The last few weeks have been fraught with frustration. Actually, this year has been fueled by one frustration after another. Delays, miscommunications, waiting, too much to juggle at once, and nonexistent customer service top my frustration list. How about you? What are your greatest sources of frustration?
In thinking through some of the challenges of my most recent frustration levels, I gained perspective.
Early (as in before coffee early) on the morning of the income tax deadline, I got a phone call from our CPA requesting an urgent in-person meeting. This is not the kind of phone call anyone wants to receive on the income tax deadline day. I threw myself together and dashed across town. Thankfully, the outcome of the meeting was not as dire as my mind conjured on the drive to her office. However, I was handed a big to-do list with detailed instructions and the to-dos had to be completed that day. (As a side note, let me just say government forms are designed to confuse.)
Even though I had detailed instructions from our CPA, some verbiage on the forms contradicted her instructions. I went with the tiny print on the forms. After mailing what had to be mailed, I began trying to log into an online corporate account to pay what had to be paid via website. Multiple tries proved fruitless.
Finally, I called, waited for over 30 minutes for a real person, was re-routed to several departments, and put on hold numerous times. And then, you guessed it, my call was dropped. Was it a hang up? It felt like it. I called back and started the process all over again.
Two hours later, I got a person with sense who told me the account had been purged in November of last year, without notification. Cue an exponential increase in frustration. Now that I knew the reasons I couldn’t access our account, it was time to figure out a work-around.
In my most patient voice, I asked my other options for making a payment. Was a phone payment possible? No, because we didn’t have an account (circle back to purged without notification above). Could I set up another account and use it that day? No, because you have to wait 5-7 business days to receive a PIN in the mail. Other options? Yes, you can make a wire transfer. With a little help from the phone person, and much digging around on the website, I found the two pages of instructions for making a wire transfer. By this time, the bank was closed for the day. Cue additional frustration coupled with anxiety.
The next day, I called the bank to see if the lobby was open. It took three phone calls to reach a human. The lobby was not open without an appointment, which I was able to obtain, but only 45 minutes before the cutoff time for wire transfers that day.
When I arrived, I learned I had to have something I didn’t have, but there was a work-around. However, the clock was ticking, and valuable time was slipping away. Then began the process of inputting information for the wire transfer. The person helping me kept switching the two pieces of information I brought with me and I had to continually remind her which was which. She called two people over to her desk to answer questions, but afterwards, it was obvious she was still struggling.
Finally, she reached a point when she asked for a physical address. Since the information I brought from the website did not list a physical address (I’ve never known a website to have a physical address) she looked at me and said, “I can’t complete the transaction because YOU didn’t provide me with all the information I need.”
Suddenly, her lack of ability became my fault. I showed her a link labeled “instructions for banks,” but she wasn’t interested in putting forth additional effort. That’s when my frustration level boiled over into anger. In my mind, I saw my head looking like a cartoon teapot whistling on the stove.
With great effort, I managed to remain civil as I canceled the transaction and sprinted to the car. I wrote checks and a letter and made it to the post office before closing time, but a day late, nonetheless. I’m still waiting to see if my paper checks will be accepted since that was not an option given for this account.
So, is all this just a belly-aching whine. Well, sort of, but the upshot is, in this year of uncertainty, frustration is a given. How we handle frustration is what makes the difference. We can allow frustration to color our perception and always assume the worst, or we can expect speed bumps, but decide ahead of time how to approach them. If you hit frustrations at full speed, you receive a teeth-rattling jolt, but if you slow down, ease over them, and then regain forward motion, the jolt is much less noticeable.
To minimize frustration, consider the following:
Take time to calm down before speaking or acting. This is extremely challenging, because when anger surfaces, it’s usually explosive.
Figure out what about the situation is causing you the most anxiety and frustration. I’m a rule-follower, so not receiving information from several different sources in time to meet the deadline was my greatest source of frustration.
Acknowledge lack of control. At the root of frustration in most situations is our inability to control some element. Accept that some things are beyond your control and do the best you can given what you are facing.
Factor in exhaustion. Physical and emotional exhaustion heighten frustration levels. While you can’t always control circumstances, understanding the impact of exhaustion lends perspective to what you are feeling.
Decide your next course of action and implement it. Frustration often renders us immobile. In formulating a plan and putting it in motion, you minimize inaction.
By gaining information, determining options, combating anger, and looking ahead, you have a better chance of successfully jumping frustration hurdles. Avoid stockpiling your frustrations. Learn from your reactions and work toward controlling anger. Frustrations will always be a part of life so figure out what helps you cope and keep moving forward.
“If you are sensible, you will control your temper. When someone wrongs you, it is a great virtue to ignore it.” Proverbs 19:11 GNT
Frustrations will always be a part of life so figure out what helps you cope and keep moving forward.
Candy Arrington is a writer, blogger, speaker, and freelance editor. She often writes on tough topics with a focus on moving beyond difficult life circumstances. Candy has written hundreds of articles, stories, and devotionals published by numerous outlets including: Inspiration.org, Arisedaily.com, CBN.com, Healthgrades.com, Care.com, Focus on the Family, NextAvenue.org, CountryLiving.com, and Writer’s Digest. Candy’s books include When Your Aging Parent Needs Care (Harvest House) and AFTERSHOCK: Help, Hope, and Healing in the Wake of Suicide (B&H Publishing Group).
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