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Mondays With Mark : What Will You Choose?


Posted on 4/25/2016 by Rosalea Peters, WEO Media Staff
If you so choose, every mistake can lead to greater understanding and effectiveness. If you so choose, every frustration can help you to be more patient and more persistent."
Ralph Marston

Do you ever feel frustrated? I'm sure you have. Frustration is a natural response when our efforts don't seem to be generating the results we expect. Frustration can also be the result of having our goals blocked by others or external situations.

Our fatigue is often caused not by work, but by worry, frustration and resentment.
Dale Carnegie

If you're driving into downtown for a 9am meeting you may experience frustration from both the other slow drivers and the fact that jamming your foot down on the accelerator is not actually getting you there any faster. Can you relate?

The quotes above highlight both the hazard of, and the elixir for, frustration. Yet it just isn't that easy is it?

As the universe often does, it pummeled me over the head in the last 24 hours trying to get my attention on this topic. The two items below (perhaps coincidental, but maybe not) pointed me toward thinking more about frustration itself.

I read a news story this morning about a man named Ben who is a college student at Tulane University. He cannot speak, or write, and is barely able to type eve with the assistance of another person. He has autism and he is a very frustrated person. His mind is working so hard to communicate but his body and brain are not cooperating. Yet, despite his frustration and difficulty, he has been writing essays and stories about what it is like to be a person trapped in an autistic body. He has even won awards for his writing but you might be able to imagine how angry, hopeless, and frustrated he feels.

The second item was an event that happened just yesterday. A friend of mine took a martial arts test of sorts. She has been training for twenty plus years in aikido and had long since achieved her black belt and was now taking a more advanced test that required her to maintain a deeper state of calm and mental focus. Her extra challenge; She was born with both mental and physical disabilities that have made it exceedingly difficult to many kinds of things in her daily life, much less training in a martial art. In the pre-testing stress she talked with me about the deep frustration she felt. She had spent so many years of effort to learn to control her mind and master her body only to feel unable to get the results she wished for. Frustration can lead to anger. It can lead to hopelessness. It can lead to depression and to a loss of confidence. She was feeling all of these things and the pressure of the impending test amplified these negative effects.

Yet she succeeded. She faced the test and she passed the test. Of the thousands of people that have trained in the martial art over the decades that did not have any type of disability, she was still there, still training and they were not. Despite the stress and frustration she faced year after year, she walked up and confronted it once more and overcame it once more. Not just like a non-disabled person, but in a way that the vast majority of all people will never attain. I thought to myself, "being here today is a greater success than passing the martial arts test itself."

So let us honor all of those that face great frustration each day (whatever the source), and dedicate ourselves to let frustration be a signal to continue on, not a sign to give up.

I would also like to offer this: cultivating a feeling of compassion for a person in the midst of frustration, including yourself, is a powerful way to turn those negative feelings into energy that can be used to move forward.

Have a great week!

-Mark
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