I am not exactly a patient person. I get it from my mother, who was always in a hurry for everything and usually managed to get things done faster than anyone else on earth. I swear she could make water boil faster than the laws of physics allow, just by glaring at the kettle.
My father, on the other hand, was incredibly patient. He could spend hours untangling a skein of yarn after my mother had snarled it up. When we were renovating our first B & B, he took over the task of removing all the silicone sealer that a previous owner had put all around the living room windows so we could actually open them and get a breeze. Slowly, carefully and oh, so patiently, he would peel up the strips of silicon without damaging the woodwork or putting his fist through the glass. My mother, watching him, would roll her eyes and sigh before throwing her hands in the air and stomping out of the room. Patience was so foreign to her nature that she didn’t even like to see it demonstrated.
If we were allowed to pick our genes, I’d have reshuffled the deck a little.
Earlier this week, I tried to do some tech-related work to enable me to sell a few things on this blog. Don’t worry, it will be so low-key you likely won’t even know it’s happening (note to self – get a little more comfortable with self-promotion). I have been procrastinating on this for, literally, years. Because every time I tried to move forward on it, I would hit a barrier and get frustrated. Because without patience, frustration becomes a huge scary thing.
This time, after I rolled up my sleeves and gave myself a pep-talk, I set to work. And hit the same barrier that had made me quit every other time. But I’ve been doing a bit of inner work lately. Normally, my response to frustration is either to distract myself with something soothing, like a cup of tea and a good book or to vent it. I have yelled at my computer screen more times than I care to remember.
This time, though, I let myself actually feel the frustration, this big, scary feeling that I have spent a lifetime avoiding. And I noticed something that surprised me: there is a lot of power in frustration!
I’ve always viewed it in terms of the situation that is frustrating me, seeing myself as stuck, helpless. A powerless victim of malign forces. But, really, frustration is a build up of energy, of strength, of power that, properly channeled, can do a lot of good. I think of it as being like water that builds up behind a dam. Put a turbine in there and you can light up a town.
As a Reiki practitioner, I would have conversations with people living with health issues – a broken bone, pneumonia, recovery from cancer treatment. And they would share with me their feelings of frustration that they were so tired, unable to take up the reins of their lives as quickly as they wanted to. And I was able to reassure them that the bone was healing, their bodies recovering and that was taking all the spare energy they had. It might not feel like anything is happening, you can’t always see the healing, but below the surface, it’s happening. And you have to trust the process. Because you can’t heal a bone by force. You have to step back and trust that the bone knows how to heal and is, in fact, healing. I remind myself of those conversations a lot these days.
The same forces are at work as we try to follow our dreams. We take a step and our perceptions, our energy, our souls might need a bit of time to reorder themselves to fit this new direction. Meanwhile the power builds up and we call it frustration and label it a negative, something to be avoided.
But if you really allow yourself to feel the frustration, how it feels in your body, how it changes your heart rate and your breath, what it does to your muscles and perceptions, you might notice that it feels a lot like excitement. It is saying ‘Yes! We are doing this!’ It’s a sign that, though you cannot see it yet, the healing is happening and you are moving forward on your dreams. It’s just happening down deep, below the level of your perception.
And, just as we can’t force our bones to heal, we can’t force the reordering needed to move forward on our dreams. We take our steps, feel the frustration and trust that our dreams know what they’re doing.
Once I realized that, I was able to think more clearly and, step by step, work through the previously insurmountable complications. It only took three days.
Please let me know, how do you feel about frustration? Is it a friend or foe to you?
For me, frustration is a sign of an imminent breakthrough. Still frustrating because I’m not there yet. But at least now I can see and recognize it for what it is. Hugs from CR.
I don’t think we’ll ever like feeling frustrated, but knowing what it signals really helps, doesn’t it?
Hugs back to you, Tim.
I’ve never actually seen frustration as anything good. The best I can muster is that frustration shows you exactly what you need to learn, or where you need to grow. I was very frustrated this Fall while working on an online project. I have good computer skills, but not nearly the same as the 20-something’s in the Math class I was taking. I wanted to use cool graphics and diagrams to show my work, but I couldn’t get it going. For about 4 hours I was working and trying and reading things online to help me, to no avail. I felt defeated.
When I came home, my daughter scolded me for berating myself and acting like I need to do what the 20-something’s are doing. My son said, “Chill Mama. You can do it the way you always do it with a pencil and paper, then take a picture and post that!” Ta-Da! Thank God for people who love us through our frustration and OUT OF our frustration!