How to Manage Frustration without Taking it Out on Others

How many times have you found yourself grumpy? It’s funny how the word “grumpy” has such a juvenile connotation - only kids are allowed to be grumpy without judgement. There’s so much grace given to a child who simply “wakes up on the wrong side of the bed”; and yet, we as adults aren’t allowed to simply be grumpy. We must manage our frustration, force ourselves to be positive, and live within the socially acceptable boundaries of emotion (which are very narrow, by the way). 

However, the reality is….adults get grumpy too! 

There are so many things in adult life that cause frustration - relationships, circumstances, unexpected events, and sometimes we’re just in a bad mood for no explainable reason. 

There is nothing innately wrong with being grumpy - actually, it can often lead to a deeper understanding of yourself - but there is a healthy and unhealthy way to deal with frustration. We can either use it to help us understand ourselves and others better or we can take it out on others - I bet you can guess which way is the healthiest option. 

Here are 4 simple steps that you can take whenever you find yourself frustrated to help you move through it and get to the other side without having any casualties along the way. 

  1. Identify the Real Enemy - I’ll let you in on a little secret...the little things aren’t usually the issue. While your partner leaving the dishes in the sink for the 800th time may be annoying, it probably isn’t the real reason you want to explode. Take a moment to ask yourself “what in my life is really bothering me and what is the worst thing about that?”

  2. Be Prepared to Feel Overwhelmed - Once you sit with your feelings and identify what the real root is, you may find yourself feeling even worse. We oftentimes displace our anger, focusing on something small we can control (ie. dirty dishes) because if we acknowledged the real issue (ie. sorrow from a loss in the family) it feels like we may drown. 

  3. Don’t Force Yourself to Get Over It - It may be possible to force yourself to get over the dirty dishes being left in the sink, but it’s completely unreasonable to expect yourself to “just get over” the deep root of your frustration. Acknowledge that this feeling may linger for a while, it may even bubble under the surface for a long time, but that it will not take over your life and you will make it through to the other side. 

  4. Determine Your Next Steps - Creating an action plan gives you the ability to get back into the control seat and can actually make you feel a lot better immediately! Determine what your next steps are and write them down. A next step may be setting up a call with a therapist, committing to working out twice a week, or sitting down with a friend to share how you’re feeling. 

How wonderful would it be if we all decided to normalize “adult grumpiness” and allow ourselves and others to feel grumpy and move through it to a positive outcome on the other side?

If you find yourself simply stuck in the middle of the frustration with no energy to move through it, please reach out or call my office at (310) 614-0323 so we can identify the real root and work through it together.