Mental Notes with Hilary Valdez: Dealing with frustration

Mental Notes with Hilary Valdez: Dealing with frustration

by Hilary Valdez
Stripes Okinawa

The jungle drums say: "Frustration begets anger and anger begets aggression." Frustration and anger are fundamental emotions that everyone experiences. Frustration involves a lot of little tensions accumulated over time. Welcome to the human condition. All humans suffer from frustration. Frustration is not necessarily bad, it’s a signal that a change needs to happen and learning to bounce back from it, an important skill to develop. 

Frustration is the reaction to the obstacle or hardship that prevents a person from reaching a goal. Don’t get stuck in anger, or disappointment and being constantly annoyed. Identify the issue then develop your plan to overcome your frustration. Don’t sit around crying, “Poor me, poor me, pour me a drink.” Bounce back!

Don’t start your day with Zoloft and Jack Daniels. That is a deeper form of insanity. All of us have an emotional duffle bag of pent up emotions. The only thing missing is planning, action and desire. Every day we all go through a social tug of war with the world. Adjust your pace. You’re not competing with anyone; you’re competing with yourself.

People experience conflict-produced frustration if they are not on good terms with the people they deal with regularly. It can be caused by hostile feelings towards others. Conflicting frustrations usually occurs between friends, colleagues, or among supervisors. Ask yourself. What am I doing to cause this situation? What am I telling myself? What are the facts? What’s am I thinking about?  If you feel threatened, you’ll react that way. The goal is to move on. You have a right to your feelings, but sometimes it’s better to keep them to yourself, otherwise it could hurt someone. 

There are internal sources of frustration, as well as external sources. Frustrations are divided into environmental, personal, conflict-produced and motivational conflict. Environmental frustration is the frustration that arises from an individual's surroundings, such as the workplace, family, or bad weather conditions. Personal frustration is caused when a person tries to achieve an unworkable goal. When an individual has frustration due to personal limitations, it’s called personal frustration. Motivational conflict occurs when the conditions you encounter outside yourself are the sources of frustration. These include the people, places and things that serve as barriers to getting things you want done or when an individual has opposing ideas. Resolving frustration contains natural and temporary periods of confusion. 

People react to frustration in a number of ways: They get angry, give up or quit, lose their self-esteem, feel a loss of self-confidence, and experience stress, feel sad, depressed or anxious. Some people turn to substance abuse, or engage in other negative, self-destructive or addictive behaviors. Conduct a reality check. What is the worst part of the frustration for you? What is the worst thing that can happen? What are your options? No one is in control of your happiness but you. You have the power to change anything about yourself. Trust your hopes, not your fears.

Simple relaxation ideas are deep breathing. Relaxing imagery can help calm down feelings of frustration and anger. Breathe deeply, from your diaphragm. While breathing, slowly repeat a calm word such as "relax," "calm down" or "take it easy." I do this. Also, yoga, simple stretching, or going for a walk can relax your muscles and make you feel calmer. Strenuous and vigorous exercise can also help you to work off frustration and angry feelings. I do this too. Talk with someone you trust. Talking can help you become clear about what you are feeling. Write about your feelings. Recognizing things that you cannot change. Make changes to help reduce your anger and frustration. Be open to opposite thinking. Maintain a positive attitude. Find the balance between defensiveness and openness. Are you taking things too personally? It takes a high degree of patience and rational control over your feelings to stabilize frustration.

Instant Insight: It’s difficult to negotiate an attitude.


Hilary Valdez is a retiree living in Japan. He is an experienced Mental Health professional and Resiliency Trainer. Valdez is a former Marine and has worked with the military most of his career and most recently worked at Camp Zama as a Master Resiliency Trainer. Valdez now has a private practice and publishes books on social and psychological issues. His books are available on Amazon and for Kindle. Learn more about Valdez and contact him at or at

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