy one. Give yourself ten minutes to think about the good things in your life, and I guarantee you won’t be as frustrated when you’re done.
Granted, you’ve got to face the same frustrations over again when you come back, but if you take the time to breathe first, you might see them differently. You might not, but trust me, it’s worth trying to calm down first before you do something rash.
So many times we do things in anger or frustration without really thinking about the consequences, and we shouldn’t. We should always consider the consequences before we act—not after. Don’t let your frustration become the reason why you do something foolish. Give yourself the time to calm down and try to see things in a different light before you do something you can’t take back.
In the heat of the moment, all you want to do is get away. All you want to do is make everybody else as angry as they’ve made you. But if you can hold on and maintain your calm long enough to get your head back on straight, you might prevent yourself from doing something you’d regret for the rest of your life.