Have you ever had one of those days where you were ready to go to war with anyone and anything? I found myself wrestling a mop today because it would not stand properly in my utility closet. I got really verbal too, thinking that if I called it enough names, loudly enough, it would behave. Sound familiar?
Boy, did that open a dialogue with my inner self. Was I angry or frustrated? Maybe it was a combination of both, but it certainly started me on yet another journey of self-evaluation. Who knew when you start looking for reasons why you fly off the handle the internet floods you with enough justification to just pick the reason of your choice? “Eeny, meeny, miny, moe…”
So, what is the difference between anger and frustration? That is a simple question, right? All my resources described frustration as a response characterized by dissatisfaction, with anger a natural response toward feeling offended or wronged. Then I looked up disappointment and found it included the word frustrate. It is a tangled web we weave when we try to dissect the motivations for our actions. Life can just be a complicated mess, can’t it?
I am so lucky in so many ways. While disappointment is definitely my middle name, anger is very seldom an emotion that controls my actions. I have often said that life is just too short to sweat the small stuff – and everything is small stuff. I have never thrown a plate, put my fist through a wall, screamed bloody murder, or destroyed anything under cloak of anger. I may have fantasized about it but could never bring myself to do it.
Frustration can be just as destructive to some of us though. It is a trigger that manifests fear and anger. It controls negative thoughts, hurtful emotions, and sometimes physical symptoms. Frustration is not necessarily bad and can even act as a motivator to change. But unchecked it still results in irritability, stress, resentment, depression, or the impulse to just give up.
As I have written before, fear is my detriment. Instead of getting angry, I just fear that I am not doing enough, being enough, contributing enough, accomplishing enough – just not doing anything enough. The experts say frequently angry people may suffer from insomnia, digestive disorders, and headaches and prefer loneliness, silence, and show antisocial behavior. I am not a basket case with all those symptoms, but I believe all emotions still roll up into a pretty little package. Mine has a bow the size of Texas.
The leading cause of anger is our environment. Stress, financial issues, abuse, poor social or family situations, and overwhelming requirements on time and energy all contribute. Situations that are unpleasant, that feel unfair, that block our goals and could have been avoided leave us feeling powerless. The bodily effects of anger should, at the very least, tell us that something is wrong.
Common sense tells me if you accept that anger seldom fixes anything it should be easy to control. Sure, and resisting homemade cookies that are sitting right in front of you is easy too. Nothing in life is that simple. Anger and frustration are about as tangible as trust. Emotions that simmer inside will eventually come to a boil unless you control the heat. Solutions are innate within us. You just have to dig deep to find acceptance and resolve.
Good heavens, this reads like a psychological consultant lecture. It really is, however, the thoughts that ramble around in my head and heart every day. I am not powerless. No one is. We choose our actions and our responses but too often place blame elsewhere. Hey, if I want to eat all two dozen homemade cookies lurking on the plate irresponsibly placed in front of me, I will. It is not my fault. Bad plate. Shame on you plate. But since forgiveness is key, I forgive you plate. Ah, but that is fodder for yet another rant.
Share your thoughts! Click the word Comments below and tell me what you think!