A big storm ravaged my neighborhood a few days back, and the streets around me are riddled with downed trees. Driving to the doctor this AM, I felt like I was in a fabricated maze, with me the rat trying to find it’s way to the cheese. And not having any luck finding a way out.
As the frustration welled within me, I was able to step back and ask myself, “Who said that because I’m not getting my way, I need to be frustrated and annoyed?” I don’t think I ever have asked that question to myself before questioning this fundamental assumption.
Rather, I have always just assumed that when I don’t get what I want, frustration is the appropriate outcome. However, as I have worked on more consistent happiness, I realized that, in fact, I was making a choice, and this choice was dragging me down to an emotional state that I don’t want to dwell in.
Driving along, I was able to break the mental grip that this assumption had on me. Of course, it didn’t immediately change my perspective, but with a little time, the frustration dissipated a little, and I am hopeful that next time I am not getting my way, I’ll be quicker to remember that I can just approach this with a more neutral or detached response, or perhaps just laugh at how finicky life is, and appreciate what I do have.
I do think that I learned something new about how I think, though. That my default belief is that if I am doing something, then I am equally attached to everything that I take on, and they are all equally important. And as we know, that is certainly not true. Some things do seem more important that others, and I need to differentiate those few important things, and certainly not get emotionally attached to the things that are not important.
Further, if I am honest, few things in my life are now really that important (and likely never were). Even those things that I think are key to my happiness, have equally interesting outcomes should I choose a different path – or if the path I am on is cut off due to my lack of control.
The basic takeaway I want to bring along is that I hope that next time things don’t go my way, I have the clarity of mind, to recognize that it is happening and to ask myself if I want to get frustrated or allow it to be. Put another way, I should ask myself which is less painful, the frustration that I will feel if I remain attached to the outcome or the actual lack of the outcome itself? And then I will remind myself that frustration also doesn’t need to be the response, rather, it can just be a focus on all those amazing things that I do have in my life right then and there as this minor inconvenience sits there: look at things in the macro and not the micro.
Most importantly, though, I will question the assumption that I need to feel frustrated at my lack of control, in the first place. Someone taught me that once upon a time, and I feel like it no longer serves me.