Dealing with Anger and Frustration

I don't get angry very often.  I don't get frustrated.  I typically am able to process through whatever is happening at the moment, analyze various perspectives, and work through the fact that whatever ails me is temporary and there is often a better way to handle the situation.

I'm currently coming down off of a rush of adrenaline, determination, frustration and a touch of anger.  I'm sleepy, but I want to get these thoughts out.

If someone doesn't understand instructions, that's ok.  If someone misreads their assignment, it's forgivable.  If said person is corrected and told specifically what they did wrong and how to correct it and - instead of doing the right thing - they makes the exact same mistake again... that leads to frustration.  Instead of throwing my hands in the air and submitting to defeat in the name of "it's not fair that I have to do her work," I plowed through and completed the project as best as I could.  That's the lesson I'll remember from this course.

So how do I deal with potentially frustrating situations?  A simple three step process of decision and elimination.

When presented with a problem I go through this process, internally:

(1) Do I have any influence over this situation?

If the situation is completely out of my control, then what can I do?  Any anger or aggression simply will serve to tense up my muscles and cause negative thoughts to flow into mind.  I have too many thoughts and projects in my head as it is; I have no need to hold on to anger or bitterness.

If the situation is out of my control but effects those around me, I file away the memory.  My first response should not be to the situation, but to the person whose life intersects with mine.  If they need me to be angry, then I'll share their anger (so that they don't have to hold on to so much of it).  If they need me to remind them of grace, I gently nudge that direction. I've found that people prefer to share in anger than be reminded of grace.

If I do have influence over the situation, then I ask:

(2) How much energy will I need to exert to modify the situation?

Everything we do requires energy, and I only have so much of it.  I can choose to use my energy to love or to hate, to be productive or put it into reserve and rest.  Before I can make any of those decisions on a situation, I have to discern how much energy it will take to influence the situation.

If the energy it would take isn't worth my time to change, then it isn't worthy my time to be angry about.  Seriously; if I don't care enough to change it, why should I care enough to be angry?

If I do decide it's worth changing the situation:

(3) Follow through and work towards change.

This is the big one, where energy is spent and you're committed to holding on to the memory of frustration to propel you through the turbulence of the situation.  The key is that deciding you're going to change something isn't the whole story.  You have to actually exert the energy until one of two things happen: (a) the situation changes, or (b) you decide that exerting the energy is no longer worth it, and re-evaluate step 2.

If after this I'm still angry and frustrated, then I need to do some internal monologuing.  I have to ask: why am I angry?  Is this a good anger (yes, there is good anger) and good pain (yes, there is good pain)?

Or am I harboring selfish frustration and expecting some kind of response from other people to make up for my hurt?  If that's the case then I'd rather just be honest with people and say "I need love" rather than push away what I need with visible anger and frustration.

If I'm still holding to this anger... if I've decided that it's a good element to hold on to... then I do so in prayer.  I keep watch over it by asking God to hold it in check and remind me of when it's time to let it go.  I try to share my anger with others because some might share the burden while others might remind me of grace.

And then there's that one left over element of anger and frustration, where I want to turn it into a teaching moment for the offender.  There's the part of me that wants to send her work tot he professor and let him know how "above and beyond" I went for my group.  The reason isn't vengeance, but because I truly think that if someone got into a graduate program without knowing how to write a research paper... someone needs to wake them up a bit.

But that's not my job, it's the professor's.  So instead I get to turn this into a teaching moment for myself and spell out a few of my thoughts.  Hello, thoughts.